By Mary Nicole Douglas
Work/Life balance. What is that? Weekends off. What is that? Vacations. Who goes on those? Owning a business is a huge time commitment, and it can cause a major strain on your personal life. I personally struggle in this area. Working 80-plus hours a week and even more during tax time has unfortunately become my routine. I find myself juggling between business and personal time and dropping the ball—mainly on the personal side.
There has to be a better way! How can I fix this? I had to ask around because it was obvious I didn’t know the answer.
Joanne Smikle of Smikle Training Services recommended working on blending versus balancing. I decided to dig more into blending to learn what she was referring to. Work/life balance seems to be outdated and unattainable. The reality is we will continue to have multiple equally important priorities to juggle. Focusing more on work-life “integration” instead of work-life “balance” may just be the answer to making the juggling easier. As small business owners, we have the flexibility to schedule meetings, conference calls, etc., around our children’s activities or family time. A lot of people choose to be small business owners for the flexibility it provides. Are we really using the flexibility to our advantage? The key is to use the flexibility to better balance your life.
Blending responsibilities. What exactly does Joanne mean by blending? Blending multiple responsibilities so that they support one another, for instance, bringing your child with you to volunteer activities so they learn the values of service. You spend time together, fulfill your volunteer commitments, and your children learn valuable skills and lessons about becoming well-rounded and effective community-minded citizens, simultaneously.
Weekly meal preparation. Another suggestion was picking a day for weekly meal preparation with your children. Weekly mean preparation blends teaching healthy nutrition and spending time with the children, and the end result is having several meals ready in the fridge or freezer for the week.
Important Note: Sounds like as many things as possible need to be accomplished with our children/family. Those self-centered days might not be over, but they are certainly limited, and that’s a good thing when you have a family!
At the office. Some children may enjoy helping at the office. They can make copies while you respond to emails or meet with clients. I decided to let my daughter and niece make copies for me during tax time. I had a few clients, and my daughter got to see what time away at the office really involves. It was great to include them in my day even if they didn’t get my undivided attention.
We often think more is better. Another great tip Joanne gave was: “Try doing less and doing it better rather than doing more and doing it mediocre.” Personally, in order to do this I have to build a team. I recommend David Ramsey’s book, Entreleadership. It is a great resource when looking to build a solid team. There comes a point when you simply cannot have it all, do it all, or be it all. Learn to leverage a solid team to get the job done. There are other ways to leverage help. There are administrative duties that can be done by an assistant. A concept that is gaining a lot of attention is Virtual Assistants. You may not need a full-time person to handle administrative tasks, but the tasks you have are overwhelming you. I have learned to outsource the things I can leverage for an assistant. I highly recommend a Charlotte-based entrepreneurship called The Tanner Solution. Simply put, it is having my own administrative assistant at my finger tips.
Excessive working has major downfalls on families. My daughter often gets frustrated at how much time I spend working. I have learned to make the time we spend together quality time! Making sure she is getting my undivided attention when it is her time. It is very challenging to turn off outside distractions, but it is a priority to make her feel her time with me is important.
Spouses can also feel slighted by the time committed to work. Communication is the best way to overcome those barriers. I recently spoke with Damian and Jermaine Johnson of No Grease Inc., and I asked how they deal with the demands of owning a corporation and having a family. They both agreed communication plays a huge part in their marriages.
In fact, I decided to evaluate a few things, and you should too. Ask yourself the following questions—and research the answers, as well—Try doing it right here—right now. I left you some space to write:
- I am committed to:
- I am happiest when:
- What am I willing to give up?
- What things can I eliminate from my life that have little relevance?
I have personally decided to make goals for Work/Life Blending:
If I have to work on Saturdays during non tax season, I will only do two Saturdays a month from 8:00 a.m. to noon.
Monday – Thursday from 6 – 8 pm is homework time with my daughter. There will be no distractions (phone or internet). If she doesn’t need my help, I will sit there quietly with her and do work.
I will take time at least once a month to do something enjoyable for myself other than work (I actually enjoy working)—whether it is by myself or with friends I haven’t spent time with in awhile.
I will include my daughter as much as possible during tax season.
Work/Life Blending is something I am committed to. I want a life that is balanced with having a business I love and having quality time with family and friends. Figure out what things can be done to create a better quality of life for you!