One of my favorite movies is I Don’t Know How She Does It. It stars Sarah Jessica Parker and garnered a mere 17 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. In it, Parker tries to juggle the many roles she plays in life: mother, wife, friend, and manager at an investment firm.
I remember watching it for the first time while folding my baby’s laundry. Despite the fact that no one else seemed to enjoy the movie, I found myself nodding along with the heroine’s challenges as if she was telling the world our little secret: If you want something done, have a mother do it.
Here are three lessons I’ve learned as a mother — stay with me — that have made me a better entrepreneur:
1. Moms make every minute count.
Every day at 12 P.M. sharp I would put my little ones down for their naps, kiss each of their foreheads, quietly shut their doors, and then sprint to my home office. I would whip open my laptop and get right to work — no time for Facebook, no time for pinning new recipes. When kids are really little, nap time is the only time moms have any time to get things done. And, like little ticking time bombs, without knowing how long the kids would sleep, mothers have no choice but to make the most of every second of it.
Managing distractions is one of the single greatest skills mother’s learn. When your available hours for working are completely dependent on the whims of tiny, helpless humans, you don’t waste a single moment. With the growing body of research about the true detriment of a distracted workforce, this skill is even more valuable.
The next time you feel you don’t have enough time to meet a deadline, pretend you have a sleeping toddler in the next room who, at any moment could wake up and demand your full attention. That will motivate you to turn off your instagram notifications real quick.
2. Moms know how much a minute is worth.
I was a stay at home mom, was four months pregnant with my second child, and we were planning a remodel of our kitchen and entryway. We estimated the project would cost about ten thousand dollars.
However, right about that time I decided I wanted to start a business. I knew, in order to build that business, I would need more kid-free time. I remember sitting down with my husband and proposing that instead of spending that money on a remodel, we should spend it on childcare.
The phrase, “Time is money” is frequently associated with high-powered sales jobs. However, no one knows the price of a minute better than a mother does and not only in terms of dollars and cents.
I remember leaving the house one day after the nanny we hired arrived and my daughter sobbed, wanting me to stay. As I drove to the coffee shop to do my work that afternoon, I vowed to make every minute away (and dollar I invested to have those minutes) count.
Do you know how much a minute of your time is worth? If not, follow a mother’s advice and figure it out. And let that number motivate you to spend it — both the time and the money — better.
3. Moms can work anywhere.
No place is sacred in motherhood — the kids will always find you. On more than one occasion I’ve taken sales calls in my closet or sent an email while hiding the bathroom.
As a result, moms are extremely adaptive. The world is my office.
Sure, I prefer to sit at a desk, but sometimes my office is in my car while I wait in the elementary school pickup line. I’ve written many an Inc.com article while sitting in the boarding area waiting to catch a flight. The more work I get done on the road, the more time I’ll have at home with my kids.
The next time you forgo making some progress on a big project because the working environment is not quite right, think of the mom sending emails while on a play date at the park. If she can do it, why can’t you?
Even though I Don’t Know How She Does It doesn’t make any must-watch movie lists, don’t let the message be lost on you. Whether you watch the film or pay closer attention to the working mom on your block, make no mistake: Some of the greatest time managers are so because they’re mothers.