Learning expense management from mother of all multi-tasking tasks

Mums can multi-task. It must be true because they all say it. And surely the mother of all multi-tasking tasks must be, if you’ll pardon the pun, motherhood. But there has to be more to it than a genetic ability to do two or more things at once, surely? Blogger Stuart Pearcey looks at how mums make themselves a force to be reckoned with.

Let’s face it, men and women have different skills, and I speak as one who is still unnerved by what I’ve perceived to be a female tendency to turn a map upside down to make it ‘easier’ to read.

But I have to say, and I’m working hard to stay as far as possible from stereotypes, that women are much better than men at all sorts of things. My wife, for example, is said by the kids to have the hearing of a bat; they believe she can hear a morsel of sugary doughnut drop on a sofa from the next room.

I’ve tried to work out why working mums in general, and business-owning women in particular, seem to be so good at getting stuff done, and I’ve come up with four underlying abilities; the reasons, I think, that business-owning mums in particular can apparently have it all.

Sure, they may well have help from childcare and extended families, but all of that needs managing too, and, done successfully, will dovetail with everything else driven by the same four abilities… Here they are, in no particular order – but notice; they’re all about time, and making the most of every minute, which is the lesson we should all take from this.

In our house we measure things in ‘Andrews’; it’s my wife’s chosen version of football pitches, double-decker buses, and Wales, and relates to the age of our son. Ask her when anything happened, and she’ll say: “Well, Andrew was seven, (or 10 or 15, it doesn’t matter) so that will have been in 19-whatever-it-was.” And then she’ll go unerringly to the correct receipt, or letter, or insurance policy. But it’s not just with historical records that the female memory triumphs; the female of the species remembers who said what about in what context, thus saving hours of trawling back through old emails and notebooks to find nuggets of information.

This is the greatest trait of a business mum; the ability to press on with doing things that need doing, or making sure they get done by others, in a relentless rhythm. Sure, she’ll get tired, but somehow finds time to press on through the work until everything that has to be done is done, at which point she’ll stop. Perhaps she’ll be in an exhausted heap, but you can be sure than everything that was wanted will have been done so that the following day starts with a clean slate.

There’s no idle chatter from a business mum when there are tasks to be accomplished. The focus is on the job in hand, so she can often be found dealing with an email or two having made sure that homework is getting done and tomorrow’s packed lunch is in the fridge before running a vacuum cleaner around the lounge and reading a bedtime story.  There will be no distracting her either; new tasks will be slotted into an already packed schedule based on their urgency.

No random errand-running from the successful business mum. If she needs to go anywhere, it’ll be rolled up in a series of other tasks that all have to be attended to in whatever window of opportunity she’s able to open up between client meetings, answering emails, and making sure there’s a meal on the table for the children before their after school club. And fitting those elements into her life is done with the precision of a 1,000-piece jigsaw, which it sort of is, in a way. If one of them is in the wrong place, then that impacts on all the others around it. Expect to see lists as well; sometimes they’ll be on individual pieces of paper, but at home they’re more likely to be on one of those planner calendars, where every family member has a column of their own with their own appointments or reminders carefully logged.

Expense management appAt work, there will be numerous apps to help her and her colleagues, and activity will be meticulously recorded. We’d like to think that the mix will include expense manager app Solo Expenses Personal Use, so she can keep a track of all of her personal and business expenses, knowing that when she needs to pull the numbers together, they’ll all be there, at the flick of a thumb.

She’ll have discovered that it’s the only money management app created for sole traders, but its so versatile it’s equally happy being the expense manager for individuals and families too. And what’s more, she’ll have welcomed the fact that it’s free to download here. Perhaps you should try it too, and see how much time you can save – not to mention money, which will happen when you understand your spending patterns.