Hello, Holiday Weekend! So good to see you again – it’s been way too long! I’m looking forward to catching up…and not feeling guilty for taking time off work!
The great thing about running your own business is flexible scheduling. The tough thing about running your own business is…flexible scheduling. Family demands somehow manage to creep into the workday. Work demands (especially the ‘administrivia’!) often get pushed to the weekend or evening when you can work without interruption or distraction. The demands never seem to end; there is ALWAYS something else to be done and it can be really hard to keep everything in check without going a little nuts.
There are times when I look back longingly at the days of punching in on a time clock. Things just seemed so simple back then. You worked when you were at work; you were off when you went home. You got paid for the hours you put in. No need to think about the upcoming quarter or reporting or payroll or making decisions. Boundaries were clearly defined and made it relatively easy to know when to make time for the demands of work and when you dealt with everything else. As an entrepreneur, those lines quickly get fuzzy.
Dealing with issues as they come up is one way to get things done but it usually means reacting to events and people instead of being proactive and in control. Flexible scheduling does not mean no scheduling. It’s kind of like tax time – the more prepared and up-to-date you are, the faster and easier it is to file the return, and the more likely it is you will do it accurately and efficiently. It’s the same in business. Someone once told me that the secret to being a successful entrepreneur was self-discipline and time management. That concept, like the board game Othello, takes a minute to learn but a lifetime to master.
Small business owners wear many hats. I’ve come to realize that it’s crucial to your business and your sanity to respect each role and dedicate a little bit of time each week to working on specific tasks for each hat, for both business and family. Notice I said ‘working on’, not ‘completing’. An on-going business, just like a family, is never actually a finished product. It will grow and change and evolve, priorities and tasks along with it. Just like juggling, keeping everything in motion requires that you regularly handle every single ball (task), even if it’s just for a short time.
Making a plan or schedule and sticking to it can really help you stay organized as well as dedicate specific time to personal, family and business matters. It’s much easier to balance your life when you can actually see it in front of you. It also reduces your anxiety and stress knowing that important tasks and events won’t be forgotten and that there IS enough time to fit everything in.
- Plan Daily/Weekly/Monthly/Annual tasks. Some things need more time than others. Some things need to be done more frequently than others. Figure out what works for your strengths and your business and your family and plan accordingly. Kids and employees alike really respond well when they can anticipate what’s coming up.
- Be Realistic. Set up for success by giving yourself the time it actually takes to do the task. Consider outsourcing personal or business tasks (bookkeeping, writing, groceries/meals, cleaning, etc.) if it makes sense.
- Be Disciplined. Stick to the schedule. If you plan an hour for a lunch meeting, keep it to an hour. If you set aside a day for the family, don’t bring home work. You have to respect your own time and trust your own schedule if you want it to work.
- Give yourself a break. Not just scheduled breaks (which are important), but mental ones as well. Don’t beat yourself up when you stray from the schedule. Things happen and unfold even with the most disciplined of entrepreneurs. Adjust accordingly and move on.
- Build in Catch-Up sessions. Make sure you include a daily or weekly block of time to tie up loose ends or account for unexpected adjustments. Just knowing that there will be time to finish something up later can help your business and your blood pressure.
- Review. Things change, including people and schedules. Things work for a while, then they don’t. It’s less stressful to simply recognize and accept when something isn’t working so that you can try something different.
It doesn’t matter what you start with, it just matters that you start. By no means am I a master of life balance either. I struggle with all the things above and am constantly trying to find a ‘just right’ formula. If you have any ideas or tips to add, I welcome and encourage you to comment below and share them.
That being said, it’s now time for me to ‘unplug’ and spend some scheduled time with family and friends. Thanks to my schedule, I can rest assured that my business won’t suffer while I enjoy the weekend and have some fun!
- Flexible Schedule Helps Keep New Moms in the Workplace (nlm.nih.gov)
- 10 Tips For Creating A Successful Family Calendar System (scrapsofmygeeklife.com)
- At Home Business Ideas (thinkup.waldenu.edu)
- Corporate Culture’s Impact on Planning and Strategy (brighthub.com)
- Rewarding staff without spending money (premierlinedirect.co.uk)
- Flexible Work Schedules Require a “Flexible” Office (blogs.cisco.com)