How do you go about balancing work and family when you’re a business owner who works unpredictable, long hours? When you’re running a business, your workday doesn’t always stick to the typical 9-to-5 schedule. But despite this, you still need to spend quality time with your family. Here are some ideas on how you can maintain a thriving business and a quality work-life balance.
Make Your Family Time Sacred
When you have a tendency to work around the clock, you’ll need to actually schedule the things that are most important, including your family. For example, if you have to travel for several days in a row for work, schedule your first day back home as a family day. Intuit.com recommends that you always keep your family commitments and don’t fall into the trap of letting them slide. Make your family commitments sacred. Did you promise to attend your child’s ballet or baseball game? Then do it. It’s unlikely your company will fall apart because you’re gone.
If necessary, you can always delegate work or appoint a trusted employee to hold down the fort. Make sure your delegate knows to only call you in the case of an absolute emergency. On your work calendar, block off the time you’ll be spending with your family so your employees know that you’ll be unavailable then. And encourage your employees to do the same for their family time—they may also have a hard time balancing work and family. If everyone is on the same page with the sacredness of family time, it’s easier to maintain this lifestyle.
Take Your Family on Work Trips
Sometimes you simply can’t escape the need for long, frequent work trips. But often, these trips don’t require all your time. If you’re on the road a lot, Inc.com suggests turning some of your work trips into family vacations. Stay an extra day or two so you and your family can enjoy the tourist side of your visit. But if you do this, make sure you create clear boundaries, so you devote yourself fully to both work and family. And make sure you only deduct your own expenses when it comes to tax time. In most situations, you can’t deduct the cost of taking your family with you.
To make these work/family vacations a reality, ensure there are plenty of things for your family to do while you’re working. Are there museums nearby or a pool at the hotel that your kids will like? If your kids are in school, you’ll have to schedule these trips around their vacations or on weekends. If the first part of your trip is especially intense, your family may need to join you just for the last day or two.
Find Creative Ways to Truly Be Present With Your Family
When you’re a business owner, it’s easy to rush from one responsibility to the next. This can also mean that you’re never truly present in a single moment. When you’re with your family, make sure you’re really with them. Put aside your phone so you can play with your children. During family time, try to limit clients’ access to you. If you have an assistant, let him or her field your calls. Don’t spend your family time brainstorming a solution to your next business problem. Enjoy every moment to its fullest.
Kevon Saber of Stealth told Inc.com that he has a “date” with his infant daughter where he reads her a book every morning and they dance to a song together. You can come up with similar ideas, depending on your situation. If you travel for work a lot, schedule a Skype call with your kids every day. Bring a stuffed animal and take photos of their toy at different locations on your trip.
If you can’t get home from work in time to tuck your kids in at bedtime, then take them out for a lunch date instead. You don’t have to have children of your own to still employ these techniques. Want to be the favorite uncle? Take your nephew out to eat twice a week. Spend a Saturday every month with your grandmother, helping her with things around the house. Whether you have children or an extended family, make the most of your time together.
Take Work-Life Breaks to Improve Business Productivity
Remember, quality time with your family won’t just help you and your loved ones, it will ultimately help your business, too. For example, a study by Workplace Trends on businesses that prioritize employees’ work-life balance found that flex programs increase productivity and satisfaction with work. No one can work 24 hours a day without burning out. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your family time is really family time. If you sometimes work from home, Intuit.com recommends having a separate office space that creates a mental separation between family and work.
There are many ways that you can maintain a work-life balance, even if you have to work long hours well into the night. Consider scheduling mini-dates with your children. Put your phone away and be fully present when you’re with your spouse. Delegate tasks so you can keep social commitments. These are just a few ideas on how you can balance family and work.
What ideas have you tried that worked for you? Let us know on Twitter.