Recently I talked about my “Mobile Office“: the bag of gear, and I wanted to touch on that idea gain in a slightly different light.
When it comes to running a business while taking care of young children, one of the things that you need the most is flexibility. I have found that it is difficult (although not impossible) to predict when the opportunity to work may arise. Sometimes your kids simply will not be able to respect your work hours. Sometimes you will have a surprisingly quiet afternoon where they would rather play by themselves. And sometimes you will need to be able to take your child somewhere and still get at least some work done.
Having a bag that you can just pick up with everything that you need to go out and still get some work done is the first step to achieving that flexibility.
The other thing that you need to do is mak sure that your work process is streamlined to make that small kit a powerful as you possibly can make it.
The ultimate goal should be for anyone who works with people or information to be able to do 80% of their work from their moble phone.
And, if you work with small physical projects, like crafts or small equipment building or repair, the goal will be to be orgaized enough to be able to pick up a set of tools and multiple boxes contianing one discrete project each that you can take with you if you need to get up and go, or need to settle down to work quickly. A sample product or two probably would not be a bad thing to have available at all times, either.
Tackle boxes, craft kits, tactical backpacks, and clear plastic containers, combined with a label maker and shelving are one of the best tools that you could ask for.
Prat of this is going to be about having as much as you can of your business online. If you don’t deal with confidential data, using readily-available cloud solutions like Drop Box or Google Drive can let you put important files all in one place. If you deal with sensitive data, having that data stored online in a private server: either in webspace that you can encrypt with something like CloudFlare and protect to your level of need, or in a device that you wn that is heavily secured and can be physically connected and disconnected from the Internet will do.
It also can help to use a cloud note-taking program that allows you to tag and organize information as you need it. Programs like Microsoft OneNote, Google Keep, or Evernote can let you very quickly put down work or information in one place, and then pick it up in another. Using tools like tagging, notebooks, and cross-linking of information in those programs can be incredibly useful for streamlining your workflow as well.
In my Evernote system, I keep templates for and encrypted copies of client contracts, copies of all my servce brochures and orientation material, templates of invoices. When I issue an invoice, I can tag it as a pending invoice, and by client, and when they pay me, I can simply change the tag – and this gives me instant data on any account or all accoutns on my system that is infinitely searchable.
Building your business website on Content Management tools like WordPress or Joomla can let you control your website almost entirely from your browser, or even by email and instant message with the right plugins… so long as you make sure those are secured against hackers on the back end. With the right knowhow, you can automate a lot of the work of udating, promoting, sharing, and linking your website.
Placing all of your important inter-offce communications with other people working with you in one place, such as Evernote or Slack, or in a private online forum.
About the only thing I can’t do on my phone is look at physical copies of my client contracts, or create the cstom graphics that sometimes go on documents that I create.
Making sure you have a good, (preferably cross-platform) setup on the software and information-keeping end of your business can allow you to handle emergencies, or simply to sit down on the couch in your living room and do your accounting while your toddler plays with his or her toys without needing to slip away to your home office.