When people meet me through my work, they first see an entrepreneur running a brick and mortar business with 5 locations and 70 employees. (I run a chain of barre + yoga studios that’s ever-expanding!) The most important part for me is time management!
When they get to know me better and find out that I also have two kids, a loving partner, and a healthy obsession with travel, burlesque, and piano bars, I get asked the same question over and over:
“How do you do it all?”
For those of us with big creative dreams and professional ambitions, can we really show up fully in our careers AND be present in our personal lives too?
The truest answer is that it depends.
We’re not all living the same experience, with similar levels of emotional, financial, and logistical support. It’d be ridiculous of me to claim that the opportunities in my life today are relatively the same as when I was sleeping in dumpsters as a teenager, and barely scraping together grocery money – they’re definitely not.
What I know for sure is that in addition to embracing an “I can figure this out” attitude, working within the parameters of our unique circumstance, we have to take a real, honest look at how we’re managing our time.
The person who has the most say in how you balance your life and your career is YOU.
If your heart is practically screaming, “Yes! I want both! But how?!”, here are 3 changes that will make a world of difference:
1. Practice saying “No, but how about…”
To share your energy between family, work, and personal time, “no” has to become your best friend. Thankfully, the internet is full of articles about the importance of setting healthy boundaries and owning your “no”. I’m all for it.
But sometimes, launching into a straight-up “no” doesn’t quite fit the moment. In that case, here’s a magic phrase to remember: “No, but how about…”
Here’s how it works…
Let’s say someone from my daughter’s school emails me to say: “Could you volunteer at the silent auction fundraiser? We need a few parents to help out on Thursday night.”
I could respond by saying: “I’m not available to volunteer this time around, but I’d love to contribute in a different way. How about if I donate a pack of barre & yoga classes for the auction?”
I’m saying “no” but still offering support, without giving up the 3-ish hours that’d be required to drive there, volunteer, chit chat with the other parents, and then drive back.
And a bonus? People tend to get really excited when you take initiative and offer a fresh, unexpected form of assistance.
And this isn’t just for email requests for your time. You can apply this approach to any type of ask, including conversations with friends, and situations at home with your partner or kids.
2. Strengthen your delegation muscle.
I’ve always been a fiercely independent person. I grew up feeling like I needed to handle everything by myself, and after becoming a single mother as a teenager, taking total responsibility for every little task was all I knew.
I’m grateful for the self-reliance and work ethic that my childhood instilled, but the flip side of all that independence was that I had massive resistance to the mere suggestion of delegation.
And then I stumbled enough times to realize that if you want to make a significant impact on the world (and being an awesome parent does exactly that), you can’t do it alone.
You simply can’t carry the full workload by yourself and micro-manage every detail. You need to get other people involved – whether we’re talking about a work project or your kids’ wellbeing.
So start with one small thing. What do you need to ask for help with? There’s probably already someone in your life you can ask for support, or check out TaskRabbit.com. Hiring professional help is more affordable than you think.
The more I delegate (both in my professional life and personal life), the happier and more successful I’ve become.
3. Ditch “Ehh” items.
An “ehh” is a to-do that you’ve been procrastinating on for weeks, months (even years), telling yourself that it really matters and has to happen, when in actuality… Deep down, you’re pretty “ehh” about it.
Case in point: When my partner and I moved in together, I vowed, “I’m going to renovate the condo.” New paint. New furniture. New vibe.
But it never happened. Year after year, my redecorating promises kept going unfulfilled. Why?
I was focused on being an engaged mom and partner, while also spending a ton of time on fun hobbies like burlesque dancing and blogging. And then I started the process of opening the first Barre & Soul studio, and life got even busier.
The most LIBERATING moment happened when I realized: “I honestly don’t care! This is just not that important to me. This is an “Ehh” for me, not a “Hell yes!”
So I scratched “Operation Condo Revamp” off my list and stopped putting pressure on myself to morph into a domestic goddess and create a magazine-worthy home. That kind of stuff didn’t really matter to me or my partner, so… DONE.
I gave myself permission to delete anything on my to-do list that was an “Ehh” so I could focus on the things that truly mattered to me. To this day, I periodically do a big picture scan of the projects and priorities in my business and family life, and happily scratch off all the “Ehh” items.
It’s not possible to have it all. It IS possible to own your life and your choices.
Take ownership of your time and focus it where it matters most.
Make the best of your situation, whether circumstances are super convenient or less than ideal.
The dreams in your heart aren’t stalled behind someone else’s permission, and there’s no simple formula that perfectly fits every person, in every corner of the globe.
- With whatever resources you have (or don’t), you can still take powerful action.
- With whatever support you have (or don’t), you can still create momentum.
With your priorities solidly in place, your version of the personal life + career combo is up to you.
Additional articles you might also like:
- 5 Time Management Tips For Busy Entrepreneurs
- 6 Time-Saving Techniques To Help Working Moms Build Their Brand