Some entrepreneurs sacrifice everything to build their business. They eschew relationships, forego friends, and spend all of their time focusing on getting the bigger deal, raising the next round, and securing the next partnership. However, that model is quickly becoming outdated.
Here are 11 techniques that my clients have used to find creative ways to work hard on their business while staying connected and committed to their spouses and kids and also true to their core values and personal priorities.
1. Take a break from work, then go back.
Being home for dinner is important for many people. While you might not be able to wrap up the day by 5pm, you can push pause for a few hours and spend some time with your spouse and kids. The key to this strategy is to truly pause and be present.
2. Leave post-it notes on the mirror.
If you leave the house before everyone wakes up, take 5 minutes and leave a few messages on sticky notes on the bathroom mirror. Don't over think these. You don't need to write a ton to make an impact. If you want to cheat and save some time, once a week write a bunch of notes and just dole them out over the next several days. You'll still get full points.
3. Send random text messages.
Sometimes the most meaningful message is the random and unexpected one. Take a break between meetings to send quick thoughts to your loved ones. Don't over think them, just say what's on your mind and that you're thinking of them. The cheat here is to set an irregular calendar reminder to prompt you to send something. Again, full points.
4. Do a video hangout.
You don't always need a reason to call. And you don't always need to say something. If you're just working at the office or hanging out in your hotel room, do a video call and leave it running. I've done this with my kids while I'm traveling and they are doing homework. This unstructured time can lead to interesting insights and random conversation.
5. Hide notes in random places.
Similar to the post-it notes on the mirror, hide little notes in bags and random place around the house. Let them know that you miss them and are thinking of them even if you're not there. If you want to kick this up a notch, make it a hunt with clues.
6. Have breakfast together.
Many executives I work with find it difficult to get out of work in time for dinner and kids bedtimes. If having a meal together is important to you, try switching it to breakfast. Even sitting down for ten minutes while you have your coffee can be quality time if you're focus on them.
7. Set aside no-device time.
Devices are the killer of quality time. If you really want to be focused and present, turn off your device or put it in another room. Taking a few minutes or even a few hours in the evening and on the weekend will allow you to truly connect with your loved ones.
8. Work side-by-side.
Sometimes you still just need to work. Getting out of the home office and sitting at the kitchen table with your spouse or your kids as they read or do homework still provides a chance to connect.
9. Bring the family on a business trip.
Just because you need to travel for work, doesn't mean that the family can't join you. While you might need to forego the fancy dinners with clients, working during the day and spending time with family at night can be a great trade off between your business goals with your family commitments.
10. Leave video messages.
Today's modern technology makes staying connected easier than ever. Instead of simple voice mail, leave a video message or send them a quick video text. Most of our communication is nonverbal, so seeing your smile is better than just hearing your voice.
11. Ask interesting questions.
Forgo the standard questions such as "how was your day" and ask questions that spur real thinking. Try "what's one thing that surprised you today?" or "who was the most interesting person you met today?" instead.
Life is full of trade offs. And if you want to excel at business you need to work hard and put in quality hours. But that doesn't mean you need to sacrifice everything else. In fact, the most successful executives I know excel in both business and family. And they do that by knowing what matters and making the right tradeoffs to maximize impact.