Everyone seems to have a dream of wanting a job that allows them to work remotely. I’m not saying this is a bad dream to have, but it’s not always an easy task when you have a family. I’m extremely blessed that I can work from my home office, but sometimes, I find myself spending too much time at my desk and not with the ones that matter most.
Balancing my work and family life is difficult. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s easy, I struggle with it daily.
On some days, I use to wake up and instantly sit at my desk, not even saying good morning to the family. On those same days, I would find myself crawling into bed hours after the family has been asleep. Not only is this unhealthy physically and emotionally for me, it was putting a toll on my wife and kids.
I get it, you start taking on more projects to provide for your family, only to leave less time to spend with your family. On the opposing side, if you take time away from work, the projects begin to build up and your workload seems to never stabilize. It has taken me years to figure this out and I continue to evolve my tactics to find what works best for me.
In this article, I want to go over a few tips that have helped me spend more time with my family and continue to get work done. Your results may vary as these are the tips that work best for me, but I encourage you to give them a try and let me know how they work for you!
Set an alarm
One of the first things I did when experiencing the freedom of working from home was sleeping in. I use to think I could sleep in to make myself feel energized for work, but after sleeping in for years, I started to realize I was slowly destroying my motivation. I found myself procrastinating more during the day and working later into the evenings. This correlated to zero time with the family.
Since I was starting my day closer to noon, within a blink of an eye it was dark out and my family was sleeping. Sure, I’ve been working the same amount of hours as everyone else who works a tradition 9 to 5, but since I was starting at a later time, it felt like I was working 24/7.
I started setting an alarm for 7am and to be honest, it was terrible. I hated every moment of it. Literally felt as if my body was being drained, but little did I know, it was helping!
Waking up early provided me with more clarity and motivation. I started to complete daily tasks before lunch time, which started to free up some more time in the afternoons to get even more work done. Since my daily task was normally completed before lunch, what I was doing in the afternoon was never related to my goals set for that specific day. This allowed me to stop working around dinner and spend the evenings with my family.
Like I said, the hardest thing for me was getting past the few days of feeling exhausted from resetting my body clock. Once I started getting into a rhythm, I began waking up before my alarm feeling motivated to tackle huge tasks.
Go to bed
As an entrepreneur, I’m always looking for new ways to better myself. I tend to look at influencers for inspiration and knowledge. If you do the same thing, you may realize a few growing quotes: “Grind hard.” “Work hard.” “You should be working a few extra hours instead of sleep or TV.” None of these are wrong, but you need to remember that sleep is very important and should not be overlooked.
To this day, I find myself staying up entirely too late, making me drowsy and irritable the next day when the alarm goes off. Remember, if you’re setting an alarm for the morning, you need to make sure you’re getting the appropriate rest to ensure a productive workday. Everyone has a different body, so the amount of sleep you need to feel energized may vary, but just make sure you’re getting to bed at a reasonable hour!
I get going to bed early will feel strange. Maybe even so much so that laying in bed makes you feel uncomfortable. Something that’s helped me feel tired and get to sleep quicker was reading. Finding a book that interested me but wasn’t full of imagination. Business books and biographies help me sooth the mind, and they are also informational! Win, win.
Personally, the best way I can explain why I use to stay up outside of being bombarded with influencers saying work harder, stay up later, etc…I use to feel like I was missing something if I went to bed early. Maybe the next big idea wouldn’t happen because I was sleeping. Or maybe something big in news would happen while I was asleep. You know what, I still struggle with this daily, but now that I’m getting older, I’m starting to realize what sleep deprivation is doing to my body and I’m not ok with it!
Schedule and Prioritize
For many years, I use to look at other business-minded individuals and see that their calendar always seemed to be jammed pack. In my head, I would always tell myself that it’s impossible to be that busy. As the years progressed, I started to take notice that while these hugely successful business owners were, in fact, that busy. However, not everything needs to be work-related on your schedule.
This section of the article is going to be the most jam-packed. I’m going to provide some great tips on not only how to schedule your daily tasks to make sure things get completed, but how to prioritize time for projects and family.
Write things down!
You heard it here first, write down your schedule. I’m not talking about a digital calendar or note taking software that syncs with all your devices (which is a great idea for time-sensitive tasks) but physically grabbing a piece of paper and a good old-fashioned pen and write down the tasks you want to complete for that specific day.
