Squirrels and Juggling

One of my favorite parts from the movie, UP, is when the old man and boy scout find the talking dog and in mid-sentence he stops and shouts, “squirrel!”.

The cute talking dog from UP.
The cute talking dog from UP.
Doug the talking dog distracted by a squirrel.
Doug the talking dog distracted by a squirrel.

I laughed so hard and it is still a favorite phrase in our family because we relate to it so well.  I have a son with Asperger’s Syndrome and his whole life is about losing focus.  For example, this week I asked my son to water the little evergreen trees outside of our store door.  After several minutes I realized he had not returned so I went out to check on him.  This is what I found:

My son completely enthralled with the water running through the cracks.  Yea, he forgot about the trees.
My son completely enthralled with the water running through the cracks. Yea, he forgot about the trees.

I laugh so hard when things like this happen.  It’s another “SQUIRREL!” moment.

Honestly, running a business is a lot like chasing squirrels and juggling them at the same time.

There are constant interruptions, distractions, and pressings matters and juggling them all is quite the chore.  That’s where time management comes in (which I suck at, by the way).  I have a bit of the “SQUIRREL!” syndrome – getting easily distracted and losing my focus, then I have interruptions that I don’t always know what to do with & being a business owner there are ALWAYS pressing matters.  It doesn’t matter how many hours I have to work, there are always more pressing matters than there are hours in the day.

So what are some of those squirrels and interruptions I deal with?

  • The phone call from an advertiser. Or 2, or 3, or ………
  • The potential customer wanting pictures of products which takes a big chunk of time (and half the time I don’t ever hear from them again).

    Showing a customer current cell phone case choices
    Showing a customer current cell phone case choices
  • A message on twitter (that turns into a half-hour of reading twitter)
  • Checking Facebook (because I think there has to something important I have to post – usually not).
  • A solicitor walking in my door.  Or 2, or 3, or……..
  • An upcoming artist who has to show me their creations.  Or 2, or 3, or…….
  • Unexpected friends or neighbors “stopping” by.  Or 2, or 3, or ……
  • Reading that new magazine that just came in the mail.
  • Getting a call to go to out with a friend.

    I love my "Girl Time"!
    I love my “Girl Time”!
  • Talking to the post man about the world’s problems and how to solve them (miss you Tom!)
  • The UPS man arrives (that’s ALWAYS fun and distracts me for several hours!)

    Every time a box arrives it's like Christmas and I drop everything to drool over what arrives!
    Every time a box arrives it’s like Christmas and I drop everything to drool over what arrives!
  • Checking email….. Again.
  • Checking my bank account (again) in hopes that more money has magically appeared.
  • Helping my son with an assignment (I homeschool my son.  He has a little school room built into the store.)
  • Realizing that I need to add a product (or 2, or 3, or….) to our online store so I get out all my photo equipment and start taking pics until I’m distracted by something else.
    BEFORE:  Purse in my photo cube for web site pictures
    BEFORE: Purse in my photo cube for web site pictures

    AFTER:  Ready to be put on the web site.
    AFTER: Ready to be put on the web site.
  • THE #1 SQUIRREL I CHASE:   Re-merchandising.  If I walk by something in my store and it catches my eye as being out of place I will rearrange that area – but then it affects the products next to it, and next to that, and so on.  And the next thing I know I have spent 4 hours re-merchandising my store (and creating a big mess in the back of the store in the meantime.  Remember the “I’m not messy, I’m rustic” post?  Yea – my store is definitely rustic in the back – which you will never see!!)

    One of my latest displays.  But don't blink.  It will change soon!
    One of my latest displays. But don’t blink. It will change soon!

Some of these things need my attention.  Having a store means I will constantly be interrupted when working on budgeting and other important items and I can’t plan that.  However, customers always deserve to have my full attention when they need it and I need to learn to work WITH that.  Merchandising is important.  My family is important. Teaching my son is important.  So how should I juggle everything AND keep my sanity?

I’m still learning.  Only this I know …

  1. Learning to say “no” to the right things is important.  Solicitors can wait and must.  If I don’t take control of when solicitors can contact me, I WILL be run over by them (I have a hard time saying no because I always feel like I’m being rude.  Well, I’ve decided it’s time to be “rude” or I will never get anything done!)
  2. Making time with friends every couple of weeks is essential (or I go nuts).
  3. Protecting my time schooling my son is necessary.  >> Whatever your family needs make sure you set aside some time for them every week.  There is a balance here.  Getting a business started takes a HUGE amount of time and commitment and it will cost time away from your family for a few years.  Just make sure that there is specific time every week that they get your undivided attention.
  4. Cleaning the back room can wait.  Filing papers can wait. Merchandising can wait some times (though it is still important).  >> Figure out what can wait and let it go (like checking my email and reading magazines!).  I’ve bitten the bullet in hiring a couple of part-time people even though I really can’t afford it yet, but I need help.  I can’t do it all and I had to get to a point to where I was OK with needing help.
  5. I take time to PAUSE a couple times a day and refocus.  >> Figure out if you are inadvertently chasing some squirrels you shouldn’t be chasing and get back on track.
  6. Cut yourself some slack.  You won’t get everything done – ever.  (If you do get it all you’re not growing your business and about to go OUT of business).

For those of you who are ahead of me in your business I tip my hat to you because to be successful you have to master the “squirrels” and the juggling.  For those just thinking about or starting your business – be prepared and expect the squirrels – but don’t let them dictate your day.


Visit our website at www.RockyMountainCowgirl.com or come say “HI” at my store in Colorado Springs.

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