With parenting on our minds this month (Father's Day was just a few days ago), I’ve been thinking a lot about how I manage the balance between raising my kids with my husband (who also happens to be my business partner) and running my business filing company.
From the outside, it might seem to be a breeze for me, but believe me: I’ve set up rules and processes to make sure both components of my life get the attention they need to thrive. It might sound mechanical, but trust me: having rules like this in place will help you find better balance, too.
Rule #1: Only One Can Be On Top at a Time
I can’t give my business my all if I’m at the office thinking about my kids. Likewise, I can’t give my kids 100 percent of my attention if a problem at work is nagging me. So I have to choose. During office hours, I compartmentalize the parenting part of my life and save it for later so I can focus on being the best CEO I can be. Come 5 o’clock, I switch hats and work on being the best mom possible.
Rule #2: Sometimes You Must Focus on Neither One for Your Sanity
I’m a big proponent of the whole “you can’t take care of anyone else if you don’t take care of yourself first” concept. But I wasn’t always like that. In fact, I had a panic attack that changed everything. I realized I was running myself ragged worrying about a business problem. I had to learn to let go, de-stress, and take care of me so that I could do my other jobs better.
Taking care of you could mean leaving the office early on Friday one day. Or getting a massage. Taking a nice, long bath. Going for a walk. Whatever your go-to is to recharge your battery, make sure that’s part of your routine so that you’ll have better balance in all aspects of your life.
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Rule #3: Do One Thing at a Time
I want you to forget everything you’ve ever heard about how multitasking makes you smarter. It doesn’t. Instead, it makes you feel harried, and you end up doing five tasks really badly. Not only should you do only one thing at a time, but you should also think one thing at a time. Trust me, I know how hard this one is. But if you put all your energies into one action or thought, you’ll finish the task sooner and better.
Rule #4: Be Flexible in Your Schedule
For so many people, 8 to 5 is the normal workday. But it doesn’t have to be for you, especially if working the “norm” means you’ll miss out on valuable moments with your family. Get up early and spend an hour or two checking your email and getting set up for the day so that you can take your kids to school. Or sneak in a few hours of work after their bedtime. That way, you can maximize your time with your family. If you’re like me, that’s one of the reasons you became an entrepreneur in the first place: to have more time with the ones you love.
Rule #5: Get Out of the Office
I don’t buy the idea that some entrepreneurs are simply too busy to take a vacation. If you set up your systems so that your staff can take over for you (or you clear your plate of work for a few days or weeks), no one will begrudge you taking much-deserved time off. No one.
Managing this balancing act isn’t easy for anyone, but if you figure out what rules you need to thrive, it’s absolutely possible.
About Nellie Akalp
Nellie Akalp is a serial entrepreneur and small business expert. She currently serves as the CEO of CorpNet.com, an online legal document filing service, where she helps entrepreneurs start a business,incorporate, form an LLC, and offers free business compliance tools. Connect with Nellie on Google+.