We are living in a time when more and more people are venturing into entrepreneurship or considering it. The desire to be your own boss or to do that which one loves is slowly overriding the need for a consistent monthly pay check that comes through being employed. The hard truth is that outside of the glam and glitter of being your own boss, there is a lot of hard work! And, bills still have to be paid pay-check or not. This is especially true for those who have a family and want to try their hand at their own business.
The reality of having to pay bills is what drives the illusion that you must work every waking hour and for every client who knocks on your door. That way, you will have a consistent flow of income. If you do not work you cannot eat so you dare not stop for a break! I beg to differ. I believe that you can build a business that fits into your lifestyle. And it all begins with a schedule.
Our lifestyle is slowly becoming one where we are driven by what is happening now. The days of setting appointments weeks or even days in advance are quickly becoming extinct.
It is common to hear people requesting to be called on the morning of the proposed meeting to confirm their availability. Such tendencies make it difficult to plan your day. As an entrepreneur, time management is crucial to survival. Despite these societal changes, it is quite important that you adopt the discipline of planning your day. Time is an expensive commodity that can never be reclaimed. If you are able to know where you need to be at a particular time, and what you are supposed to be doing at that particular time, you are a step ahead of most people.
How to do it: First, stop using your diary as a notebook and use it to track your appointments. Also make use of the calendar in your phone if your diary is not within reach. You can divide your day into two or three-hour slots within which you can fit in your appointments and activities. The next thing you need to do is fill up your calendar with personal and family time, followed by work appointments. If you do it the other way around, work will take over your life.
Entrepreneurship has a way of taking you away from your family such that juggling family and business is a delicate balance. Depending on the business you are in, you may be required to work odd hours or over the weekends. But, the ultimate decision on how and where your hours are spent is up to you! If you are bold enough, you can let your clients know that you do not work on weekends or that you only work between 9am and 4pm. They may think you are crazy but if they really want your business, they will work with your hours. Think about the shops owned by Asians. Some of them close for lunch without apologies and their client’s factor that into their day.
How to do it: Take your calendar and fill in all the times you want to spend with family. If it is school events, dates with your spouse, family outings, fit them into your calendar. Block out that time and ensure that it is not substituted with business.
It is critical to schedule out some time for yourself. Without good mental, physical or spiritual health, it is almost impossible to run a business or do much else. Perhaps you like to keep fit, schedule in gym time. You may want to maintain your regular visit to the salon or barber shop, schedule that in. Personal reflection enables one to review the past and plan for the future. Putting it on your calendar gives it the recognition it deserves.
How to do it: Fit in self-care in convenient time slots around the important family dates and times.
Now that the important aspects of family and self-have been allocated spots on your schedule, what remains can be used to fix work appointments and activities. Without a schedule, it is very easy to work around the clock to build your business and ensure that your client’s needs are met. That is a sure recipe for burnout. In the same way employees have working hours, choose hours that work for you. Your body will appreciate it and so will your family and friends.
How to do it: Clarify when your day starts and when it ends. I know of a creative who is strict about taking work calls outside of her prescribed working hours. Always remember that people can take advantage of you being available at all times.
As you create your schedule, keep it flexible. Put in allowances for changes, and margins that allow you to get from place to place. Without those, your schedule will seem too rigid and it may end up frustrating you.
How to do it: Take time to measure the amount of time each of your tasks requires. This will ensure that you to do allocate them too much or too little time. Creating and maintaining a work life balance is a challenge to most entrepreneurs, especially those starting out. However, managing this balance will make the difference between having either a stress-filled or a fulfilling pursuit of business endeavors. The joy of watching your business grow will be coupled by having your family by your side to celebrate the milestones with you will be the reward of maintaining a work life balance.