Business can be stressful and crazy at the best of times. Add babies, toddlers and kids, and it can become utter chaos.
So how do you service clients, meet deadlines and stay sane as you balance family and business?
1. Set realistic goals
As a parent in business you have to play multiple roles. You’re the general manager of the family, your household and a business, not to mention the sub-roles you take on in your work.
With this in mind you need to be realistic with what you can achieve each day. There will be days when you don’t get everything done. But there will be other days when you are amazed at what you have accomplished. The key is to become good at prioritising.
Before you start any work, make a list of your tasks, separating the urgent jobs from those less pressing. When you are prioritising ask yourself, “What will make the biggest difference to my bottom line?” and “Are there any tasks taking up my time that I could outsource to someone else?”
Following this, allocate yourself three to five core tasks each day and keep the rest in a task list entitled, ‘Would be nice to get done today’.
2. Separate family and business time
No doubt you’ve experienced the pull of competing priorities. The key to managing these is to have set times for each role.
Schedule specific hours for playing and bonding with your kids, spending time with your partner, having ‘me’ time, working and keeping house. Not only will you feel more at ease, you will also be able to give your full attention to each area during the allocated time slot.
It won’t always work out the way you plan, but your schedule will keep you mindful of where you need to make up time later.
3. Incorporate ‘time buffers’
Unexpected daily events happen all the time. From clients running late, traffic and meetings running overtime to shortened deadlines and sick or fussy kids. By building little gaps of time into your schedule you cater for these unforeseen daily events.
When planning your day, leave one hour open to address anything unexpected. With meetings and conference calls, add half an hour to the estimated duration in case the person runs late or it goes overtime.
Most importantly, add time to deadlines you set – just in case something happens and you need the extra time. Better to tell your clients it will take longer and deliver on time or before than miss the deadline and potentially lose their business.
4. Make your work portable
You won’t always get the kids to be happy and sit still in the office and, depending on what you do, you may not want them with you at all. For these reasons, it helps if your work is portable.
A laptop, smartphone and wireless internet are must-have tools that will enable you to do your work in the backyard, or even at the park or play centre if you need to.
5. Make time for you
Making time for you is vital for your own productivity, sanity and sometimes the sanity of everyone else. Your family and your clients deserve the best version of you and the only way they will get that is if you look after yourself.
Be sure to schedule some ‘me’ time into your day – after everyone is asleep, before everyone wakes up or during naptime. You’ll come up with better ideas and be ready to handle whatever life has in store.
Do you have any tips for balancing family and business?