Q: My first child was born last year, and I’m finding it difficult to maintain a work-life balance. As a father yourself, how have you managed? – Daniel
Congratulations on becoming a father! Raising a child is the most wonderful experience you can have, and also the most important responsibility. Over three decades of fatherhood I have tried to put everything toward being a good dad – I value this over and above any professional success.
When my two children, Holly and Sam, were growing up, my wife, Joan, focused her time mostly on raising the kids, and I worked from home – at first from our houseboat, which we moored on a canal in London’s Little Venice neighbourhood, and now from my hammock on Necker Island in the Caribbean.
I also took my family along on work trips whenever possible, so I was often on the spot to deal with minor mishaps. We shared many joyous moments.
If you share in your kids’ lives and give them a chance to take part in yours, you will have a much better relationship with them, and you will waste far less energy worrying about what they are doing. One of the great things I learned from my children was that I was a better parent when I was also their friend.
When they needed guidance or discipline, I’d recall my own youthful misadventures and explain how I resolved those problems and what I learned from them. I carried over that sort of sharing, understanding and energy to my work life, and I believe that it made me a better manager.
If you are struggling to juggle your home life with your career commitments, both can suffer. Part of the solution may be to treat time with your family as a priority. When you’re facing an avalanche of appointments, book time to spend with your family – put it in your work diary.
You will also need to prepare your colleagues for those times when an emergency will come up at home and you’ll need to drop everything to deal with it, because this is almost certain to happen.
But rather than thinking of these two aspects of your life as antagonistic, why not combine them? As I’ve often said, I don’t divide work and play: It’s all living.
For the first 10 years or more, you may need to work different hours or perhaps you simply won’t be able to commute to the office quite as often, but these days, that’s not an obstacle. Flexible hours enabled by technology can allow parents to perform well at their jobs and take care of young children at the same time.
If you’re an employee, talk with your boss about how working from home could boost your productivity, remembering to share some specific examples of how your work will improve.
If you run a business, consider investing in technology that will allow you and your staff to work flexible hours – your investment will pay dividends in the long run. You will all be less stressed by long commutes and less discouraged about missing those special moments, from first steps to first words, so you will have more space to think creatively.
We have recently introduced a new solution at Virgin that allows people to access their desktop computers on any device, from any location. You may even find that it saves you money because fewer people are in the office and can share desks (a practice known as “hot desking”). Overall, this is about giving people options.
But if you opt to work from home more often, make sure that you don’t become a slave to technology – manage your phone, don’t let it manage you. I get through emails, check social media and answer calls in batches, switching on the necessary devices to deal with those things that need my attention and then switching them off again to focus on other matters.
Just as you’ll help your kids with their homework, you may find that they can take part in yours. Of course, this doesn’t apply to everyone, but discussing your work with them can be a good way to spend time together and can help you see problems from a new perspective.
Some of my best ideas came from conversations with Holly and Sam. I’m very fortunate, in that Holly now works with us at Virgin on health issues as a special projects manager, and we’ve collaborated with Sam on various creative projects, like his diary about his Arctic travels.
However you decide to resolve your situation, I think you’ll find that your supervisors and colleagues will be much more understanding of your needs than you might expect. As more women have entered the workforce in recent decades, one of the benefits has been that people have become much more aware of the importance of fathers – and more supportive of efforts to be a great dad.
Having The Time Of Your Life
How can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?
Being an entrepreneur is a constant balancing act between the demands of your business needs and your personal life. The key to a work/life balance that ensures you achieving your work and personal goals for the year ahead, is effective time management.
Time is our greatest resource and there are many ways in which to maximise your ability to manage this precious commodity. But how can you avoid a To-Do list that never gets ticked off by the end of the week? Or maximise the number of hours you work on critical projects, to achieve your career goals? And why is it important to take time out?
