For many soloists, being able to combine work and family is a big drawcard. But just how do you do it? Here’s my advice.
When I was in the corporate world, I would often sit down with my team and discuss what we needed to achieve that week. When I became a soloist, I had a new team – my family, and for the business to succeed my family had to be integral to everything that I did. I realised too after years of keeping my work life and private life separate, that would have to change.
Balancing the demands of your own business with everyday life demands such as being an effective parent or partner is not always easy. But it can be done.
It’s about the choices we make, understanding what we want to achieve, prioritising and working productively.
Here are a few things we do to integrate our family into our business.
Each Sunday after dinner we sit down as a family. We look at the calendar, and discuss what we have on the following week. I then look at what I need to achieve at work and write these down too.
This exercise allows us all to understand what the following week entails both as a family but importantly as a business. It also allows us to delegate responsibility to our older children – for instance if I am going away for work on a particular day my children know they will have to help more at home.
By communicating work plans in this fashion it reduces resentment and surprises with both my wife and children.
Identify big push days
Big push days are scheduled into the calendar. These are days where I know I will be starting early and finishing late. While they don’t always occur on day scheduled, as often other things do crop up, their presence is acknowledged in the calendar for that week.
Big push days allow me to really focus on completing a number of tasks on hand and are essential in the success of our business.
Make your kids part of the team
If like me you have children and also run your own business it’s really important to make them part of your team. I don’t mean I send my children to school and ask them to sell a mattress to their teacher or friends..I may drop the hint that for every sale they generate I’ll give them $10….! What I mean is that we sat our older children down at the earliest opportunity and we talked to them about the business. We told them what it means to us as a family, and what it means to them.
It’s our own family mission statement.
They understand how fortunate they are that both parents can often attend most school functions together yet it also means that I have to work 7 days a week every day of the year and we can’t take as many holidays as their friends.
We have taught our children from an early age that when my telephone rings they know it’s most probably a work sales call and that they have to be quiet. It’s amazing even my one year old twins immediately stop what they’re doing, and often now stop making a noise when my phone rings.
Of course it doesn’t work every time but by setting real life expectations from an early age, it can be achieved. It also teaches our children responsibility and to play independently at this time. Sometimes we actually ring my phone from the landline just to quieten things down a little!
Also on weekends I often take my children with me to meet customers who wish to visit our showroom and try one of mattresses. They enjoy the opportunity to come to work and meet a customer. It teaches them to interact with adults, how to introduce themselves and be polite. Our customers generally like it too as children break down barriers and provide an easy talking point.
We have systems at home just like we have in the office to increase productivity. For example picking up our children’s dirty clothes was wasting our time when we could be leaving the house for work a few minutes early. So we introduced two baskets for laundry, one for colours and one for white and we taught our children which baskets to put their washing in. We’re not overly strict in our approach; we actually made it fun allowing them to throw their laundry in to each basket from a distance. We have similar systems for putting the shopping away, or sweeping up after breakfast.
We find that this saves time each morning, or evening so we can focus on the business.
Stopping the glorification of being busy
I have written before how I think being ‘too busy’ is a sign we’re prioritising too many things and maxing out our available time in an ineffective manner.
Being too busy does not mean we’re happy or that we are better than anyone else, or that we’re more productive. In fact, sometimes it can mean quite the opposite. So that’s why we make the effort to prioritise and focus on the tasks that really add value to our business.
I think it’s really important to create some white space in your life each and every day – a time when you can do something just for you. It doesn’t have to be for hours, 20 minutes is often enough. Whether that’s going to the gym, walking around your garden or taking a bath, it is really important to do something that grounds you and prevents you from spiralling out of control. It’s equally important to create white space with your family – take time from your business and spend it just with your family. It’s not always easy but it’s incredibly worthwhile.
I am not saying we’re a super family or we’re better parents than anyone else. I’m not saying that at all. What I am saying is that it’s possible to integrate your family into your business so that both run harmoniously together.
What do you do to integrate your family into your business?