This is something that works great for me. The physical sensation of not only writing down the task but allowing myself to cross it out once completed. It’s SO satisfying!
Here’s a tip when scheduling out your daily to-do list: Put the quickest tasks first. This allows you to cross more off your list in a shorter amount of time, not only making you feel like you’re accomplishing things but getting you motivated to get to the next item!
Digital calendars can save the day
Wait just a hot minute, Steven. Didn’t you literally just say to stay clear of using digital calendars for setting a daily task list? Why yes, yes I did! But hear me out on this one.
There is a time and a place for every piece of software you might think of. When it comes to creating a daily to-do list, physically writing down my tasks work best. When it comes to creating deadlines for projects, fitting in meetings, or allowing extra time for a special movie night with the family, using a calendar works great!
Not only does my calendar of choice sync between all my devices, allowing me to see my calendar on anything I’m using at that given moment, but it will alert me of an upcoming task.
Simply put, follow this:
- To-do List: Physically write with a pen and paper
- Deadlines, meetings, etc…: Put in your digital calendar so you never miss a beat
Setting aside some time for self-love is extremely important. Far too often I get caught up in my work and family that I forget how to love myself. I forget that I need time to gather my emotions and thoughts.
Simple things like going to the store to get a cup of coffee alone, or getting a haircut, are ways I come decompress from my daily stress.
Once a week, I mark me time in my calendar to make sure I’m also taking care of myself.
Making sure I spend as much time with my family is one of the most important tasks on my daily list. While business is important to me, my family means the world. They are my crunch. They are my motivation. Without them, I honestly don’t know what I would be doing to better my self-worth and push my career forward.
I strive for greatness and without my family pushing me to do bigger and better things, what’s the point?
Spending quality time with my children is not only important for their growth as individuals but extremely important to me. I love my father, but unfortunately, we didn’t have the opportunity to live in the same house. He wasn’t always physically around when I needed him, so making sure my children have a father figure in their life is extremely important to me.
So yes, in my calendar every day, I have a set time that I spend with my children and wife. It might sound odd to put your family on a calendar, but for me, it works. It makes me stop what I’m doing and focus solely on my family. The main thing I value in life.
I honestly mean everything. If it comes down to it, schedule when to take showers. I know there are people out there that are that busy. If you schedule your days appropriately and prioritize your to-do list, you’ll be able to push forward. You’ll start to feel motivated seeing daily tasks be checked out. Best of all, you’ll stay focused during the day.
There is so much that can distract you from things that matter. YouTube, Instagram, Facebook…social media as a whole. I get it, but having the self-discipline to follow your list and schedule will show you-you can do anything if you set your mind to it. After realizing that, you’ll be able to do anything!
Have you ever created a deadline for a project thinking it was almost too far away, only to realize that you’ve set yourself short and don’t think you can make the deadline? I know I have! But wait, you just scored another new client and created another deadline which once again, seemed far out but arrived way too quick!
Now what? You have too much work and not enough time to finish it.
If you’re a freelancer, I get how valuable clients are. No clients mean no money. No money means no food on the table.
Lengthening my deadlines out the gate has helped me with my workflow. It has allowed me to take on more work, but almost feel as if I don’t have enough work. It’s a catch 22, but a good one to have.
Now listen, this won’t work if you’re deadlines are absurd. If your old deadlines were normally, 2 weeks, don’t make new deadlines of 6 months. That’s a bit crazy, and depending on your service it can be a bit unrealistic. In return, your potential new client will go elsewhere. We don’t want that issue. Here’s my advice:
Lengthen everything by a week, and then lengthen as you feel fit if that added week didn’t help. Never go to lengths that seem absurd. Only you know the industry you’re in, so adjust it accordingly.
When I said my family means the world to me, I wasn’t lying. Spending quality time with them is important, but it can’t be sporadic. Great, so I eat dinner and play a few games with my family daily…but that’s just spending quality time together. In my opinion, it isn’t necessarily making the most memories.
Once a week, I do set aside a specific evening for family night. Maybe that’s going out to dinner? A local festival? Maybe a movie? It doesn’t really matter, as long as we are out making memories.
If all you can manage is an hour, that’s an hour of memories for the family that you never had.
Now that you’ve learned what works for me in setting a healthy work and family life balance, I encourage you to get out there and give them a try. Again, these might not work for you, but it definitely won’t harm you. Give it a shot and report back.
What are some of your keys for a successful work and family life balance? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.