Feeling the constant pull of competing priorities can be a daily struggle for soloists. But with a little planning and prioritising, the work/family juggle can be much easier.
Here are five tips to help you find greater work/family balance and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Work out what balance means to you
Firstly, define what work/life balance means to you. Think of it more as work/life scheduling, figuring out what is most important and making time for it in your schedule, on your terms, without the added pressure of making sure everything is perfectly balanced.
After all, when your business is based on a passion you live and breathe, it’s not as though you can turn it on at 9am and off at 5pm. Running a business tends to be a 24/7 gig, at least in thoughts and passion, and the same goes for family.
To find your balance, make a list of your priorities and the allocation of time you want and need to give to each of them. Not only will this exercise give you more clarity on your priorities, it will also give you a tangible measurement to monitor how balanced your schedule is.
Say “yes” and “no” equally in both your work and family roles
It’s important to keep your priorities at the forefront of your mind and be honest with yourself in how each of your decisions will impact your family and your business.
To help you stay true to your priorities, monitor the amount of times you say “yes” and “no” in each of your roles. Is there are role you are always saying yes to and a role you are mostly saying no in?
Remember that every “yes” you say means a “no” somewhere else, so make sure you are saying yes and no equally across all roles.
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Set clear work rules
Establish clear rules around your work time so your family knows your boundaries. Communicate when you are doing low-concentration work that can be interrupted, and high-concentration work that can’t be interrupted. Often a little communication can go a long way in creating a productive work routine. Having regular breaks and family time can also help your family respond better to you work schedule.
Understand sometimes you’ll be seen as “choosing” one role over the other
This is perhaps the hardest part of the balance – accepting that sometimes your family will feel that when you are working you are choosing work over them. In your eyes it may not be the case, or the intention; from your perspective, you’re simply getting things done. Though to them, you’re working and not spending that time with them.
Dealing with this effectively requires open communication with your family and often negotiation as to when you work and when you spend time with them. It is important that they feel listened to and that you try to work out an arrangement that is fair to both your roles.
When it’s family time, make it quality time. Close the door on work, no matter how crazy it is, and just be with your family. This quality one-on-one time will help them see that they are an important priority regardless of how busy you are.
Likewise, have set work times that suit your schedule and be present in them too. Honour the work commitments you make, take pride in your work and allow yourself to enjoy what you do.
For work/family balance to really happen you need to keep some boundaries impenetrable, especially when they are guarding your big priorities.
What are your tips for juggling work and family?