With all the convenience and flexibility that a mobile office provides, this time of ultra-connectivity and a global business place can also mean that it’s almost impossible to create a clear separation between work and home.
Long gone are the days that people clocked off at 5pm and left their work at the office. Instead, we respond to emails as they arrive on our smart phones, catch up on work reading on the laptop or Skype with colleagues in other time zones – often late into the night. Stan Gordon, CEO of Franchised Food Company and international businessman offers his tips on how to find the all-important balance between work and home:
Spend just five minutes at the start of each day prioritising your tasks and save yourself valuable time throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be complicated, a simple ‘to do’ list is sufficient. Lists are great way to determine what needs to be achieved for the day, and will enable you to work more proactively rather than reactively, highlight the things that are urgent, and reassess the not-so-important tasks. Mark off tasks as you complete them… There’s something extremely satisfying about ticking off the boxes!
In any working day, there’ll be minor interruptions – that’s just life – but you can put methods into place to ensure you stay on top of your workload. Just like any business, sometimes there are bumps in the road, but it’s learning how to overcome these roadblocks that is key. Work out how you can handle these situations whilst keeping on track.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
Once you’re in the routine of prioritising your work, delegate certain tasks to others. Be realistic – you can’t do it all – believe me I’ve tried! By delegating tasks, your immediate workload will be reduced. And whilst your input may be required to oversee some tasks, your focus can be turned to the important projects that need your full attention – the real nitty gritty stuff.
Done well, delegation is a win-win. Your team will feel valued at the opportunity to take on new challenges, while you can move beyond the smaller details of your business, allowing it to grow. Step back from the smaller things and find balance within your projects. Take note of people’s strengths and weaknesses and assign tasks accordingly. Be aware of your own abilities (and sometimes inabilities) – don’t waste time on something you’re not good at, especially if there’s someone else who can do a better job! Remember you surround yourself with people for a reason. Give them the tools and freedom to excel; it’ll benefit you and your business in the long run.
Play by the rules
Set yourself some hard and fast rules about what time you’ll leave the office, and how you will use your portable devices when you are at home. Depending on your commitments and values, these rules will vary from person to person. The reality is that sometimes you might have to work late… Just don’t make it a habit. All work and no play isn’t good for anyone. Running a business can be stressful, and everyone needs down time to ensure you’re more productive when you’re actually at work.
Once your rules are set in place, commit to playing by them. If you can’t help yourself, put your phone in a drawer for an hour during dinner – or even better, turn it off. When you are at home, set a time to check your voicemail and reply to emails. Not only will you be more productive, you’ll also be able to focus on enjoying your family time. At the end of the day, they are the ones that count! Never forget, you need to have balance!
Just say no
In an ideal world, we would all love our business’ to grow quickly, our brands to get maximum exposure and our personal brands to be recognised in the right industry. It’s important to remember that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your business’s longevity is to say no to that additional project, that extra piece of work or another networking event. Be smart, assess your workload and ask yourself the question: is this really important? What are the benefits in the long run to me and my business, and what sacrifices will I have to make? It’s simple; do the pros outweigh the cons? If you’re already at capacity and struggling to keep that elusive work/life balance, then taking on another task is probably not the best idea.
Remember that sometimes, it’s perfectly ok to say no. If it’s a project you really want to be a part of, ask for help, shuffle your schedule around and delegate some of your work. Keep in mind that too much on your plate can mean important things fall by the wayside. As the saying goes, many troubles in this life stem from saying yes too quickly, and not saying no soon enough!
Learn to switch off
It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you don’t need to be contactable all the time. It’s ok to switch off every now and then. For me, Friday nights is family time. So, on a Friday night, I leave my phone in my bag – on silent! Voicemail was created for a reason, and if it’s that important, they will call back! Remember most of the time, everything can wait a while (unless you’re a doctor or fireman on call).
Most people don’t expect a response to an email they sent at 10pm on a Friday night, nor should they! Don’t fall into the trap of responding during out-of-office times, it only creates unrealistic expectations. I never answer calls after 9pm, as I said there’s not much that can’t wait for a while! Answer emails during business hours and set a precedent for everyone with which you interact. Be firm with yourself – you have the power to make these decisions – and stick to them!
Get a hobby
It might sound simplistic, but find yourself a hobby – have fun in your own time! Whether it’s playing golf, cooking, joining a special interest club, wining and dining or just spending quality with your family, set aside some ‘me’ time.
I love crazy, cool and fun ‘gimmicks’ and enjoy spending time adding to my collection of toys… anything from a novelty USB to a jet ski. If it’s different and fun – I want it – and am known in my household for driving everyone a little crazy! It’s also really important to me to always allocate down time to spend with my family. After all, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for their support.
The benefits of having a hobby means that instead of spending time answering emails, you’ll find yourself focusing on bettering your golf score or branching out to try new things… or even looking for the latest gimmick! Give yourself the time to achieve something non-work related. It’ll benefit your business interactions come Monday morning, and anything that helps you ease into the working week is a plus!
Stan Gordon is the CEO of Franchised Food Company, the umbrella company encompassing the brands Cold Rock, Mr Whippy, Trampoline Gelato, Pretzel World and Nutshack. Ever thought about owning your own business? For info about owning your very own franchise visit http://www.ffco.com.au/buy-a-franchise.html