We’re excited to wrap up the year by talking about one of our core company values; managing work-life balance. PJS & Co. CPAs was born out of a desire to improve the balance of professional and personal life. We knew there had to be a better way for our team and clients to integrate personal and professional goals. There are ways to integrate your personal priorities into your business growth plans if you have clear priorities and consistently stay mindful of managing work-life balance.
What we cover in this episode:
- 00:30 – Introduction
- 05:29 – Identify your purpose and priorities
- 10:14 – Managing work-life balance isn’t about perfection
- 14:57 – Caveats of work-life balance
- 21:25 – Honor your commitments
- 24:33 – Scheduling buffers and managing transitions
- 30:28 – Setting and respecting boundaries
When it comes to work, family, personal lives, hobbies, who wouldn’t want it all? There is no perfect solution for balancing home-life and work, but we continue to remain forward-thinking and respect the fact that everyone has different priorities. Today we want to share with you some things we’ve learned on our journey to achieve an effective balance. We don’t want your work owning your life. We don’t want you missing out on important family time. We don’t want you neglecting your health. We want what’s best for you! To end 2020 with a bang, let’s focus on how you can live a whole, complete, and happy life.
Identify your purpose and priorities
When we consult with anyone, the first thing we recommend is identifying your purpose and priorities. You have to identify what is important to you. When we talk about purpose, this differs from the vision or mission of your company and is more internal and personal. You have to establish your personal purpose and personal priorities in order to build your business and growth plan to incorporate those things.
PJS & Co. CPAs partner Jami Johnson shared that one of her priorities is to take her kids to school and pick them up every day. Owning a successful business and being there for her family are two main priorities in her life. Those are no small tasks. It takes hard work, giving everything you have, to run a small business AND be there for your families. But, the reward is worth the work! For Jami, sometimes those school drop offs and pick ups mean she’s up at 4:00 am, or burning the midnight oil after the kids are asleep, getting work done. In order to get the best of both worlds with your career and your family, there is give and take, which is easier to digest when the things you are balancing are the things that fulfill you. Once you determine what is most important to you and understand what fulfills you, you’re on the right track and can start to integrate them.
Managing work-life balance isn’t about perfection
Reality check. If you think of work-life balance as a 24/7 party, sipping a cocktail on the beach, while working on your laptop in a lounge chair, you need to snap out of that dream. Work-life balance is more about reprioritizing your life, your work, and doing what you can to gain flexibility. We started with identifying our purpose and what is truly fulfilling because once we know that, we can determine the areas of give and take. Jami reflected on her time in corporate America and told us how there is no amount of money that is worth all the things she would have missed out on with her family if she would have stayed in that job. “Maybe we’d have a nicer house. Maybe we would have stuff. But, I now have time with my kids that I will never get back.”
You have to be forward-thinking and understand the short-term sacrifice is for the long-term gain. We live in a world where we are always connected and sometimes that means work priorities can reach you at all times. It can be difficult to ignore an urgent email or a text when you are at the park with your kids or at dinner with your family. The work priority slaps you in the face, and it’s easy to think “I’ll just handle this really quickly.” The next thing you know, you’re an hour into work, food is cold, and your kids are heading to bed. Making decisions on what is priority at the moment can be difficult. Take time to reflect before you take action. Sometimes work needs immediate action and that may mean your child gets a little more iPad time than you’d like. Other times, that means you’ll get back to a client the next morning.
Don’t get overwhelmed worrying about what you should do and how you should do it. Step back, determine what’s best for you in that moment, and take action. Sometimes our feelings of guilt and our overwhelming sense of obligation are self-imposed. This is another reason we emphasize the importance of reflecting before making decisions. We aren’t advising you to ignore your obligations. We are saying weigh your options and take action based on what is best at the time. Some decisions are more difficult than others, especially when others involved don’t understand your perspective. Let what is best for you and your family be the driver and be okay with the fact that others may not be on the same page.
