Committed to Achieving Work/Life Balance

I was sitting at the kitchen table yesterday with my sister-in-law talking about balancing work and family. She works part-time, is back in college at the tender age of 51, has two college-aged children, and is married to my brother (a job in itself!) I’ve run a transcription and translation business for the last 23 years, have a husband, two girls, six cats and two dogs. Whew, I get tired even thinking about it! It did get me thinking, though, what do I do to achieve balance in my work and home life?

First Priority: Take Care of Your Health
My first priority is taking care of my health. If you allow yourself to get rundown, poor health can have a detrimental affect on all other aspects of your work and family life. I’m a morning person, so I get up at least an hour before everybody else starts rolling out of their beds in the morning. This gives me time to have some quiet time, eat breakfast (the most important meal of the day), and get ready to do my exercises. Once my youngest daughter is picked up by the school bus, I’m off to the gym for some aerobics and weight training.

Second Priority: Maintain Boundaries
The next thing I try to do – and believe me, all of this is a constant work in progress – is I maintain boundaries. Even though I run my business out of my home, I’ve made sure I’ve dedicated a place just for work. When I first started my business, many moons ago, I had my office desk and PC in my bedroom. What a BAD move – I woke up in the morning, saw my computer and immediately sat down at my desk and started working – before breakfast, before showering or even brushing my teeth. Then, later in the evening, I would always seem to drift back to my desk “for just an hour or so” to get in a little work before going to bed. Trust me; the glow of the PC does not look like the soft glow a candle.

Third Priority: Stick to a schedule
Next, I stick to a schedule. Okay, this is probably the hardest for me since I work out of my home. I’ve found it’s very important to keep your work separate from your housework. In other words, taking 10 minutes here to throw in a load of laundry or 30 minutes there to vacuum the house eats up valuable work time. Block out whole segments of time to work and only work. If you need to fit in housework or errands, then block out that time beforehand and use only that amount of time that you’ve scheduled. You’ll be more productive and find you’ll get more done on both fronts.

Fourth Priority: Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Learn to delegate! This was difficult for me to learn, but now I’m a pro. (Just ask Scott, my production supervisor.) It took me a couple years to be able to “let go” of certain tasks. For a long time I thought I was the only one who could possibly do a job, to completion, and with the quality that my business guaranteed. I’ve since learned to delegate and trust that others are fully capable to do the work, and care as much as I do about the business and our services. It has opened up all sorts of time for me to work on other things – like creating new services, networking, bringing in more business – and spending time with my family! In other words – quit “making the donuts.” Until you learn to let go of the production side of your business, you’ll never be able to grow your business.

Finally: Be Kind to Yourself
The last thing I do is to be kind to myself. I am one person and there’s only 24 hours in a day. If I don’t get to a particular task, I put it on the top of my list for the next day. I’m a list person, so keeping a to-do-list works well for me. I celebrate my accomplishments. When I check off a major task or project, I allow myself time to read a good book, take a hot bath, or go get ice cream with my kids. I also dedicate at least Sunday, if not Saturday and Sunday, to my home and family. NO WORK! This is something that I feel is so important, especially in this crazy, fast-paced world, to reconnect with your husband/wife and kids.