Monday, 6 June 2016

How to maintain a work/life balance.

I've just returned from a fantastic week with my lovely little family in my favourite place ever, Croyde Bay, North Devon. 

We had a great time, we were so lucky with the weather and we had some real 'down time' as a family.

<< < My kids Ella (7) and Jack (2) enjoying the lovely sunshine outside our trailer tent.

We go to Croyde several times a year and I always make sure that, whilst I am there, I am with my family 100% and not at work. 

I think that is SO important and a decision I made very early on in my business. In fact, it was one of the main drivers for setting up on my own so I could maintain a work/life balance.

I love my business but I also love my family so it is important to me that I give them both equal amounts of attention. This can be a tough balancing act BUT it is more than achievable and i'm going to share a few of my tips on how you manage it!

1/ Plan, plan, plan, plan, plan! You cannot possibly start to fit your work and life commitments into one day, one week, one month without knowing EXACTLY what you need to get done. I always begin my listing everything which needs to be done (work commitments and family commitments) and then assign those tasks with how long each task will take. You are then in a position to break that down and plot those tasks into your planner. I literally plan by the hour. Everything from food shops and school runs to any client stuff which needs. Once this is all in front of you in black and white you can make sure you have the right amount of time for each task. Personally I just pop the tasks into an excel spreadsheet by the hour but there are loads of apps which can help with this too.

2/ Do not over commit. The temptation is always there to take on more work. Whether you work for yourself or for a business there will always be the temptation to do more work. More work inevitably means more money. Don't get me wrong. More money is marvelous but not if it throws your work/life balance off. 

3/ Use a time tracker - I always track my time using Toggl for all my accounts. It helps me understand where my time goes and whether I am allocating adequate time for tasks when I do my initial planning. It also helps understand whether you are quoting for a job correctly once you know how long these jobs actually take. 

4/ Build downtime in- You cannot maintain a work/ life balance if you are maxed out and stressed to the hilt. You really need to find a way to unwind so you feel ready to face whatever your day (whether that is work or family) has to throw at you. Some people like a bath, some go for a run, some read a book. I like to exercise and I like to sit down with my husband and watch an hour of TV. Everyone is different but I make sure I build those little things in to my day so I feel like i've wound down.

5/ Try and fix your hours - It really helps to know when your working day starts and ends. Especially if you have young children. Having a clear cut off means you can turn your attention from work to your family. Being able to do this comes down to point 1 - Plan, plan, plan, If you have planned your hours your work should be done!

6/ Do a time audit - Is there anything sapping your energy? Is there something you dread having to find the time to do every single week? Take the time to do a little audit. 

  • I hated having to do the washing up four billion times a day. I bought a dishwasher which cut that time down and made me happier (it's the little things!) 
  • I also had clients who's accounts were taking FOREVER but not paying anywhere near enough. I had to address this and get this sorted. 
  • I was going out at 1pm to get my son (as he napped in the afternoons so I could work) every day and going back out at 3pm for the school run. This was counter productive so I changed my sons hours till 3 so I now do one trip. Such a little thing has made a massive difference to my day. 
  • I was giving time up for PTA tasks because I felt I should even though I had no time available. I spoke to the chairperson and asked to be responsible for one task every three months instead of the ad-hoc volunteering. That way I could build the task into my plan. I was still helping but there was more structure to my helping. Really take a look at how productive you're being with your time. It'll help!

7/ Get some sleep. Poor sleep means poor productivity. If you are tired you are not going to be as focused or productive as you can be. Try and ensure you get sleep and some early nights where you can.

8/ Outsource! If you are thinking 'okay i've read all this and there are still not enough hours in the day for me to fit everything in' why not look at outsourcing some of your tasks. Whether you need a PA or concierge to take some of your day to day household tasks off you or someone to take on your pile of admin we will be able to help, Why not check out our services.

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