Being an entrepreneur is not easy. But, compared to parenting, entrepreneurship is a piece of cake. As a parent, you have to get up early, make sure the kids are washed, fed and dropped off at school before heading out to your own workplace and put in a day’s work.
Then there are those after-school activities you need to show up for and, at the same time, you have a huge client meeting. The kids need to be picked up from school, helped with homework, fed and put to bed. You then spend a few quality minutes catching up with your spouse, at which point you have no energy left, so you sink into an exhausted sleep so that you can wake up and do it all over again tomorrow.
This is not counting nights when the children have nightmares or can’t sleep, when they’re sick or when you or your spouse is sick. It’s certainly not easy to balance being a parent and the grueling schedule of an entrepreneur, and often, the one common thing you learn is that you cannot do everything. You’re not superman or superwoman.
No matter how good a juggler you are, once in a while, a ball will drop and you’ll start beating yourself up for it. Don’t; skip the self-loathing and give yourself a break. You’re doing a good job trying to keep everything running on schedule, and even you deserve to be cut a little slack.
How you allocate your time is a personal decision because only you fully understand how important (or not) certain tasks are. However, your well-being depends on effective management of your work and family, because both are important parts of your life. Below are ten tips to help you in your journey towards establishing a healthy work-home life balance.
1. Clock out first tomorrow
As an entrepreneur, you may find yourself poring over work long after everyone has clocked out for the day. Occasionally it’s necessary, but when it’s not, leave early. Pick up the children, make dinner, help with homework, put them to bed and relax with your spouse for an hour or two before bed. The business will not collapse, we promise.
2. Be a good boss
It’s okay if you like to show up for work at 5am and leave at 10pm, but it’s important to understand that your employees also have families that need to be taken care of. In your business, come up with a system/code so that urgent matters are known and dealt with, but once it’s time to go home, let your employees fulfill their family responsibilities in peace.
- Watch your diary like a hawk
Especially in the teething stages, and later when the business is established and drawing clients by the hordes, your diary can become pretty packed. First, merge your home plans into your work diary so that your assistant knows when you’re unavailable (and reminds you in case you forget).
Don’t get so fully booked you have to run everything like a robot. Handle two thirds of the priority work during your most productive hours and then the not so important ones for when you’re a bit tired. Have only so many client meetings in one day and refuse to budge unless for true emergency situations. Let clients know and work around your schedule.
4. Work smarter, not harder
Find out if there are more efficient ways to handle energy-draining or time-consuming tasks. Instead of getting stuck in rush-hour traffic heading out to a client meeting, can you video-conference, for instance? Discuss your tasks with your manager and get rid of unnecessary wasting of time and energy.
5. Schedule a personal chores time
Choose a time every month when you will be going over your personal ‘to-do’ list – paying utility bills, making appointments with a doctor or some other specialist. Have them written down so that when you sit to deal with them, nothing is left untended to.
You don’t have to spend two hours each day with a personal trainer for you to be well exercised, but it is important to work exercise into your daily life. For instance, you can ditch the elevator and start taking the stairs, get off one stop before your workplace and walk the remaining part, walking to your lunch place and client appointments that are not too far, among others. 20 minutes to a half hour of brisk walking is enough, and you can work it in somewhere.
7. Rest and relaxation
Do not underestimate the power of taking a break every day. No matter how hectic the day is, make time to relax and unwind, even if it’s for 10 minutes. Do something calming that you like – reading a book, listening to music or switching everything off and taking a power nap in the office. Scheduling time for relaxation dramatically improves productivity.
8. Ask for assistance
You’re no superman, so if you need help, just ask. Instead of balking under pressure and stress of too much to do, find tasks on your plate that can be delegated to others on the team, and accept the imperfection that can come with having others do it.
If you’re employed and cannot fit your workload into working hours, either you aren’t managing something properly, or you have too much on your plate. Either way, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
9. No such thing as ‘perfect’
Just like you mustn’t expect it from others, you mustn’t expect it from yourself. Do a good job, to the best of your ability and surpassing acceptable standards. Identify areas where extra effort is needed, and where okay is good enough. Don’t break your back trying to be perfect at everything.
10. Can you work from home?
Occasionally explore the option of working from the house, especially if you have a trusted employee that can manage the business. This will give you the chance to deal with arising issues, like taking care of a sick child for instance, and cut the time wasted in commuting.
Even at home, have a dedicated workspace where you can be just as productive, but be careful to not let this take over – when it’s time to leave and deal with the family, deliberately leave and tend to the family. Let your kids and others in the home understand that you want minimum disruption when you’re in your workspace.
Bonus tip: No is a full sentence
You can’t do everything for everyone. Be kind, but be realistic. If you know it will stretch your limits, don’t be afraid to say no – kindly, but ever so firmly.
Jack Dawson is a web developer and UI/UX specialist at http://remotedba.com/. He works at a Remote DBA Expert firm, having founded the same firm 9 years ago. He likes to share knowledge and points of view with other Oracle developers and consumers on platforms.