Last week, I attended the WE (Women Entrepreneurs) NYC Community Forum in Brooklyn. The WE NYC initiative, launched in March 2015 by the City of New York, aims to “learn more about the unique opportunities and challenges faced by woman-owned businesses in New York City and design a suite of innovative programs and strategies in the coming months to help women start, operate, and grow a business in New York City.”
The forum was held at Etsy’s headquarters in DUMBO – an inviting and creative space perfect for connecting with other women business owners, sharing our experiences, obstacles and solutions, and brainstorming how we can better collaborate with each other and with business service organizations to help provide assistance to other women facing similar challenges. One of the themes that kept surfacing was the challenge for women entrepreneurs to maintain some semblance of work-life balance.
One woman shared that she felt her strength was also her main weakness…she was an experienced and accomplished multi-tasker, always keeping a lot of different things going at once, yet she felt frazzled, that she often had trouble focusing and being able to see a given task to completion. I think this is a feeling that most of us can relate to! She also noted that, although a generalization, women tend to be more adept at multi-tasking (a blessing and a curse), where men seem to be less comfortable with too many different things going on, but thus able to maintain a strong focus on getting one thing done at a time.
She was describing the juggling act perfectly. Juggling is exactly the challenge of being able to focus while keeping several objects going. I talk to groups a lot about the myth of work-life balance and some of the keys that can help us live a more balanced and fulfilling life by learning to better master the juggling act. One of the most important things to understand is that all of the “balls” we are trying to keep in the air are connected to each other. If we can strengthen the connections between the aspects of our life (the balls), we can create a more stable and sustainable pattern. One of the best ways to strengthen those connections is through effective communication and collaboration.
Part of me (the control freak!) would like to do everything myself to run by business, but I’ve learned that this is impossible if I want the business to grow and to maintain some level of sanity! It’s an ongoing process and a challenge I still feel every day. Here’s an example: I have an art degree, a good eye for design, I like playing around in iMovie, so a couple years ago, I was editing all of my own promotional videos. I was decent at it, but I began to realize that spending hours editing video was not the best use of my time. I was becoming overwhelmed with too many things to do and realized that this could be work for someone with a passion and expertise in this field…someone who would generate new, creative ideas that wouldn’t have occurred to me. Same for website design and building. A coach helped me to see this. I hired a video editor and web designer/developer and was able to focus more time on things like networking, physical practice and content generation – things that would be pretty difficult for others to do for me! Now I’m working on delegating even more.
Key aspects of collaboration: ask for help and learn to delegate (find people you can trust), offer help in return (find creative ways to barter), and employ the guidance of a mentor or coach with experience in your business. When tasks are delegated to various team members, it is easier to focus on your priorities. Just like juggling with a partner can enable you to accomplish more quickly!
I’m looking forward to more collaborative events with WE NYC to share what I’ve learned along the way and tap into the collaborative knowledge of so many amazing women business owners in NYC. Here’s just a few of the amazing things women entrepreneurs are!…
Leave a comment below and share a trick or tip that works for you in combatting the challenge of multi-tasking vs. maintaining focus.