Unfortunately, time does equal money
In the modern workplace and in most businesses, time is synonymous with money. Whether you bill by the hour, or bake by the truckload, time is essential in running a successful career and business. Just think of how important time is in the service industry, and how time influences purchasing decisions. Think of all the drive-through fast food chains in a city – all there to save time. Because time is indeed money, it is critical to prioritise your time effectively. Keep in mind your most pressing deadlines, plan ahead and prioritise clients and customers effectively.
Me-time with a twist
Self-management impacts on your personal effectiveness and includes managing yourself and your time, being responsible for your achievements and being accountable for your results and successes. In business, if you prioritise a company’s time more efficiently, it can lead to improved customer service, improved delivery, increased profits, and increased market shares.
Imagine what it could do for you if you made the mind shift to prioritise your time and self-regulate your time daily?
Visualise that empty inbox
Start by removing thoughts of procrastination and imagine yourself as a “doer.” Think of the benefits of becoming a doer. What would our work life be like if we organised our tasks in order of importance, and not in order of enjoyment? What would it feel like to be thought of as someone who “got things done” and was “reliable?” How would we handle our paperwork? Imagine having an empty in-tray.
Critically, managing your time and self-regulating the hours, minutes and seconds in a work day will free up time for the people that matter in your life. Go watch that ballet recital or cricket game you never have time for. Have a coffee with a fellow entrepreneur and see how these small acts of rewarding you for time well spent, with energise you in your daily tasks.
Ditch the time wasters
A Time Waster is anything (or anyone) that doesn’t contribute to your daily goals or your To-Do List. Many of these time wasters have become a natural part of our work style. Now is the time to change – to reverse the process. It will take time and effort to get rid of time-wasting habits. Research shows that it takes approximately 21 days to change a habit.
For example, at first, we will have to make a conscious effort to keep our meetings on track. If things are dragging on, we need to stand up and indicate that the meeting is over (if you are running it), or to be excused (if your input is no longer required). This applies to all the time-wasting habits we have acquired.
It may be uncomfortable at first to tell a colleague that you are busy and unable to chat – but as you get used to being assertive and as they get accustomed to the fact that you are not always available – then it will become easier.
More tips to deal with time wasters
- Fix a time for paperwork and admin;
- Have clear daily objectives;
- Delegate work as needed;
- Group your telephone calls;
- Be assertive with unannounced visitors.
The Secret To Living A Balanced Life As A CEO? Pick A Strong Second In Command
The key is to find a partner who is strong in areas where you are weak.
Entrepreneurs are not known for having work-life balance. In my experience, trying to find balance as a start-up founder is like looking for a real-life unicorn. If you’re looking to create something that is disrupting an industry, the path isn’t going to be easy.
Building out a new idea practically guarantees imbalance. This is especially true in the early stages of a start-up. Prior to joining LegalZoom, I would work 100 hours a week. It was a fast-paced start-up world. I had to make certain sacrifices. For example, I chose not to have a family right away, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to be the present father I wanted to be. However, I was prepared to make those decisions. I believed in the work I was doing, and I knew it was going to take blood, sweat and tears.
So, what’s my advice to entrepreneurs on achieving balance? First, grow the company. Even in a company of 25 people, the burden of leadership generally falls on one person. It can take upwards of 100 people to really notice a shift in leadership. But, second, and most importantly, look for a co-partner that is just as strong as you are.
The one-two punch
Usually, when companies are founded, there is one individual who is celebrated. We forget there’s almost always another person behind the scenes helping to call the shots. Oftentimes, that person doesn’t want to share the spotlight. He or she is happy to have a non-public facing role and just want to get the work done.
We tend to talk about the visionaries, but there has to be a person in the company who helps turn that vision into reality. We all know Walt Disney, and maybe even the previous longtime CEO Michael Eisner, but what about Frank Wells? As the president and COO alongside Eisner, Wells helped lead the company through a 10-year period of unprecedented growth. Steve Jobs will forever be remembered as the visionary behind Apple, but Steve Wozniak provided the necessary engineering expertise to drive the company forward. Even today, many believe Elon Musk needs a strong second-in-command to help run Tesla.
