I've spent the last 2 years at home watching my son grow up and it's amazing. I've started a new company in the last 6 months and it's taking off, which is great, but I am nervous about the time commitment it's going to take for the next few years.
Any advice on how to balance not missing my kids grow up with giving enough time to my new business?
Throttle the time in your business and be brutal about saying "No."
Be ultra-clear on expectations with every single client. "This is how I work. At X'oclock, I am offline and no longer available. I check emails and messages at these times only: X,Y, and Z o'clock."
If that doesn't work for them and they want someone who says "How high?" whenever they say, "Jump!" you say, "No Thanks."
But you'll find people like expectations, They like knowing there is a consistent process, an established way of doing things.
Also, find people you can trust and delegate to them.
With a little planning and discipline, it's possible to get unreal amounts of work completed in a very short time.
By getting serious about my schedule and free time, I've been able to trim my work weeks down to about 25 hours, while still producing more than I used to get done in a 50–70-hour week.
I wrote an article on how I approach this:
The bullet points are:
1. Don't work when you're not working. Turn off notifications on your phone, don't check email at dinner, etc.
2. Group tasks into context-specific work. Keeping a flow state is critical for high-impact work.
3. Insert breaks to keep you focused and fresh. Having a time limit and a short recharge is not optional if you want to remain productive for longer than a few hours at a time.
4. Plan. Without taking time to plan, all the good habits in the world don't do much good.
I coach several entrepreneurs on exactly this sort of time management and productivity enhancement, and I'd be happy to help you with a specific plan to suit your routine. Schedule a 15-minute call with me and we'll make sure both your business and your children get plenty of your time and attention.
Move/Keep your business at home.
Invite them to join.
Bounce ideas off with them.
Learn from their games.
Give them cuddles.
Well, your new business is also your "child". Unfortunately, there is no magic solution to this. Your flesh and blood child will have to take a back seat to your business "child" if your business is going to be successful. You have to tell your flesh and blood child that you have to "work". The kid will understand. Just make sure you schedule time to do things with your child on your day/days off. If something REALLY important comes up with work , just say " I'm sorry, I have to work , but we will do _______ ( whatever) tomorrow . ( or whenever you have time ). You have to rationalize, do you want to build a business and build security and income for your child by spending time on the business " child", or risk business failure and financial ruin by focusing on the flesh and blood child and allowing the business "child" to be second. Everything is a trade off . Spend high quality time with your flesh and blood child, and when they are more mature they will appreciate that you worked so hard to give them a good life.
I run a digital agency and a startup at the same time. I have a two year old and his little brother is on the way.
My way to do it is to set limits. I try to make a hard stop by 5pm, head home and be with my son and wife. I don't schedule any meetings after that until the next day after I drop him off at school.
Remember your calendar and to-do list is as busy as you let it be.
This is a fantastic question and one I'm actually living through as I type this. My son was born two months ago.
I'm currently too far down the road of an entirely new career and life path to turn back, although not so far down the road that the income I left behind hasn't been replaced by the income I'm pursuing. I'm pursing the new income by starting a new company as well.
It's been hard and that's the truth. That said, it's been rewarding as well. I have to remind myself how rewarding it is by thinking about how fortunate I am for things like going to doctors appointments with my son and wife, just being able to take a 30 minute break and play with my son, etc.
So, to answer your question, here are a few things that are helping -
1 - Setting very clear boundaries in my day. When I'm working I'm working. When I'm not working, I'm not working. This includes putting the phone away, in a drawer, out of sight, when I'm not working.
2 - Set aside time for work and family. Maintain the clear boundaries. Communicate these times to my wife, so she knows what to expect in advance.
3 - Go somewhere physically separate when I'm working. I'm still working from home, in an NYC apartment. Fortunately the apartment has a comfortable common area for me to use. I go there when I work. Making the separation clear and obvious helps avoid frustrations that me or my wife may experience, by me not being fully present with them when I am physically present.
4 - Finally, set my work priorities each day. Fortunately, I set up a system a while ago that helps me be more productive and reduce my stress each day, by setting 3-6 priorities, first thing every morning.
This has been a life-saver since my son was born. First, it helps me focus back on what's important throughout the day, as I inevitably get pulled away unexpectedly during the day.
Second, it forces me set realistic expectations as to what I can really get done, rather than set unrealistic expectations I can never meet, which would only leave me in a place of frustration, that would inevitably carry over into my personal life.
Setting these priorities helps me remember that I am actually getting the important stuff for work done, while balancing the family responsibilities and enjoyment!
Good luck and always happy to discuss further on a call!
1. If you have clients you should provide guidelines on how you operate so they are aware of your availability.
2. You should let team members know that you will be working off-hours in order to accommodate your family. I have team members who have newborns and we have a schedule that has been set to accommodate their parental duties.
