What are some good tips for busy entrepreneurs who want to find work life balance? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
Anyone who ever met me will tell you that I work all of the time, so the question for me is how to make sure I have adequate time for anything else. Here are my five tips.
- Smart multitasking will give you more time.
- Hire all of the help you can afford
- Set limits on your volunteer time
- Your family should be able to call in some chips
- Always be learning.
Smart multitasking isn't talking on the phone with a client while trying to write a database program. That's just going to cause you to make mistakes at both.
For example, I need to get exercise and I need to return a lot of phone calls. At home, I usually walk around the neighborhood whenever I'm on the phone, whether it is talking to my mom, one of my kids or talking strategy with a co-founder or investor. If I'm some place cold, I walk in the hotel hallways and up and downstairs while talking.
If I need to empty the dishwasher or pick up clutter around the house, I do that talking on the phone as well.
Sitting in LA traffic? Phone calls or listening to podcasts (since we do a podcast and I want to get ideas on how to improve it.) Smart multitasking can pick up an hour or two extra a day. Don't have time to call your mom? Call her when you're stuck in traffic.
Hire all of the help you can afford. When I was in graduate school, I read a great book by Sandra Scarr, Mother Care, Other Care. She makes the point that if you don't have time to make gourmet organic baby food from raw vegetables, buy the stuff in the jar and your kid is just as likely to spit either kind on the cat. I have almost always had a housekeeper, an assistant and an accountant. I have not always been rich and successful but it has almost always been a profitable deal - I made more per hour as a consultant than my housekeeper did. My accountant can do the books many times faster than I can because that's what she does all day, and God save her, she actually likes doing taxes for multiple states where we do business.
If you make $A per hour and it will take you B hours to complete a task, if the cost to have it done is less than A *B, then hire it out unless it's something you like to do.
Set a firm limit on your volunteer time and when it is used up, say no. I am always getting asked to teach judo, speak to school groups, help with fundraisers for good causes, speak at conferences. "It would be so good to have a woman in tech", "The event is raising money for refugee orphans with cancer who have Down syndrome." I put a limit of four hours a week on volunteering. Usually that is taken up by driving to south LA and back and teaching judo at Gompers Middle School. Maybe you don't think that's a lot. I've averaged 4 hours a week for 9 years. I don't care what you think.
Know when stuff is important to your family and you have to put work aside. Three of my children are married, two of them decided to get married out of state. I put everything on hold and went because I am not an idiot. I went to two Olympics. I attended the National Hispanic Journalists Association meeting when my daughter was Emerging Journalist of the Year. This doesn't mean your family only gets your attention for major events. I go to Missouri at Christmas and freeze my ass because it is important to my husband to visit his family. The point is, your family should have chips (like in poker) that they can cash in for what is important to them. You also should let them know they are important to you. Sometimes, I drive up to Hollywood and have lunch with Jenn just because she's Jennifer. I can't tell you how often you should do something with your family just because you love them, but if you haven't done anything in the last month, I'm pretty sure you're doing it wrong.
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