Life keeps us busy. Running businesses keeps us even busier.
Between writing new content for our blogs, posting on social media, being present for our real-life people, writing emails, scheduling dentist appointments, responding to various emails and comments, processing our analytics, attending birthday parties, managing our accounting, and trying to sleep enough to be a functioning human being, it's no wonder we're worn out!
Our plates are full, but they're full of good and necessary things, so what are we supposed to do? It's summer time, and the lake is calling to us with its enticing song, our families are begging us to close our computers and join them for a game, and yet the notifications keep popping up, our to-do lists keep growing, and there is always more to be doing to keep the wheels turning in our businesses.
What's a girl to do?
WRITE DOWN yOUR PRIORITIES
What matters most to you? If you want to spend more time with your family, that's going to require some sacrifices in other areas.
There will always be more work to be done, so you have to decide how much time you're willing to invest in your work when you could be spending time with your family. How much work are you willing to do on vacation, if any? How many days will you take off completely? What's the tradeoff?
At the end of the day, your business won't fly out the window if you don't answer that last email or if you fail to post to Instagram for a couple days. I'm not saying you won't suffer any potential loss of steam, growth, or revenue, but things won't blow up just because you took a little break.
You and I could work twenty-four/seven and still have work to do, so we have to draw the line somewhere. We only have so much time to spend in this season with our families and loved ones, and I know we all want to make the most of it while still successfully running our businesses.
Choosing to invest more time in our relationships with our friends and families is an intentional choice that we can follow up with intentional actions to make it happen.
I'm not going to jump right into how to balance work with family time on our vacations. There are several things you can do to prepare ahead for some concentrated family time that requires taking a break from work.
You can do your best to work ahead. If you know you're going to be taking some time off, you can do your level best to get as much done as possible before you go. You can clear out your email inbox, responding to everyone before you head out. You can tie up the loose ends with your projects. You can plan, outline, and draft your next project ahead of the duedate so you'll be all set to jump right back in when you get back.
Further, you can schedule things out. So many things can be prepared ahead of time and scheduled to post, go live, or go out at a later date and time. I've been doing that for a couple weeks as I prepared to go on a couple short trips-- I wrote blog posts early, wrote social media content early, and scheduled out the rest of my content for the month so I could be better prepared to take some time off (and pick right back up when I returned).
You can simply reschedule things to accommodate your different schedule. I had to move a few client calls to fit them around my trips recently, and people were very understanding. Choosing to move things and explaining why you're rescheduling (so you can focus on spending time with your family) demonstrates your values and your commitment to the important things in life. Most people will understand and be willing to reschedule with you.
You can delegate tasks when possible. If you have a team that can help you out, you could have them respond to emails in your absence, post content for you, or completely take over the reins and run the whole shebang while you're gone.
If you're currently a one-woman show (like me), you could consider automating some things. There are apps and programs that can help you schedule out your content so you can create it all at once and have it post later. You can set up funnels with evergreen content so you're not constantly creating new material or having to manually move people through your sequence.
You can turn on out-of-office email responses (some other apps allow this function, too, so check that out!) to let people know you've received their message and will reply when you're back. Having things like this set up is what keeps me from worrying about missing things while I'm away-- I have social media content scheduled out and an auto-responder on my business page, along with an email funnel, so people still hear from me while I'm gone, and I can engage with them more personally when I get back.
The time you spend preparing for a trip will likely not look like your normal days. Whether you're trying to work ahead or just prepare a week's worth of content to be disseminated while you're out, you're going to be busy. You might have to move some things around and make last-minute changes.
You might have to work a little longer for a few days to compensate for your days off. And that's okay! I think it's 100% worth it to hustle a little harder for a few days (investing intentionally, of course, working efficiently and purposefully) so you and I can reap the benefits of our hard work by taking some well-deserved time off. It just requires a little flexibility on our part!
I'm changing up my schedule for the next couple weeks in order to get a couple weeks' worth of work done in about half the time without losing my sanity. Much of that requires moving some things around, letting go of some things (ahem, sweeping my floors, cooking fancy meals, and taking extra walks) so I can focus on the things that are most important right now-- preparing for my trips by buckling down and getting my work done.
