Why Most Business Productivity Books Suck

By Women Love Tech
on 26 June 2023

Author Kate Toon says ‘I couldn’t find a book on how to be a successful business-owning parent. So I wrote one.’ Here’s her story.

This morning I woke up at 5am feeling refreshed and energised, after meditating and doing an hour of yoga, I made myself a wholesome green smoothie while listening to whale music. Then sitting at my clean, white desk I started the day with gratitude, my mind hyper-focused.

Excuse me while I snort.
The reality for most parents is waking up at 7am feeling more tired than when they went to bed, having a quick shower and brushing their teeth (on a good day maybe even brushing hair), stumbling into the kitchen to make breakfast for small humans, while mainlining coffee.

And when that’s all done, the dishwasher stacked, the school drop-off finished, a quick Coles dash squeezed in, we sit at desks and try to mash 27 hours of work into five.

And we wonder if it’s even possible to have a successful business and still be a good parent?

The truth is, the business and parenting struggle is having a massive impact on our wellbeing.  According to the National Working Families Report 2019, 62% of respondents said they struggled with their own physical and mental health as they juggled working and caring for their families. And around a third said it was contributing to stress and tension in their relationships with their partners and children.

But where’s the help?

Yes, there are plenty of business productivity books out there, but most of them totally ignore the fact that many of us were up until 3am trying to get our two-year-old to stay in bed. Many of them are written by people who perhaps don’t do the lion’s share of kid wrangling or carry the mental load of parenting.

And then there are the ‘mumpreneur’ books offering trite advice about working while the kids nap and manifesting success through journaling. This approach excludes dads and ignores the harsh realities of business life that can’t be fixed with a mantra and a mood board.

Kate Toon
Author Kate Toon says ‘I couldn’t find a book on how to be a successful business-owning parent. So I wrote one.’

So if you’re struggling to be an amazing business person and a great parent, and right now feel like you’re doing a terrible job of both. I feel you!

My priority was to be a good parent who does craft with their child and bakes homemade oatmeal biscuits. My other priority was to be a killer business person who does impeccable marketing, feels confident about their cash flow and relentlessly dreams big.

These two goals fit together like two ill-fitting, damp jigsaw pieces.

I was exhausted, wracked with guilt, struggling with debt and piling on the pounds. I had a constant anxious feeling in my chest and a to-do list longer than a long thing. There were never enough hours in the day, and I felt like too little butter spread over too much bread. Something had to change so I changed it.

Moving my mindset
I started by taking a good hard look at my goals and weighing up my ‘business why’ against my desire for an easy family life. Next, I dug into my attitudes around parenting, including different parenting styles, and what ‘good parenting’ actually means to me (not what it looks like on Instagram).

Improving my productivity
Next, I mastered time management – getting real about the time I had to work each day (about four hours max), creating sacred work time where I would NOT put the washing on. Tricking my mind into easy productivity with tactics like a three-thing-to-do list, Pomodoro timers and creating carefully time-blocked calendars to keep me on track.

Slaying my money beast

Next, it was time to tackle my financial mindset and stop telling myself I wasn’t good with numbers – instead, I became good with numbers, hiring professionals, wading through trainings and implementing Profit First.
The biggest lesson here was that yes, I could dial that six-figure income up – or down – but it depended entirely on the compromises I was willing to make.

Creating a family business
Then came getting my family involved in my business, whether it was my young son writing out envelopes, or ensuring the family helped much more with the day-to-day of running the home. Eventually, I even employed my son (now 13) in my business as my social media manager.

What about me?
Finally, came communication and self-care. I had the difficult conversations I needed to have with my partner, son, friends and customers.
I decided to stop hiding the fact that yes, I’d produced a human. And to stop telling myself that in order to be professional I needed to pretend not to be a parent.
I gave up on the idea of having it all – right now. I can have it all but maybe it’s going to take longer – and guess what? The world will wait. Oh, and I got better at looking after myself. Managing my ego and self-talk.
Because here’s the thing, without a solid, happy you, neither your family nor your business can truly thrive.

Honestly, most productivity advice feels like flimsy get-rich-quick schemes: ‘I’m

 going to sell you a pipe dream of making millions while working in a hammock for a few hours a week.’
And these puffed-up success strategies or impractical ‘hacks’ don’t work for real-life parents. (Nor do, navel-gazing, woo-woo or fluffy, airy advice books).

Rather we need an honest, practical handbook that tells the truth about what it really takes for parents just like you to run a successful business, make decent money and avoid burning yourself to a frazzle in the process.

Six Figures in School Hours is a combination of ‘I’ve been there’ comfort and ‘Don’t go there’ advice. And it will give you the skills, the tools and the confidence to create a flourishing business, always be present and never feel like the worst parent in the world again.

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