A New School Year, A New Set of Worries

September brings a new school year, new schools and the need for working Parents to adjust their own lifestyles and their “help” arrangements (childcare, household and so forth). As businesses double their efforts to profitably grow, and demand more involvement from their key people so understanding the value of your time, the compromises you need to make, the good judgement you need to show and the priorities you set becomes even more critical. Yet I look at many friends and acquaintances, successful executives and managers, and all I see is “fear”. Fear, expressed inwardly, as a loss of control and outwardly, as panic, frustration and high levels of tension in personal relationships. (“The boss is being unreasonable”, “They have no understanding of my life”, “I feel guilty about the impact on my kid(s) welfare” and so on)

The circumstances are very similar: Parents fretting over a change of class or school environment for their darling child, an inability to hire and fund costly childcare, an inability to better organise and manage their time, procrastination and a reluctance to pay for help. In almost all cases, their employer or boss doesn’t want to, or expect to, get involved in the solution. They are left to fend for themselves.

Executives (Sheryl Sandberg), academics and woo-woo HR experts talk about work-life balance, as if we live on two separate planets. Sorry “work-life” balance is CRAP. You have one life, which is unique. You have a certain number of hours that you are awake and are willing to be productively deployed in support of your work, job and career and the pursuit of your personal interests. For those who are up at 7am and retire to bed at 11pm, in any given week you give yourself 112 hours to accomplish what you must or want to do. You find the answers, not in a glossy book or magazine but by

  1. Determining your priorities in each area, and physically scheduling appropriate time in your diary (an electronic calendar or a paper diary).
  2. Where there are lengthy activities, breaking them up into manageable lumps of time, working backwards from your deadline to today.
  3. Where there are significant foreseen changes in circumstances (a new job, impending birth of a child, moving home, changing school, ageing Parent, chronic ill health and so on),  setting time aside to examine the impact and physically schedule time, money and other resource to take the appropriate action.
  4. Allowing sufficient “unplanned” time in your daily and weekly diary to attend to unforeseen events. The concept of scheduling “back-to-back” meetings is ridiculous. No successful person can operate like for long.
  5. Holding each other (partner, spouse or boss) to account for the results you must accomplish. That is what healthy people and relationships do.
  6. Confidently outsourcing tasks and activities that neither interest you or are a productive use of your time (routine business activities, travel, childcare, household chores and errands, tickets for special events, bookkeeping, legal, tax filing, financial advice, investments and so on).
  7. Talking to someone with highly similar circumstances (preferably not a family member), who is perhaps a few years ahead of you in age and success. Ask them for their advice, and you will be amazed how constructive that help is. They may also point you to a formal or informal network of people in similar circumstances, who have been able to resolve the issue you are wrestling with.

I laugh at people with six figure plus family incomes, who spend 2 hours online trying to save $50 on an air flight. You need to be much more conscious about the value of your time. After all you can always find new ways to raise or create more money but you cannot create more time, short of stop doing things that are boring you or are a lousy use of your time.

Profitable growth in business first places a demands on individuals that they come to terms with the impact on their own lives, they apply good judgement and they take the appropriate action.    

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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