Five years ago, the final day of what I thought would be my last J.O.B. had finally arrived. I had been a part-time entrepreneur ever since my college career came to a close and I was elated to jump in to my entrepreneurial endeavors with both hands and feet. I was familiar with the struggle of small business ownership; the ups and downs of teammates, the highs and lows of finances but the troubles and the triumphs didn’t scare me. I just needed the time to give my whole self to them. Well, the day came and a smile was plastered on my face. I had no savings and the length of ten New York City blocks of innovation. (To me, that was currency!)
Within the next two years, I had a baby and a husband. Oh, how things changed. I continued to pursue my entrepreneurial activities but babies are expensive and the hubby fell ill.
By the fourth year, I received a call from a close friend asking, “Would you be willing to work a regular job for just two weeks?” (Take note of a few of the words my friend used: “willing, regular, just.” She knew who she was calling.) She also knew my family could use the additional income but I loved working from home, so she was gentle + pushy. Without much hesitation, my hubby and I agreed I would take the position.
I started as a two-week temp that rounded out to six weeks. The company called me back three months later to offer me a full-time salaried position with all the benefits you can imagine. It was an incredibly sweet deal. My husband was delighted. I was excited. My mother couldn’t stop congratulating me. But I was frightened. I felt totally blessed but I was definitely scared. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Every day do something that scares you.” Well, I did.
I accepted the position and then tried to figure out how in the heck I was going to balance work, life, and my small businesses. Here are the habits I adopted to “get ‘er done” and keep a real work-life balance.
Budget your time better than your money.
I have met very few people who do an excellent job of keeping track of expenses and income. But those who are sticklers for knowing how their dollar is working for them typically are just as frugal with their time. Regardless of which category you fall into, you must be super savvy with the twenty-four hours you are allotted each day. You will work eight hours. You will sleep eight hours. (I’m praying you do.) There are only eight additional hours you need to make the most out of. Each hour should be assigned to something even if it’s additional rest. Planning is key to you not becoming overwhelmed by the new, God-give position.
Select 3 workdays where lunch is for your small business follow ups.
Consider Monday, Wednesday, and Friday the days you will eat at your desk and take calls on your lunch break. This is a perfect time to have uninterrupted conversations with your team and clients. Outline the discussion points and questions you need answers to. Reserve the first ten minutes for checking the temperature to see how your team/clients are adjusting to your new schedule and availability.
Plan the family’s meals and the meals you will take to work.
My husband is not a super fan of leftovers so that gives me more for lunch. But if dinner meals are not planned, either you will spend unbudgeted funds on eating out or you will waste precious time trying to figure out what to cook. Consider themes for each week: Mexican, Barbeque, Soul Food, Italian, Meatless, Breakfast for Dinner, etc. Such themes can get the culinary juices flowing and set the stage for easy meal planning.
Play intensely with your children before bedtime every night.
My toddler son just wants to be with Mommy once he lays eyes on me. Between the time he gets home from daycare and goes to bed, there are only two hours. He has to eat, play, bathe, and read during those two hours. Although it doesn’t always go that smoothly, I make a strong attempt to do each of those things with him nightly. If your children are infants, preteens or teens, the simple translation is “just spend quality time.” We eliminated television during the week (which my son doesn’t even miss) so we could connect more intentionally. Not to mention, my boy has told me countless times to get off of my phone. Maybe that’s something we all can do (if you don’t already) to really give our undivided attention.
Sleep six to eight hours every night against all odds!
Learn a mind-quieting exercise. Begin incorporation mindfulness and meditation before you go to bed. Use aromatherapy. No matter what, do what is necessary so you can fall into a deep, sound, therapeutic sleep. Your body and mind need this so they can work optimally. Without proper rest, everything you put your hands to will only be completed with partial energy, never really experiencing the fullness of your knowledge and effort.
Workout between 5 AM and 7 AM daily.
Okay “I’m not a morning person” people, I already know what you are mumbling under your breath. But if evenings are left for the family (if you’re not married with children, this time can be for friend and aging parents), exactly when will you fit your workout in?
Take one weekend day off every week.
Despite all you have and can accomplish, you need at least one day to reboot. The same reason you have to take a break at work or have to go on a vacation each year is why you must take one day for self. This day is recharge, reboot, recalibrate day so you don’t go off on someone after a month of no time for you. If you make this a priority, everyone else will adjust. Eventually, even the kids and husband will ask so they know in advance, “what day is You Day?”
Check email exclusively on your smartphone and at the same time each day (Turn Off Notifications).
Set your auto responder now to let folks know you will be checking emails at a specific time and emails received after will be responded to the following day. We spend much too much time rummaging through unimportant emails. Take your time back by setting a certain amount of time for such tasks.
Leave work at work.
What happens at the job stays at the job. I understand some of the greatest and worst things can happen from 9 to 5. The moment you can release some of those frustrations and celebrations you feel better. If you must, than I recommend doing so in part. Your friends want to hang out with you. The children want to enjoy you. Your spouse wants to love on you. Frankly, they don’t know those folks at the job and if it’s not good news, why bother sharing it anyway? Just food for thought there.
Delegate tasks to your business partners, assistants, or employees.
If you are not a solopreneur, be sure to use the team players you put in place. Give them tasks to complete and if they have questions or concerns, have them email you or schedule a time to chat midday. Empower your staff by trusting them. You can’t do it all. If you are a solopreneur, begin outsourcing immediately. Elance.com and oDesk.com can be very beneficial to small companies.
Choose one Sunday a month to spend 8 work hours on your business.
I know this is the day set aside for church and family dinner but you’ve taken a Sunday to do other things before, so don’t be shy. This is necessary. To continue pushing your business ahead, you will need to give one solid day per month to your business. During this time, you will set up the next thirty days, close a few deals, and open a few others. I chose one Sunday to start and complete a web design project. Before I had the 9 to 5 job, I would have paced myself throughout the week but the new schedule doesn’t permit that. So, an adjustment had to be made and I couldn’t believe how much I could get done in one day.
Create a chore calendar for the entire family and stick to it.
Chores are pretty standard. If there’s a meal plan, there should be a chore schedule. Make it simple, slightly rigid, and let the duties switch weekly for each household member. That kills the monotony and no one feels like they are doing all of the same work.
Plan a family activity one day each week
Eat at a restaurant, go bike-riding, watch a movie, play a board game. The goal is simple: do something together that allows you to connect with one another. Don’t allow your tight schedule to suck the fun out of life. There is still time. How do I know? Because people make time for what they want. They want to be with you and you need to be with them.
Make date night a priority
If you’re married, your spouse is the most important person in your life. Happy wife, happy life, right guys? Ladies, that goes for us too. We want happy, fulfilled husbands and they absolutely cannot be the afterthought. So make date night a staycation! Plan something wonderful for Friday night or Friday through Saturday. Call the babysitter and let her know she will be needed this weekend. Take a leisurely drive to the coast. Get dressed up and go dancing. Shut in for twenty-four hours and watch movies, eat, and practice making more babies. Just make whatever it is you both enjoy doing a priority every week.
It’s entirely possible to have a full life with a new full-time job, family, friends, spouses, extracurricular activities, and your passion-based small businesses. You just have to be an assertive planner with a focused objective to live happily and restfully every day.