With entrepreneurship comes sacrifice. You often find yourself at a fork in the road, faced with the tough decision of spending time on your business or with your family. Maybe you would like to put your family first, but pulling yourself away from work is easier said than done. The lure of “just five more minutes” can turn into hours as you try to hash out a problem. Ultimately, there’s only 24 hours in a day, and time spent at work is time away from family.
A survey by Bank of America showed that half of men and 37 percent of women reported spending less time with their children because of their business. What can you do the next time you’re at another fork in the road, struggling to choose between family and business? Put simply, it doesn’t need to be a struggle. Business owners just need to learn how to delegate tasks, set firm limits and be as flexible as they can without sacrificing family life.
When we talk about knowing our priorities, we don’t simply mean prioritizing either business or family and leaving it at that. Instead, become aware of your top daily and project priorities. Ask yourself each morning, “What is it that I want to accomplish today, or even just in the next few hours?”
When you practice this, you find that various scenarios require you to prioritize different things. For example, attending a celebratory family dinner or your child’s music recital might be a top priority one day. The next day, you may have several business meetings to move ahead on projects.
Having a plan that aligns with your top priorities is the way to create balance and ensure neither your family nor your business gets neglected. Additionally, having an agenda helps your employees understand their purpose. It fosters an environment where business goals can be achieved as quickly as possible and without wasted time.
“It is better to perform one’s own duties imperfectly than to master the duties of another.” —Bhagavad Gita
As a business owner, you may suffer from the all-too-common inability to say “no.” You might feel like your capacity to give time to others is bottomless, but remember: There are only 24 hours in a day. Think of it as a balancing scale. If you give time to others, you lose time for yourself. If you use time to help employees with a task, your priority should be to empower and teach them. This creates independence and gives them the ability to complete the task alone in the future.
“Why am I spending time on this?” This is a critical question when creating boundaries, but it can be challenging to really be honest at first. You need firm self-discipline to guide you. For example, are you willing to delete email apps from your phone so you can’t get caught up before bed?
Some business owners have a tough time admitting when their plate is overfilled, and some even get addicted to doing — working continuously on autopilot. The problem with overdoing is that it becomes easy to stray from your priorities and get tangled in meaningless side tasks. Start moving away from this habit by creating boundaries, and do the work that is your’s, not someone else’s.
Modern technology offers business owners a glorious opportunity to assist with work-life balance — automation. If very few of your business operations are automated, set aside time to look into automating as much as possible. There is little value in redoing mundane tasks each day, so find out how you can automate them.
If you’re just getting started with automation, some of the heftiest time-killers to tackle are social media, digital marketing and sales. There are a plethora of digital tools to choose from in these areas. One in four Fortune 500 companies reported using automation for marketing. According to a Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study, 63 percent of companies that were actively expanding past their competitors used marketing automation. Another study by Gleanster revealed that “79% of top-performing companies have been using marketing automation for more than 2 years.”
Many minor tasks can be automated. Tiny introductions of automation can make a world of difference, saving you both time and stress. For example, you could set the coffee pot to start on its own each morning, schedule computer updates to run while you’re at lunch and so on.
If you’ve been tipping the scale too far in one direction and are unable to give adequate time to your family, don’t beat yourself up. You are not evil or careless for falling into the ever-present workaholic trap, especially as an entrepreneur. Rather than berating yourself, remember the true reasons you decided to start a business. Did those reasons include spending more time with family or having more freedom to do what you love?
You put everything into your business, not just for your own sake but for the well-being of your family too. By knowing your priorities, setting boundaries and leaning on automation tools, you can begin to experience the work-life balance you deserve.
To learn more about how to manage your time better, download our free whitepaper: Maintain Your Balance.