I call this dynamic the “one-two punch” in leadership. As a CEO, you have to think critically about your second-in-command – whether it’s the COO, CTO or CFO.
We all want to be able to spend our time doing the things at which we excel. Excellence is what drives the company forward. At LegalZoom, I’ve been able to spend 80 percent of my working hours on tasks that leverage my strengths. The only way that I can do that is by having a partner who is strong in areas I may be weaker. In a strong one-two punch combination, both of us are spending 80 percent of our time on our strengths. The key is that those strengths don’t overlap.
How to find a great co-captain
The longer you wait to find your “two,” or if you make a mistake in selecting that person, you set yourself up for trouble. How do you find a second-in-command that can help you lead your company to success? It may seem obvious, but the first key is to understand where your weaknesses lie. It is essential that your co-leader make up for the skills that you lack, and vice versa.
It’s important to consider a person’s background as well, but don’t be afraid to look beyond the resume. I’ve judged candidates before based on raw talent and a gut feeling on their potential. Sometimes the best person for the role doesn’t necessarily have the strongest resume. Instead, he or she has a high level of motivation and a killer work ethic. These are the individuals that never hear “no.” They look for solutions rather than just identifying issues – and they are critical in the startup world.
Ultimately, while you bring different skill sets and career aspirations to the table, you and your co-partner must connect at a collegial level. At the end of the day, you have to appreciate what the other does. You have to share a common vision and mission.
Finding balance, after all
Any CEO with some semblance of balance in their life owes it to the small army of individuals behind them helping to make it happen. While you should prepare for imbalance early in your career and understand the sacrifices it takes to start a company, with the right “two,” you’ll have the support needed to succeed.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Travel At The Touch Of A Button
The revolutionary Travelit app has been developed for the global marketplace to meet your business travel needs.
Travelit has launched an easy-to-use mobile app that simplifies the trip approval process, provides a full trip itinerary and assists in management of travel expenses.
“The app is designed in South Africa, for the African and global marketplace,” says Wayne Muirhead Chief Sales Officer at Travelit. “We have developed the app locally with our own developers, and opted not to use a white labelling solution.”
The app interface enables the requirements of travellers, approvers, users, as well as finance and procurement role players to be met so each trip is seamlessly planned and executed.
Stress-free financial administration
“Expense management is an integral part of the complete travel cost; businesses want to understand their complete travel bill,” says Wayne. This is why the app incorporates features that facilitate:
- Capturing of photographs of receipts real-time
- Immediate allocation of expenses to the correct description
- Uploading expenses for workflow approval
- Attachment of an expense to a travel trip, or generating a non-travel related expense.
Simplified trip approval process
In addition, approvers’ features enable simple visibility into the trip’s cost and details:
- Approval of booking requests
- Trip confirmation once trip has been successfully approved
- Managing alerts — approval notifications, pre-trip notification as well as travel notifications
- Out of office activation for approvers.
Trip management made easy
With Travelit’s new app, travellers have the ability to update, create new profiles directly from their phones and update and store all their information, including:
- Updating of profile details
- Personal information
- Visas, passports, meal types, seating preferences
- Loyalty programmes.
As a traveller, when you are travelling, you require information, updates and access to your travel documentation in real time. The Trip Manager function provides you with this through the following functions:
- View current, pending and past trips
- Trip itinerary information
- View trips that are awaiting approval
- View supplier vouchers
- Locate properties via the Map option
- Boarding passes are available
- Real-time alerts to travellers.
Related: Save Up To 25% On Your Travel Costs
“We have done a soft launch with the app and offered it to strategic users and clients within our ecosystem,” says Wayne. These corporates have enjoyed the functions within the app, such as:
- Real time information for the traveller (itineraries, vouchers, boarding passes)
- Approval notifications and the approval capability
- Contact information for the consultants after-hours, and assistance
- Access to the traveller profile to ensure their data is updated and correct
- Check-in to the airline.
The Travelit app is available in the Google Play Store and iOS Store. Travelit will make monthly app releases by offering users ongoing functionality and features.
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