How do you work with time? In our culture it’s simply so common for us to feel like there isn’t enough time, or that we have to make more time; that things had to be done yesterday. And this feeling ends up getting us absolutely stuck—it sends us nowhere because when you feel as if you don’t have the time, or you’re “too late”, “too old”, or the endeavor feels too far away to achieve, instead we stall and we remain in the comfort of the easy busy work of now—instead of planting the seeds of next year’s harvest.
As I grew to prepare for Mother Butter, something began ringing for me amongst the many stories I listened to of entrepreneurs before me. It took YEARS (particularly in food) to build a trustworthy and known brand. In those cases it didn’t matter the amount of resources the business had, no matter what, time was an element that simply had to be. A lot like having a baby, actually. We’ve gotta wait, we have to allow the gestation to happen, it’s something we can rely upon that’s out of our hands: allow the time to go by, water and sun the seeds, reap when the time is right.
On the other hand, in the entrepreneurial role (and mother role), there is a lot of focus on: how are you spending your time? A pressure, really, to get that right.
I started a program from Santander Bank called Cultivate Small Business last week. It’s a semester with Babson University professors and industry experts in food. It’s taking up time, but I know it’s time well spent. An investment in me and my wherewithall, which needs to be prioritized amongst all of the things. We ironically spent an hour doing a “time” activity where we wrote down all of the tasks we do for our businesses daily, weekly and monthly on colored index cards. We applied an approximate amount of time to each task and then we did a series of reorganizing these tasks to give ourselves perspective on how much time in a day we spend on “X” function (Marketing vs. Operations/Product vs. People Management vs. Money Matters). It was really helpful and insightful. It’s also a great way to face what it is you might be ignoring (for me, always within the numbers realm), and think about why.
You may know, women have a unique relationship with time and we can lean into it very strategically. Our literal physiology is impacted in phases of ~one week timeframes, or by the cycle of the moon. We experience all four seasons within our bodies throughout a month's time, over and over again. I’ve been inspired for years by this concept: you can follow our own unique infradian rhythm to be your most successful, balanced, powerful self. It’s easier said than done, however a simple awareness that you’re not the same woman you were last week is helpful when you look up at the sky, fist shaking, “Why??” (I suggest clicking the links I share within this paragraph to dig in deeper)
Pregnancy and motherhood in general put us on a new clock; one where we’re planning much more than before and also exist at the beckon call by someone else. It’s such a difficult adjustment (especially for this “geriatric” mama who was very comfortable doing her own thing for so many years). When I was facing this transition I looked at it as a huge problem to solve; one I wanted to solve through my next endeavor. I’m still realizing how to pace this business and how to engage other parents to come and work with me at their pace, while being able to fulfill the needs of the 9-5 tick-tock world we’re living in. It’s certainly not impossible yet so far it’s just slow.
What I heard from my peers yesterday as we all moaned through the “time” exercise was a lot of: I’m working around the clock, I spend 10 hours a day just making my product, etc. etc. While in the beginning here I had many late nights, lately, admittedly, I do not. Almost 6 months pregnant, I know my limits. And that limit is bed by 8:30pm, sleep til 6:30ish… I used to do very early rising, all the things, but that good old forcing function that is motherhood, is keeping me limited and focused.
Slow and steady—I believe in this pace.
Admittedly, I can’t help but hear where my peers are in their businesses and feel that pang of being behind and the anxiety of, can I get where they are? You know, we’ll just have to wait and see. Patience is part of the strategy. Trust and belief is part of the strategy. Time will be my gift, not my vulnerability.