Approaching this kind of work/life balance with grace and flexibility allows us to make changes as necessary. Maybe you'll try working in the morning and spending time with your family in the afternoon, only to find out it would work better the other way around. Or perhaps you'll find that delegating isn't the best option for you, but working ahead and scheduling things out for yourself does work. It can take some trial and error, but that's part of why there are several approaches-- because different things work for different people and situations!
Whether you're preparing for some concentrated family time that will have you stepping away from work or you're just trying to figure out how to get normal work done with kids running around or neighbors knocking in the background, the simplest answer I can give you is to block your time.
If you know of times during the day when you can get in some uninterrupted work time, capitalize on it! I like working when the house is empty and nobody else is vying for my time. And while I'm working my tail off to get work done before traveling, I know that if I end up taking any of it with me, it's going to work best for me to complete my work before others get up in the morning or while they're busy doing their own individual things, not when everyone else is gathering for meals or outings and I'd be left sitting inside by myself, missing out on the fun and community.
If you're trying to balance work and rest or fun, consider when you do your absolute best work. I'm a morning person, so I know that if I need to get some hard work done, my best chance for doing it is before lunch. For that reason, I don't schedule other things before lunch. I plan my errands and coaching calls for the afternoon. Doing so allows me to take advantage of when I do my best work.
Time blocking also helps me stay focused because it requires that I've declared a purpose for each section of my day. Knowing what I'm supposed to be focusing on is actually liberating because it frees me from having to question whether there's something else (or better) I should be doing with my time. It eliminates distractions and helps me be as productive as possible because I block out time for the most important things and get them done faster when I've dedicated time to them.
Blocking your time is also a great way to approach partial solutions-- for instance, if you're working from home and trying to juggle family time and work time (or even work time and tending to household tasks). If you set aside certain hours for work, explaining to your family that those hours are for work, and that there's another portion of your day entirely devoted to family time, it's easier to engage fully in both. You'll have greater peace knowing you're not ignoring one or the other entirely, but doing your best to balance both, and people on both sides are more understanding because you're investing intentionally in both and setting boundaries to save your sanity in the process and keep one from bleeding into the other.
We all have limited time in our day and endless options for how we can spend it. But none of us can do it all. We have to choose what we're going to invest in, and I'm a big advocate for making those choices intentionally, with our priorities and purpose in mind.
What matters most to you? What is your purpose (in life and in your business)? What choices support those things?
Saying "yes" to one opportunity means saying "no" to something else, and the opposite is also true. To make more time to spend with our families while still running our businesses with integrity, we'll have to start saying "no" to some good things so we can say "yes" to the best things.
Here are some guidelines I use:
Say "yes" to what makes you come alive.
Say "yes" to what you love.
Say "yes" to what's best for your family in this season.
Say "yes" to what suits your skill set and season of life.
Say "yes" to what lasts.
Say "no" to what someone else is better suited for.
Say "no" to what you don't have passion for.
Say "no" to what just amounts to keeping up with the Joneses.
Say "no" to what drains you more than energizes you.
Say "no" to what has little return on investment.
These guidelines might not have all hit home for you, but I'm willing to bet some of them have! And even if they didn't, I'm sure they got you thinking about what kind of guidelines would help you make decisions that honor your priorities and your purpose. And when you lead with those two things, you can't lose!
I sincerely hope these words here have helped you find a way to run your business while still prioritizing time with your family. I know "work/life balance" is a trendy topic that's raised some debate about what it means to have a life and work, especially for those of us running our own businesses.
It's something that looks different for all of us and that changes with the seasons. It's a give and take mentality that asks how we can navigate the tension of doing two opposing things, but it really just takes finding the middle ground and working to keep the first things first. It means preparing ahead, rescheduling, delegating or automating, saying "no," and above all, being flexible.
Which one of those tips was most helpful for you? How are you managing to be present for your people while running your business (or just juggling a full work schedule if you're not a business owner-- I see you, too!)? I'd love to hear from you! You can simply comment below, shoot me an email at email@example.com, or schedule a call with me to chat some more!
P.S. If you're looking for some help creating space for rest or navigating your own time management, you don't have to figure it out alone! I'd love to help you!