Greetings from Singapore where I’m writing this post, at the tail end of an adventure-of-a-lifetime with my 8-year-old son. It’s fair to say that adventuring has been a life-long passion of mine, and it’s a great joy to be on the road with my little man, exploring together but also creating Legoland-inspired memories that will certainly last a lifetime.
When my Dad died, a couple of years ago now, it was the memories of shared experiences that helped me cope with the grief. Memories of the time spent with him as he worked on the land. Memories of family sing-alongs to his favorite country and western artists. And memories of family road trips. These were the stories replayed with Dad in the final days and since, as my family reflected on those happy times past. And this reflection reminded me how crucial it is to create such shared experiences with those closest to you.
For all the talk of quality time, nothing replaces real time. That’s why I took a good hard look at the way I was spending my time, and the way I was working, and quite frankly, the squeeze on family time. And then I made changes. Big changes.
My workload now skews towards the four ten-week Australian school terms, bookended with much lighter loads during school holidays. The latter time is shared with my son, either on our farm or on special getaways like this one, spending real time and creating real memories. Together.
Whether or not you’re a parent of school aged children, there are benefits in blocking your time to align with your own personal priorities. Research shows time blocks can improve focus, improve productivity and relieve burnout.
And even if don’t choose to be your own boss, there’s nothing preventing you from negotiating a similar methodology to your own work life balance: blocks of heavier work load (and longer hours), interspersed with periods of lighter load.
Back when I shifted to my 40-week work life, my son was in his first year of school and I thought it would be impossibly difficult to achieve. That’s really code for: I was worried about losing business as a result. In reality, it hasn’t been an issue at all and my clients would never even know if I didn’t tell them (and as a rule I choose not to disclose).
Rather, it was simple: I proactively offered appointment times and planned new projects throughout the school terms, and nine times out of ten, that works just fine. In the few cases where bookings or meetings are specifically requested during school holidays, I have the flexibility (and the tools) to accommodate remote meetings almost any time, and can always be present for engagements or face-to-face meetings if the business case stacks up.
I can’t say for sure, but I reckon even when our school years are done and dusted, I’ll probably stick with this model for the breathing and thinking space it affords.
If you need help in facing up to your own priorities, creating more balance, or nailing a goal you want to accomplish, I’d love to help and can tailor a coaching option to your needs.
If you have team members who are struggling with the juggle, I’d love to help them too with a brownbag working lunchtime presentation or workshop.
Yours, in service,