I dedicate this article to my dog Rupert, for clumsily pointing out that I occasionally need to shift my work life balance to focus on the important things in my life.
Last week, and in fact for the last three years, my weekdays have looked something like this:
6.30am: Alarm. Reach for iPhone and check emails. Have an argument with my husband after he tells me not to check my phone in bed.
6.40am: Get up and take Rupert to the park. I just like to walk, but my husband feels that we should do push-ups and sit-ups along the way, “To really get the most out of the session”. I just want to walk. Another mini-argument.
7.10am: Home for muesli, a quick scan of the papers and shower.
8.30am: Arrive at work. Coffee and chat with girls about what we all did last night, what our husbands got up to and whether the kids slept or not. Everyone gets woken up by a restless child at least once a night. We laugh.
9.00am – 6.30pm: Work – Meeting – Phone – Work – Lunch – Meeting – Phone – Work.
7.00pm: Home in time for 7 o’clock news and (thank heavens!) wine.
7.30pm: Dinner made by husband, who despite the early morning arguments, I love to bits and am grateful for every day.
8.00pm: Open laptop and start working. Again. This time on my own business.
Phew. I’m 29 years old and dedicating a minimum of 260 days each year to work, and not to the other crucial things in my life, like my marriage. Whoops.
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This will be no surprise to many of you, but running a small business is not for the faint hearted. It’s stressful, exhausting, frustrating and all consuming. And sometimes you just forget to stop and take stock of where you’re at and what you’re spending your days doing.
I’m on the small business treadmill: a heady mix of adrenalin, rejection, freedom, anxiety and elation.
Or I was, until last week, when Rupert abruptly decided that each time I tried to open my laptop at home, he would clumsily lope over to me and place his wet, sticky snout on the keyboard, not moving until I stroked his cute, furry head. Every time I tried to move his head, he’d put it back, smack bang in the middle of the keyboard, *obviously* trying to delete whatever I was working on, and depositing slobber at the same time.
As I looked down at my gorgeous dog’s head it dawned on me: I hadn’t seen Rupert or my husband, all day. Yet I was at home with them (finally), and what was I doing? Typing.
Wasn’t it my goal all day to get through everything so I could get home to them and relax?
I started thinking some more.
When was the last time I got home and didn’t pick up my iPhone to check for emails every half hour, text someone from work about something, bore my husband with work chatter, or ignore a conversation because I was thinking about something that happened during the day. The answer is that I can’t remember!
So, I started keeping a weekday journal. On average I was allocating 13 hours to work, 7.5 hours to sleep, 1.5 hours to food, one hour to news, and 40 minutes to arguments… that leaves 20 minutes for nurturing my relationships, doing something nice for myself or stopping to do nothing at all.
Shock! I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to realise what I was doing every day, or more importantly, what I wasn’t doing. Things have to change. If my personal life isn’t in order, how am I supposed to be running a business?
So, Rupert, from this day forward, I promise to:
- Take you to your favourite park at least once a day for a run.
- Make sure I’m home by 6.30 to cook for my husband at least two nights a week
- Have two computer-free nights at home each week
- Go out to dinner with my husband/family/friends (without my phone) at least once a week
- Spend more time on my relationships than with my laptop.
Do you need to make a similar commitment to ensure work life balance? ‘Fess up below.