After my mom cleaned up our dinner dishes and made sure my homework was done, she transformed our kitchen table into a desk where she spread out all the files and bookwork she’d brought home from her business. Some nights, she’d work until well after midnight before packing everything away so she could sleep a few hours before it was time to wake me up, make breakfast and get me off to school. I remember wondering, even at a young age, how she kept going.
For my mom, juggling the roles of entrepreneur, mother and wife was a bit of an anomaly because not many women worked outside the home back then, much less ran a business. Her conflicting roles caused her life to be hectic, harried and stressful, but today we have a name for it — we call it work/life balance, and the challenge is even greater than what my mom experienced several decades ago. Instead of bringing work home from the office, technology keeps us connected 24/7, wherever we are. When I’m on the road speaking to various groups, I inevitably get asked: “How can I build my business and have a life?” And it’s not only women who are asking the question. Men too are searching for ways to balance the demands of their careers and their personal lives.
There aren’t many people who work a traditional 40 hour work week any more. When you own your own business, it’s easy to work around the clock, seven days a week. So to achieve work/life balance, you have to set boundaries. That’s actually what my mother did. When she left her business, she switched gears and became a wife and a mother until later in the evening when all those responsibilities were tended to, then she went back to her work. She was able to do that because she wasn’t tethered to her business by technology. So today, we have to be disciplined about “tuning out.” When you’re spending time with your family, you need to be present. Going a few hours without checking your email isn’t going to make or break your business in the majority of cases.
A mother of four and the managing director at TallGrass Public Relations, Jennifer Flemming says, “I make it a rule to stay off my phone and computer when I’m with my kids.”
Speaking of staying off the phone, make sure you don’t make the mistake of texting while driving. Those who read and send text messages while driving are 23 times more likely to be in a crash. In a recent AT&T survey, 49 percent of commuters admit to texting while driving and 43 percent called it a habit. AT&T is encouraging small business owners and their employees to pledge to make a personal commitment not to text and drive. You can learn more on the att.com/itcanwait website.