Five Things I Learned This Week – List Writing is my Super Skill
Having a target audience massively helps
When I set up This Demanding Life back in 2015 it was as a blog site. I wanted to cover all areas of blogging, leaving no stone unturned. At the time I was the business manager of a school and relatively well known in the industry. This meant that I couldn’t really write as ‘me’, just the straight down the line, non-offensive person I was expected to be. Needless to say, the blog never really took off. Particularly because I lost interest in trying to be all things to all people with a very neutral tone.
In 2016 I turned This Demanding Life into a start-up consultancy. I had been working with parent start ups for 3 years from my previous company and I felt the brand was perfect. Parenting, work, new business, it’s all demanding! There was a difference this time though – I could write purely as me and I was no longer trying to be all things to all people, I knew my audience were very similar to me. Parents who never have enough hours in the day, who go to reach for their wallet during the school charity collection only to find a pair of balled up (childrens) socks and half a dog treat in their pocket. I love working with parents who are taking the leap into working for themselves, helping them navigate the complexity of the start-up world. These days I write a lot more blogs. I know who my audience are and I love writing for them.
If your child knows you use an app to communicate with the school they WILL use it to report themselves as absent.
You’d be forgiven for thinking it was a teenager who did this……. it was my four year old. The boys’ school uses the Studybugs App for reporting absence. It’s brilliant; quick, easy and has an auto-fill option for what type of illness your child is suffering. Obviously when I used it a couple of weeks ago I thought the little one was too delirious with illness to notice what I was doing (and if not delirious with illness, he’d be at school) I certainly did not explain or even show it to him. You can imagine my surprise when he decided he didn’t want to go to school yesterday morning, grabbed my phone, popped in the passcode and reported himself as absent. The scene that followed – explaining that he still had to go and dragging the wailing child to Reception was not pretty. Neither was having to explain to the school office that he’d outfoxed me and he was fit, healthy and at school. Must make a mental note to change my passcode to something that isn’t one of the kids birthdays.
Delegating is the way forward
You know this, I know this, we all know that if we delegate well, we’ll get double the work done in half the time. So why don’t we do it? This year I came up with a new business strategy that meant I needed to delegate a lot more of the technical work to my amazing technical wizard, Stu. Armed with this brilliant master plan, January arrived and did I do it? Yes….. for the first time, on the 30th. I think part of the issue I have with delegating is for a long, long time I was the person who was delegated to and I find it hard to ask people for help. But, on the 30th January I finally gave in. I WhatsApp’d Stu at 6am with a list of technical work and by 8:30am it was all done. It left me with much more time to get on with the (non technical) work that I love doing and made Stu happy because he loves coding. It’s win-win.
I would just like to use this paragraph to point out that I don’t *make* Stu work at 6am, I just happened to WhatsApp him at that time as due to a combination of my partner on early shift and 3 children to get to school in 2 different towns, one being a traffc-y 45 mins away, we all happened to be up at 6am. Luckily, so was Stu! Just to prove my point, here is a screenshot of our WhatsApp chat.
List writing will always be my super-skill
I have a fundamental need to be organised. I can put this down to 2 things:
Having a ‘Type A’ personality
Being raised by a single mother who was organised, delegated well and taught us that we’d always feel more comfortable in situations if we were prepared for them and on time.
This is where lists come in. I was always a list writer, I love knowing where I’m at with things, how much I have left to do and what the weeks ahead look like. With the introduction of more sophisticated, intuitive technology, the opportunities for being organised increase. Currently I have a diary for every member of my family, shared with the relevant carers. An electronic notebook that syncs across all my devices, a list of reminders scheduled on my phone and a Trello account with different boards for each of my clients. This may seem busy but for me, knowing where everything is and what needs to be done, helps me feel relaxed and in control of my life and business.
Nobody’s perfect and one person’s list-heaven is anothers’ list-hell. I’m not going to pretend that the (occasionally) emailed ‘to do lists’ are my partner’s favourite thing about me but he hasn’t left because of them….. that’s definitely not on the list!
Things not matching won’t kill you
It could be because I’m a twin (Hi Glen!) or maybe it’s just a quirk, but I like things to match. More than most people do. I’d go as far to say that things not matching or having an odd number of things makes me feel really irritable. Case in point…… due to being outnumbered by our children and them deciding one night that they couldn’t live with the lighting setups in their rooms (middle class problems I know), we had to shift all the night lights in the house. This means that currently there is only one lamp next to my bed when there should be two. For a while I managed to get around this by stringing up Christmas lights in the kids’ rooms. Once it was almost February and living in fear that the kids would tell people we still have Christmas decorations up and those people would judge us, we took them down. So now we’re back to random night lights in random rooms and my room not being a symmetrically perfect idyl of furniture and lighting. Ok, it hasn’t killed me, I haven’t even been that irritable but whenever I’m home I’m vaguely aware that something’s not right. Whilst we could call this a ‘character building’ experience and prove that I can live in this (crazy, unbalanced) world, I definitely think it’s time to add ‘buy a new nightlight’ to my shopping list.