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A Day In The Life: Holly Harper


A Day In The Life: Holly Harper

The April 2017 edition of Inc. magazine detailed A Day in the Life of eight entrepreneurs at the top of their game.  CHAMPS was curious; how do our members, themselves local entrepreneurs and business leaders at the top of their game, make it work?  Here’s our first look behind the scenes with Holly Harper of Blue Bike Communications.  

Holly Harper

Freelance Writer / Small Business Marketing Consultant
Blue Bike Communications

One particular bit of research from the book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play when No One Has the Time, by local journalist and busy parent Brigid Schulte, has stuck with me since I had my daughter in 2012 – people who work part-time and/or from home and are caregivers are the most stressed of all of us.

Why? True multitasking, the constant changing of hats, tasks, and directions in a single day, is simply exhausting. When you have shorter, broken up periods of work and a larger share of personal and domestic commitments (and therefore you likely become the default parent because you’re “part time”), the intensity and pace of life dramatically increases.

Not that I’m complaining. My life is full, but I often compare my calendar to a game of Tetris.

So how do I keep my stress manageable, my home life sailing on calm waters, and my business thriving? Commitment to the calendar.

Between Google Calendar, Google docs, Asana, Harvest, Wave, and Calendly, I schedule everything (literally, everything…). My method: Stop procrastinating, do what’s on the list, no distractions, and be sure to schedule in some happy hours and some “absolutely nothing” blocks.


April 26, 2017


OMG! I’ve been asleep for more than 2 hours by 12am most nights.


Yes, this time for an alarm seems odd, but it’s exactly enough time for me to get up, get dressed, and get out the door in time for the…


Old City Crossfit class. The best thing about Crossfit: I don’t have to schedule anything except setting my alarm at 5:42am. For busy people, an instructor-led class allows me scratch “plan workout routine” off the to-do list. It’s pricey, but you get what you pay for – more free time, hands-on coaching, strength and conditioning, and community.


Drive to Miner Elementary School, where my daughter is in PK4, and drop off bags and bags of treats for the big kids and teachers so they can get through these next two weeks of PARCC standardized testing.


Check email. I WON A PROPOSAL! Woot! Crap! … Jump in shower while thinking, “This is a big one – marketing and social media planning for a non-profit organization that may include travel and I have to be the expert. Deep breaths. I can do this.”


Kid awake, wrestle into uniform, braid hair, cereal, PBS kids, pack bookbag, supplies.


Walk to school (yes, I am aware that we are 15 minutes late, per usual). Hugs and love and hellos!


Organize the massive, growing pile of generous donations for the Miner PTO Community Yard Sale, Saturday, May 6 at 9am…(hint, hint). I’m the chair of the fundraiser, so come!  (Don’t worry these items have been sorted out).


Walk home to find a sick spouse-zombie walking around the house and the exasperated housekeeper wondering what to do with him. Seclude self in office with coffee and computer to work.


11:10am – 2:45pm

Phone on completely silent (not even vibrate). No distractions. In the zone. Focus on client work, as follows:

  • Email tete-a-tete
  • Social Media Management (Topic: USAF Air Show Event in NC) – 20 minutes
  • Brochure edits, round 4 (Topic: Fracking) – 3 minutes
  • Blogging (Topic: Sustainability Consulting) – 1 hour

[Check email and waste 15 minutes on social media. Refill coffee. Put in load of laundry.]

  • Copy Edits to Book Design (Topic: Bilingual Teen Math Book) – 30 minutes
  • Advertising Design and Promotional Material Design (Topic: Waterbeds for Dairy Cows) – 1.5 hours


Lunch break! Empty dishwasher. Reheat leftovers. Call Dad for a chat (I use mealtimes and driving times for quick check-ins with friends and family. Helps me stay connected to my global network and is efficient!)


Conference call with a new client! (Topic: Email content for a global food supplier to their restaurant customers).


It’s WEDNESDAY! It’s 25% off day at The Thrift! Since we’re renovating a Southern Maryland fixer-upper, and I still need a few things, I’d better run up there really quick. And make it a business trip by stopping at the bank to deposit some checks and pick up a few things at the CVS for the school yard sale.


Convince spouse to pick up the kiddo and take her to the park (mostly to get the dog walking done before dinner) while I drive home. Traffic! Ugh.


Cook dinner. It’s filet mignon tonight (Note: NOT normal. Just happened to be the only meat left in the freezer. Score!). Eat. Clean up. Bedtime routine for the tiny human.


Join friends for the premier of The Handmaid’s Tale. Dystopia. Popcorn. Summer bourbon drinks. Good conversation.


Come home. Settle in the basement for some catching up on email, the news, and Pinterest. Read my daily 10mins (it’s amazing how you can get back to reading full books and articles by setting aside just 10 minutes!). Confirm conference call for Friday (Topic: Blog posts for non-profit sector fundraising managers).


Brush teeth. Jammies. Set alarm for 5:42am. Sleep.