Managing your family can feel like a second full-time job on top of what you are doing at the office, so how can you prioritize one over the other? You need your business to succeed professionally and financially, but your family is your world.
We asked some of our favorite business gurus what they wished they’d been told when they were first starting to learn how to manage this delicate balance of work life and home life. Whether you’re an intern, manager, or CEO; these ideas should help you in your mission to balance business and family life.
Create a flexible routine
Let’s face it, there are multiple times per week that life happens and your schedule has to be reworked. By not cramming every minute with something, you’re still able to make all of your meetings and family events.
“I think it can be tempting to schedule down to the minute when you’re trying to control the balance between your work and family life,” says Marcus Hutsen, Business Development Manager of Patriot Coolers. “But if you leave some extra time in your schedule, you can move things around if you have to go pick up a sick kid from school or make it to an emergency business meeting.”
“I like to have ‘bonus projects’ that I leave hanging in my schedule,” says Miles Beckett, CEO and Co-founder of Flossy. “If I get to them during the week without sacrificing family time, awesome. If I can’t finish them because I’m needed at home or something else comes up with the business, that’s also okay. My main projects have plenty of time to be wrapped up and I finish the week off successfully either way.”
Set Realistic Expectations
It can be tempting to say you’ll never miss your kids soccer game or that your family won’t interfere with your quarterly project, but in reality these expectations may not be realistic. Setting realistic expectations doesn’t mean that you don’t try to make it to all of the important things on both sides. Instead, make sure you’re not too hard on yourself if there are times you can’t.
“If you’re a small business owner or traveling often for business, there’s a high chance that things are going to conflict with your family’s schedule,” says Jim Marggraff, CEO of Kinoo. “Setting realistic expectations and not ultimatums where both parties expect you to be available for all important events can put you on a path that leaves less people frustrated.”
“Family life and business life can feel like two separate worlds, but they’re extremely intertwined in the time you have available,” says Rachel Blank, Founder and CEO of Allara. “Since you can’t change the fact that there are only so many hours in a week, it’s best to let everyone know the goals for your time.”
It seems like every part of the business process can be brought back to communication in some way. Balancing your work and family life is no different. It’s critical that important life and business events are put in a place of priority on both schedules.
“Having good communication with your business partners and your family can help alleviate stress about how scheduling might work,” says Phillip Montalvo, Director of Marketing at Azuna. “It lessens disappointment if something has to be missed, rescheduled, or canceled and shows your initiative to include them in the planning process.”
“Clearly communicating priorities and schedule conflicts to your staff and partners as well as your family can prevent hard feelings and frustration all around,” says Michael Van, CEO of Furnishr. “Plus, multiple heads are better than one and there might be an alternate solution that you haven’t thought of that would allow for conflicting events in your schedule to be rearranged.”
It can be tempting to keep in touch with your work during family time and your family’s lives while on the clock, but setting defined boundaries prevents both from feeling cheated out of your precious time that’s already being spread over some pretty large areas. Figure out a method of defining your time and boundaries for work and family time.
“It can be hard to unplug from one ‘life’ to start another,” says Ari Evans, CEO of Maestro. “Some of us go as far as having separate devices to use during work and family time so you’re not fielding calls or emails while trying to enjoy a movie night with your family or getting sucked into a family conversation during work hours. It doesn’t have to be that drastic, but having boundaries – especially on electronic devices – can be a big part of successfully balancing work and family life.”
“Establishing when you’re ‘off the clock’ from both family and business life – with the exception of emergencies from either- can help everyone involved understand what to expect,” says Vincent R. Chan, Chief Financial Officer of Christina. “It seems like a lot of the unhappiness that we hear about with people who struggle to balance business and family comes from people not understanding when to expect your undivided attention or assistance.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
Nobody expects you to be a superhero who can save the day in both your business and family worlds at the drop of a hat. Know who and when to ask for help if a challenging situation emerges. This might be difficult, especially if you pride yourself on independence and self-management, but knowing when help is needed can be how you support your family and business.
“You’re no good to your family or business if you’re stressed,” says Katy Carrigan, Chief Revenue Officer of Goody. “Learning to trust other people in your life to help when you need them is a big part of balancing your business and family at the same time.”
“Sometimes it takes a village (or two) to support a family and run a business,” says Ray Leon, CEO of Pet Insurance Review. “Know your village and learn to ask for help with humility. They want to help you and make sure you succeed. Let them be the support system they can be. This means you might have to take a risk and trust some coworkers with more advanced projects or learn to accept that you might have to pay a babysitter a few afternoons per week so you can prevent work from coming home with you.”
In conclusion, balancing work and family life is going to look different in every situation, but our experts had some great ideas. It sounds like communication, boundaries, and learning to trust others are big components of having a successful work-family balance.
Of course, you might run into situations where sacrifice will have to be made. In these scenarios you have to do what has to be done, but by taking all of these tips and tricks to heart, hopefully that won’t be something that has to happen often and both of your ‘worlds’ will be understanding of the choices you have to make.