I have three children ages 4, 6 and 12. I also run three businesses, my legal practice NKS Advocates, Law Query Kenya, an online legal resource portal with an android app and an entrepreneur empowerment company plus online directory with Mpower Limited. Then, I also have a social life.
As you can imagine, it is hectic. What surprised me a lot is that the hardest task is attending to my family. The needs of the family are financially, emotionally and time consuming.
My family need to be listened to, acknowledged, praised, and identified as individuals. This, I assure you, is quite time consuming. Yet, it is extremely rewarding when the family member feels happy and loved.
The number of hugs and kisses I need to dish out per day keep on increasing. I don’t complain because, I brought my children to this world and I must take care of them. They are a priority! Still, the greatest resource they consume is time!
The effect of being a mother is that, now, my hours are spent more on the children. My businesses are really affected by this. When it comes to this balance, a woman needs to decide what is important.
To me, my family and business are important. And yes, I have friends and social obligations that are important too. So, how can I possibly manage?
Focus on important things first
I struggle with this because I usually like to get everything done.
So, nowadays, I need to balance my day according to importance and urgency. Important means tasks that leave more impact or need more personal input. Sometimes, ME time trumps everything!
Make sure your to-do list not a wishlist!
How you execute your operations or business may need to be revisited. Do you really need to have physical meeting with a client? This takes up a lot of time in travel and may disrupt (in a positive way) your day.
Reducing physical meetings and focusing on deliverables can free up some time. Many companies now have self-help options to reduce physical contact while addressing routine issues.
Technology has helped reduce disrupted time and create more time for actual quality work. This should be used optimally as it can also become a disruption in itself or distance you from your customer.
Without relinquishing responsibility, consider getting someone else to help you get things done. The domestic help can ensure homework is done so you only need to check it and sign the diary (clearly you cannot delegate this). I rely on school transport and lunches for my children. It saves me two to three hours a day.
For my businesses too, I get good help. It costs a lot but the peace of mind is worth it. Of course, I still take meetings but after putting my schedule on my phone calendar, I’m rarely double-booked. Also, I make sure my meeting locations are as near each other as possible or in a logical sequence. One of my top peeves is rushing through traffic.
What I have learnt with getting help is you can’t just instruct and wash your hands off it. There is need for supervision and direction. This requires periodic meetings and checking of all deliverables constantly. I manage this through emails and phone calls. I have all my office emails transferred to the email on my phone so that I don’t miss anything.
One thing I don’t delegate is strategic planning, and money matters! Also, when there is a crisis you need to show up!
Have good systems in place
Having standard systems and templates helps to manage quality control and brand equity. The customer satisfaction should be the same whether you are serving directly or through your staff.
The system should be linked to your phone or home computer so that you can check on things at any moment. I have installed an internet based management system in one business, and I’m still trying it out.
Talk to people who are successful in your field and get enormous insight. In particular, I realize that they have managed the same challenges I have and succeeded. It is amazing how mentors are ready to answer questions and give practical and workable tips. I used to stumble in the dark until I got a mentor who put on the lights for me.
Talk to peers (other entrepreneurs) who can share tips or information on opportunities and are more frequently available. Take thirty minutes out of your day and have coffee with your peers. You’ll always leave re-energized, not just from the coffee but from having learnt something new. Of course, I don’t mean idle chat sessions, that’s for your ME time!
Learning, networking and growing are key for any progress and success. You cannot know everything, there are new models and concepts coming out every day. Take some time to know current trends and news affecting your industry. Same applies to bringing up children, keep abreast with latest threats and trends.
When you have knowledge of what you are doing, it becomes easy and you can teach someone else. An entrepreneur must have knowledge on key aspects of the business human resource, operations, procurement, customer care, marketing, finance and strategic planning.
Don’t have time to attend conferences and seminars (this is highly recommended due to the diversity of participants)? No problem, the internet is your university. There are loads of excellent programs online.
I personally love TED Talks, webinars, and online courses e.g. Alison, Coursera and EdEx. These are free resources that can build capacity and keep you abreast with latest trends.
Schedule ME time to re-energize and refresh. A tired mind is worse than a tired body. I refresh through service clubs, socializing, pampering/exercise, travelling, reading and quiet time. Schedule this and make sure it’s in your list of Things to Do!
To have it all, the key thing is, “First things First, Important things First”. It doesn’t have to be either/or. You can have a life, a family and a business!