Caveats of work-life balance
Once you’ve taken that time to reflect and establish your priorities, what they mean to you, and what the ideal work-life balance looks like, it’s time to implement work-life balance in your day. To do that, we need to first address the elephant in the room. There are only 24 hours in a day. Everyone has the same amount of time, but everyone’s 24 hours looks different. Unlike some celebrities, we don’t have personal chefs, au pairs, or unlimited resources to delegate responsibilities. If you do, that’s wonderful, and we are probably jealous. Regardless of how you operate your home, family, and job, everyone only has 24 hours each day to get it all done.
Everyone has different thresholds. Be mindful of those thresholds and when you are approaching them. There will be days where you think you’ll get everything accomplished and the day just won’t go as planned. When that happens, do your best to be flexible and rearrange your responsibilities to meet the demands of your day. Recognize that each day will be different.
Honor your commitments
There will be days where you approached your threshold, but you’ve got a deadline to meet. When this happens, do what you can to honor your commitment. Communication is key in working with your deadlines and letting others know if there is a chance you might not meet an established deadline. In business, trust is extremely important. You want people to know when you say you will do something, they know you will follow through on that promise.
One way you can improve your chances of honoring your commitments is to “under promise and over-deliver.” For example, if you have a task you think you can complete by Wednesday, set a deadline of Friday. This way, if you deliver the product on Wednesday, the other party is pleasantly surprised. If the task takes longer than you expected, you have a bit of time to work and still meet the deadline. When establishing deadlines, it’s good to be optimistic but always keep in mind there are outside factors that may unexpectedly impede your progress. One way to plan for the unexpected is to give yourself a bit of a buffer with your deadline.
Scheduling buffers and managing transitions
In addition to buffers associated with deadlines, buffers are also nice to have in your day-to-day routine. One tool we use to create those daily buffers in our schedule is our calendar. Each of our clients and vendors are important and we want to give everyone the respect and attention they deserve. That’s why we try to set aside at least 15 minutes on our calendars between meetings. A buffer like this gives time to wrap up one meeting, and prepare for the next. We all know some meetings can run longer as well and this can decrease the stress of having to reschedule.
We should also note that buffers can serve as transitions from one type of work to the next or from work to home, etc. For example, some meetings may involve very intense conversations. It can be very helpful to have a few minutes to wind down, take a breath, take follow-up notes, etc. after each phone call or meeting. Plus, if it’s on the calendar, you are more likely to dedicate that time. If you don’t have a buffer to help you transition smoothly from what task or meeting to the next, that can be a recipe for disaster. Currently, many of us are juggling our careers while being responsible for teaching our kids at home. Transitions from working (answering emails, making business decisions, etc.) to being a teacher, parent, husband and wife can be more helpful with a buffer. If you’re looking for more tips on productivity, we share some great tips in episode #17.
Setting and respecting boundaries
Setting boundaries will help you keep your personal and business life separate. Respecting your own boundaries isn’t always easy. This is going to be a practice that some business owners may have to consistently work on in order to maintain balance. One way to be intentional about working and intentional about your time with your family is to have the right space when doing each task. What we mean by this is to have a home office or specific desk or table that is designated for work, for example. Laptops are great because we can easily work anywhere. But, this can be a blessing and a curse. If your internet at home goes out, you can pop over to a Starbucks for some free wi-fi. On the other hand, you may find yourself on your living room couch working while you are supposed to be enjoying a movie with your family. Another way is to turn off notifications on your phone and put your phone down.
Managing work-life balance isn’t an easy task. Our lives demand so much from every aspect that it can easily feel like you’re being torn in many different directions. This can cause stress, anxiety and can lead to missed deadlines, overwhelm and ultimately can impact your life in many ways. We began our conversation about work-life balance with determining your purpose and establishing your personal priorities. Once you are clear on those things, you can begin to integrate those with business growth goals and other professional goals. It’s important to look at your personal and professional goals together and list out your priorities so you may marry them for a comprehensive and more complete plan that works for you.
We then discussed some ways to manage work-life balance effectively by leveraging your calendar, setting boundaries, honoring your commitments and managing transitions. If you’re looking for more information on how to better manage your work-life balance, reach out to speak with one of our vCFOs for a business growth plan that makes sense for you.