Managing Your Work – Work Balance

Many companies now use their focus on work-life balance as a marketing tool to attract talented employees and keep existing ones. They try hard to offer incentives in the form of extra days off, fun family activities, and flexible schedules to show their employees that they care about the “other” life you have a home as well as your ability to be productive at work. All these things are great, but what about those of us that are trying to start our own business as well as work a full-time job? Well, the short answer is that something will have to give but the real trick is to understand what (and when) that something is.

One of the reasons that people suggest keeping your day job while you try to build your business is because it provides you the financial security you need to be able to withstand the non-profitable startup years of building a company. Plus, if your idea just flat out bombs then you haven’t put you (or your family) into a rough financial position since you still have your primary income source. However, what you give up by doing this is almost all of your free time. Basically you’ll spend the majority of your week working at your job (40-60 hours a week probably), and whatever is left over you’ll probably use to build your business. It can be a rough time for you and your family, and one of the main reasons why people say to make sure that you’re family is a part of the decision to pursue starting a business. For you, you’ll basically be working even when you’re not “at work” and for your family it means less personal time to spend with them. So what should you do?

The first thing you have to do is continue to perform at your day job. Your job is your primary income and the source of stability and security for your family. Now, if you decide not to be the ultra-ambitious worker that you used to be since your interests have changed, that’s okay. But at the very least you should be putting a solid effort in at your day job to keep your career on track in case your business ideas never really take off. When it comes to family financial security, I think that always has to come first and our personal desires second. Next, make sure that you’re making smart decisions with balancing your personal time between your family and your business. When building your business ideas, make sure you focus on a few at a time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself. If you’re on a strict schedule, decide to do some work in advance so that you can have a couple days off from your business every once in a while. That way you’re still working towards your goal, but you provide yourself a little flexibility in your scheduling.

Hopefully, your business interests are doing something that you enjoy, as this will at least make that work feel less like “work.” But you still have to take in account the time to spend with your family. One way to achieve this is to get them involved into your business efforts if at all possible. In work (as in life) we have to recognize opportunities to consolidate things, and if you can make your business interests into something fun that your family can share, then you get the best of both worlds. If you’re not able to easily do that, don’t worry. It just means that you have to be better at organizing your time more efficiently, and be willing to take a break from things that are less important than family. At the end of the day, family should be more important than all the rest. We make them bend to our needs and be more flexible since they will, but we have to remember to reward that flexibility by spending quality time in return.