3. Do work when your son is asleep or when your wife takes him to a preschool program or what have you.
Hi! I've been looking after my kids since they were born, and have been working in my own company since that time. It's so great that you feel so positive amazed about your son and so engaged with your new company, there are both such a high-minded state. I think it's very important to have in mind that in most cases, the important thing is not the amount of time spent (your son or your company) , but the quality of time. Many times, time management and planning is the solution to those fears. Also, enjoy every single moment is directly related to the life balance needed to succeed both as a parent and as a businessman / woman. Please don't hesitate to express yourself or ask for help in planning or advise! Best! Ana
A few things can make your life easier like doing practical things like cooking on the weekends, putting your phone away when you're with your kids, and if they're old enough, let them see how you work.
Most importantly, don't feel guilty about not spending "enough" time with them, and look after you first. I just published a quick & fun ebook on this and it sounds like this is the perfect time for you! Search "Unfussy Mom" on Amazon.
Remember, you don't need to be the BEST parent in the world to your kids, just be their parent.
As the founder of a health tech startup and mother to 2 teen boys, I have lived this every day for the last three years. All the experts have provided excellent tips on time management and creating boundaries. I will echo that being strictly disciplined with time management is very important along with the more difficult task of making sure that every task is one that moves the needle and not just busy work. From one parent to another, let me assure you that you will make mistakes and will miss important events in your son's life. But running a startup can allow you to spend more quality time with your child, than working a traditional job. Make a decision now on your 90 day short term goals and over all 6 month goals. You will have to revise repeatedly. Never beat yourself up. Look at each day as an opportunity to do a little better. Take care of yourself. If you don't take care of your self, you will not be able to run your startup or take care of your kids. Enlist help from your partner or friends. Part of being a CEO is building a team and that includes people who can help with home and family obligations. If you are passionate about your startup and your family, you will find a way to achieve what is really important to you with respect to each. Finally, don't listen to the negative voices or well meaning advice from friends & family. Take expert advice with a grain of salt. Only you know yourself and your situation. The greatest advice comes from within yourself. Good Luck!
The first thing to do is to not think about it in terms of 'balancing' your life, but 'integrating' it. Putting the challenge of time with your son and with your business as a balancing act inherently sets up conflict between the two. It may sound like semantics, but thinking of your situation as integrating your various time commitments will change the way you look at this 'balancing' act.
In my 20-year experience in startups, I've always put family first and have never regretted it. Companies come and go ... you can always build another one. You can't create more time with your son.
You will likely lose potential clients/customers, but I'm sure you won't regret putting your son first. The clients or customers that do stick with you and respect your priorities are likely going to be your strongest clients and more likely to come back to you (this has been my experience).
Definitely get help and delegate if that's possible with your particular business. Good luck and enjoy the time watching your son grow.
Easy! Be super organised; your calendar has just become your best friend; keep your meetings, confcalls short and to the point.
...Here is the catch, easier said then done ;-)
Somebody talking from personal experience
Congratulations on the success of your company! I'm the father of a 2-year-old boy who has to juggle being a Dad with the demands of a growing Internet-based business myself, so this is an area I deal with on a daily basis.
It helps to get real clear about what's most important. During the first 6 months of being a Dad, my stress levels were through the roof because I simultaneously felt like I couldn't give my son all of the attention he needed, and I also felt like I was falling short of what my clients expected. We live in a culture that says you can have it all, but it's not possible to give both parenthood and entrepreneurship 100% without coming apart at the seams. For me, it meant deciding that I'm a father first and foremost. Anything I do professionally is to support being a father, and if a situation or opportunity arises that negatively impacts this role, it's off the table. No discussion. However, everyone needs to come to their own decision in this regard: if you feel like going all-in within your business is the ticket to lasting success for your family, then of course that's something you need to consider. Just be very careful (and honest) about weighing the pros and cons.
Once I committed to this perspective, organizing my day got a lot easier. For starters, I don't even check email or the phone until after I've had 1 meaningful experience with my son. It's a little ritual that centers me, and I've found it to be very helpful. Second, time management becomes all-important- gone are the days when I could just let a client call continue on endlessly because there was nothing else going on. Nowadays, I will immediately inform the person on the other end of the line of the time limit involved, and make sure to adhere to that. I've also had to get really strategic about which business development and marketing opportunities to pursue and which to let slide- again, the more picky you are, the more easily you'll be able to balance the two hats of fatherhood and entrepreneurship.
One last thing: both of these pursuits will continually humble you, because you never stop learning. It's ok to feel overwhelmed and it's ok to have moments of despair. The important thing is to remain engaged and make forward progress each day. What an amazing journey you're on- I wish you much success! If you'd like to speak further about juggling fatherhood and a growing business, do reach out.