Cat-wrangling on the high prairie

So, I said my second post would be about sharing your home space with your work space, but real life has offered up a more immediate topic - business travel. Yay, real life!

I’m in Iowa this week for strategic planning for the Community Broadband Action Network (CBAN) (LINK), an organization I co-founded to help bring better broadband to under-served areas in the U.S. I’m from Iowa originally, and my two partners (Curtis Dean and Todd Kielkopf) still live here. Yesterday we did an online lunch and learn for 20 new and prospective members, and in a few hours I’m sitting on a marketing round table at the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities’ (IAMU) fall conference. Several of my clients are local utilities and municipalities in Iowa, so I’m looking forward to catching up with some of them. I’ve also got a few close friends and family members I’d like to see, plus there’s JUST SO MUCH BEEF to tempt a girl who’s trying to go fully veg. It feels like a lot. Good, but a lot.

I’m 600 miles away from my command station, and I tried really hard before I left to get all my clients settled before my business travel so I could stay mostly focused here. Predictably, though, clients are like kittens – you love them, but they just won’t stay put.

So much to do, so many priorities

Right now, I’m parked at my business partner’s dining room table. I should be working on my material for the roundtable and updating the CBAN website. Instead, I’m investigating a client’s SEO dip, smoothing over ruffled feathers with a vendor I was accidentally a jerk to through the magic of email-as-enemy-of-tone (that’s another topic!) and onboarding an awesome new client that’s blowing my mind with the possibilities. Oh yeah, I’m also eating oatmeal and writing this blog post.

It would be easy to tell you that I’ve got this, that it’s super smooth and I’m a multi-tasking maven – but that would not be true. Not for me, and I honestly believe not for most people. In fact, I am mystified by why we even value the ability to pay half-baked attention to 10 things at once.

I’m guessing Michelangelo was not checking his Facebook (or its 1509 equivalent) while painting angels in the Sistine Chapel. Everybody remembers his work, but what have you or I produced that will stand tall for 50 years, let alone 500? Ponder that, maybe it’s yet another blog topic!

3 ways I’m balancing a crazy week of business travel

So how am I dealing with my week?

  1. Setting - and adhering to - priorities
  2.  Staying focused
  3. Allowing pragmatism

More or less in that order.

My top priority is to smooth over my vendor relationship.  Great vendor partners are key to a solopreneur’s success. I’ve worked with this company for years and I know it will be okay, but mending fences shouldn’t wait. I don’t want to give a misunderstanding time to fester into something bigger, but I only have time for one email right now, so I am writing it carefully with a request for a follow-up call. The SEO dip is important and I’ve run the reports I need to analyze, but realistically it can’t be fixed in five minutes so I’ll download the data and work on the plane tomorrow evening. As for my new client, we’ve had our big intro meeting and set up a space in Evernote that he’s busy populating. He doesn’t need me today, I’m just excited and hovering.

Did you notice what fell off my list? CBAN, my passion project. I can work on that in bed tonight or early in the morning. And as long as I am a good listener at the round table, I don’t really need to prepare something specific – I know the industry – down to the people who will be in the room. I can predict most of the problems they’ll bring to the session and learn from any that are new.

So for now, I’m going to brush my teeth before my ride to the conference gets here.


Cowgirl in Paradise is supported by National Business Furniture, a company that has lots to offer small businesses of all sizes – even mine, which is in my cedar house in northern Michigan. I’ve been checking out their home office collection lately, lots of different looks to choose from!

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