025: 5 steps to get better work-life balance

In episode 25 of the Parentpreneur Accelerator Podcast I take you through a series of 5 quick steps that will help you achieve a better equilibrium between your work or business, and your home life.

There are very few Parentpreneurs who haven’t encountered feelings of stress, overwhelm and guilt whilst trying to run or start a business.

This episode was created to help you find easy solutions to quell these negative experiences. Based on my own experience and work with many entrepreneurs, I’ll take you through 5 steps which will allow you to progress with your work or business whilst not sacrificing special time with loves ones.

Creating the right balance between time spent on business and family is essential. Spending too much time working can lead to damaged relationships, procrastination, time wasting and bad health.

Many entrepreneurs talk about ‘balance’, though I prefer to think about this subject in terms of ‘switching’ our focus, like a switch controlling where we are sending our mental energy.

In this episode, you’ll learn more about why I suggest ‘switching’ is better, and how you can effectively switch between work and home life, and learn to switch-off from one when you are focusing on another.

Specifically, we’ll cover how to:

  1. Prioritise what matters most
  2. Block out time for your priorities
  3. Accept and adapt to changes
  4. Create a positive work-life balance culture in your business
  5. Delegate without abdicating

The 5 Steps Explained

Step 1. Get clear on your values and current priority

You need to be clear on what you are switching between – kids, partner, health, Startup business, job, friends etc. Work out what your priority order is of those things and accept that when your top priority (say your kids) need your full attention, that you’ll accept that a lower priority (like seeing friends) will take the hit, and that’s ok.

Within your top priorities, identify the specific priority tasks you have. For example, perhaps for your kids it’s spending time playing with them, or reading bedtime stories. For your work, perhaps you are currently focused on speaking to potential customers. For your health, perhaps you are focused on exercising for 10 mins each day.

Get clear on what you’ll Tasks you will spend your time on when you spend time on that priority. If you are starting a new business and feel overwhelmed at the 100s of Tasks you seems to need to do, go listen to episode 5 of this podcast to get clarity on the 6 steps you really need to take.

Step 2. Use Time blocking to ensure you are allocating time based on what you value and plan to avoid stress

Once you know what you need to do with your time, sit down with your online calendar or a piece of paper and plan out the next 5 days. When will you do each of them? Start with your top priorities, so that when you run out of time in the week it doesn’t matter because you’ve spent time on the things that matter most.

Block out time in the calendar in blocks of 30-90 minutes (not more, not less).

Ensure your plan helps you avoid stress, for example don’t plan to have a child in the background of your most important calls if you can avoid it. It will just cause you stress!!

Step 3. Accept and adapt to changes rather than try to ignore them

Your plan will not go to plan. That’s fine. It’s like a birth plan (if you had one), it’s there as a guide to help you and others know what you want and when. When things don’t go to plan, that’s OK. Just adapt your plan as needed, or if things go really crazy, accept that the original plan goes out the window and you’ll do a new plan once things settle.

The key here is not to ignore things that impact the plan.

For example, one the Parentpreneurs on my Accelerator program joined our weekly Q&A call and shared that she felt frustrated because she had made very little progress that week. She felt frustrated, and overwhelmed by the list of things she still planned to achieve by the end of the week. She now felt immobilised, unable to make progress with anything.

I asked a couple of questions and it became clear that her mother had become suddenly unwell and had needed looking after… yet this Parentpreneur hadn’t factored that in to their plan, so they just felt stressed that they weren’t able to perform the tasks they had planned to.
Once she accepted this, she was able to let go of the plan, identify the one thing that she would do that day to move the business forward, and let herself off on everything else.

Step 4. Create a positive work-life balance culture in your business

As you grow your business, the number of other people involved with grow too. Customers, employees, partners and so on.

It is common for Parentpreneurs to assume that to be professional they must pretend like there is nothing else going on in their life other than this business. They allow or even encourage customers and employees to “contact them anytime”, often allowing the calls at weekends, evenings or on holidays.

Don’t do this to yourself!

Being professional doesn’t require 24/7 access. In fact, it is more professional to set expectations, and have specific times that you are available, and alternative solutions for when you aren’t.

So, create a culture in your business of being clear on your boundaries, and when you are available, and what people should do in your absence.
Also, encourage and support your team in doing the same – letting your staff work 16 hour days or work weekends isn’t sustainable in the long run.

Step 5. Practice ‘letting go’ and ‘holding on’

You can’t do everything. That’s why you prioritise – to make sure the most important things get done, regardless of the time you have available.

However, as you grow your business you will get the opportunity to delegate some things to other people. This can be hard to do if you’ve not done it before.

First you need to let go – you need to accept that some things won’t get done if you hold on to them too tightly, and that even if someone else will take longer over it or won’t do it as perfectly as you, their contribution will result in more being done in total.

Second, you need to hold on. Once you’ve learned to let go, it’s common for Parentpreneurs to let go too much – they abdicate responsibility for the task, completely handing it over to someone and then only discover things are going wrong when it’s a complete mess. This is particularly common for outsourcing accounting, or hiring salespeople.

To address this, use the 10-80-10 model that is discussed in more detail in Dan Bradbury’s excellent book: Breeding Gazelles (side note: I’ll be interviewing Dan for the podcast soon!).

In a nutshell, this model encourages you to spend time with your employee on the first 10% of the task – breaking it down, planning how to approach it, and gathering the resources needed. Then, let them run with it for the next 80%, and have time scheduled for you to work with them on the last 10% to review what has been done, measuring the results, agreeing what needs tweaking, and planning the next steps. That’s the 10-80-10.

And for this step I say Practice ‘letting go’ and ‘holding on’ because you will be terrible at the when you first start, but use experience and learning from others to help you get better.

So, that’s the five steps to get better Work-life Balance or should I say, Work-life switching!

Would you like more help to get more help with this issue? Check out my Balance Masterclass.

About The Author

Alexis Kingsbury

Alexis is founder of the Parentpreneur Accelerator and Making Greatness Ltd. He is a serial entrepreneur, with experience creating start-ups in a variety of areas, particularly in SaaS and EdTech. He is also a lucky husband and proud dad, and now helps other 'parentpreneurs' like him to achieve their dreams of having successful businesses, making a difference in the world, and spending time with the people they love.

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