Voice Over Mamas: How To Organize
& Balance Time For Work & Family
December 18, 2013
By Heather Costa
"You will never have this day with your children again. Tomorrow, theyíll be a little older than they were today. This day is a gift, breathe and notice, smell and touch them; study their faces and little feet and pay attention. Relish the charms of the present. Enjoy today, Mama, it will be over before you know it.Ē Ė Jen HatmakerAs working mothers, we are constantly trying to find the balance between raising happy, well-rounded children and having a career that weíre passionate about, and that is worth taking the time away from our kids.
It is impossible to always have the best of both worlds 100% of the time. However, it IS possible to find that balance and to not sacrifice either.
The first step in creating this idyllic scenario is to step back and understand your personality, work style, priorities and limitations, as well as your childrenís.
NO PERFECT SOLUTION
There isnít a perfect solution that works for every mom, but there are plenty of things you can try until you find something that fits!
As you try these different styles of juggling, know that your children will love you, even if you drop a few balls from time to time.
Before giving you my "solutionĒ to this never ending dilemma, I just want to say that I do not have it all figured out. There are days when Iím at my wit's end, stressed with finding that balance and feeling guilty for not accomplishing everything or "choosing work over the kids.Ē
However, most often, surprisingly, I feel in control of my time and am genuinely happy. So this may not be perfect Ė but it feels pretty close.
HOW TO ORGANIZE
There are three programs I use to accomplish this seemingly daunting task of staying organized.
Google Calendar. I use this for our everyday schedule (color coded for different categories of activities), with events for that day up top (scheduled as "all dayĒ) and time-specific activities in their appropriate spots.
Evernote. I use this app to keep track of things with my voice over stand-up partner, Kelley Huston. We meet for 15 minutes every morning Monday-Thursday and 30 minutes on Friday, for a more extensive "parking-lot discussion.Ē
We discuss what weíve done yesterday, what weíre planning to do today, what weíre planning for tomorrow - and what, if anything, is standing in our way.
Then we figure out a way to work around it. Itís amazing how having someone to hold you accountable really adds to your productivity and your feeling of accomplishment when you reach your goals!
Stickies. I use this app for my actual schedule each day. I love this program because I have it set up as a small vertical window on the side of my screen so I can see it when I have other things open. I color code this as well, to make it easy to see.
If an activity is something that takes me out of the house, I make it bold, so it catches my eye.
Now obviously, things come up - auditions, the baby doesnít nap that day, a last minute meeting, etc. When that happens, I simply adjust the schedule and continue on. The more specific I can be in my daily schedule, the more likely I am to complete the tasks.
If itís too general, thereís a greater risk that itís not going to get done.
Once Iíve accomplished the task, I italicize so I can visually see things as theyíre being completed.
Youíd be surprised how "checkingĒ something off your to-do list mentally prepares you to move on to the next task.
CREATING A SCHEDULE
There are general VO tasks that I designate for each day. This gives me an overview of what Iíll be putting my focus on, in addition to auditions that come in, jobs that I book, etc. Ė the unknownS that we always have to happily plan for.
Monday is the day I work on research. This is when I research new companies that I want to contact for potential work.
Tuesday is the day I contact prospective clients. On this day I send out emails, phone calls or postcards to the new companies Iíve researched and I introduce myself.
Wednesday is the day I spend following up. Iíll reach out to prospective clients Iíve previously contacted (after an appropriate amount of time has passed). I may also touch base with prospective clients Iíve been in communication with, just to say hi, as well as current clients to remind them that Iím here.
Thursday is my writing day. This may be a blog article, a newsletter, a marketing campaign or a press release.
Friday is my invoicing day. On Fridays I spend time invoicing my clients, as well as following up on overdue payments. When time allows, I also use this day to update my VO budget, year-to date income and business expenses.
Weekends I like to reserve for family time and very little work. However, I will take a couple of hours and prepare for my upcoming week. This is incredibly important for my success and to keep me stress-free. This includes scheduling weekly tweets, planning my kidís activities for the week and creating an outline of the goals I need to reach by the end of that week.
EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT
Every day my schedule is different - and thatís the fun of it!
It all depends on my workload, my kidís schedules and what Iím in the mood for.
Sometimes I start my day at 5 a.m. and end shortly after the kids go down, while other days I start just before they get up and work until 11 p.m. Iím not spending all of that time working, Iím spending that time enjoying a balanced life of work, family and me time (something you mustnít forget!).
FITTING EVERYTHING IN
I find itís best to work backwards in goal setting.
Once Iíve determined what I need to accomplish, I plan the steps from the end date to present day in order to make that happen.
Voice over talent and fellow Voxy Lady Lauren McCullough taught me that itís not just about setting goals, but setting SMART goals. If your goals arenít attainable, youíre setting yourself up for failure.
During the weekdays, I try to schedule a 15-minute activity with my 2 year old, then 30 minutes of work time, then back to my 2 year old, and so on.
The blocks of uninterrupted time are before the kids wake up in the morning, during nap time and once they go to bed. If my 5 year old is home early, or not in school that day, then I try to plan everything around him.
ASK FOR HELP!
Even if you think you have these magical powers and can accomplish everything in a day without breaking a sweat (ha, yeah rightÖ), itís OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP.
You have to be okay with realizing you canít do everything, all the time, by yourself. Thatís where you need to prioritize your strengths and the things that are important to you.
Outsourcing is a wonderful thing (I am still learning this myself!).
You should be spending your time doing what makes you the happiest and where you are the most successful using your skills. Youíre a voice talent, not an accountant - so hire an accountant. If your strength isnít in editing, outsource that too (Karen Souer is definitely someone to keep at the top of your list.)
WHAT MATTERS MOST ...
Always keep your eye on the things that matter most to you with a focus on what YOU excel at.
As a VO mom, you need to have a support system in place. I have a handful of people that I love and trust who I can reach out to when I need assistance with childcare.
Fortunately I am able to work most VO gigs and auditions around the kids, but when a VO comes in that needs to take priority, I already have everything in place to make it happen without missing out on the job or feeling like Iím letting my kids down.
WHAT WORKS FOR YOU?
Now youíre either thinking, WOW thatís awesome, I canít wait to do that, too. OR, holy cow, this woman is nuts - I couldnít imagine having such a rigid schedule.
Like I said, you have to do what works for you. This definitely works for me.
One thing I can say though, is the schedule I create the night before almost never stays completely as scheduled once the day begins - and thatís okay! I adjust the times and activities as needed. By having this outline sketched out in advance, my day goes so much smoother.
Happy voicing, Mama!
Heather Costa is a full-time voice over talent and a member of the Voxy Ladies. Her voice over credits include Finish Line, Clear Channel, PetSmart, Chase Banking Corporation, Comcast, Prentice Hall, Carrier, the Educational Testing Service, the Village Voice and eBay.
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