I’ve been on point recently with really tracking my time. Not only tracking my time but understanding that there is an associated value to that time, and therefore I put a value on almost all work related actions I do.
That networking event, what is it costing me in time?
The travel to the city centre for a planning meeting – can it save me time by inviting the attendees to a more mutual location?
Time and the ability to choose.
But it isn’t just the cost value that I associate to my time, it’s also the choice I place on myself by choosing that activity over something else; namely, the family! When I started out in business, I simply had to get the work in. I had to make the bills at the end of the month and therefore this became my one role, sole purpose and ultimate aim for the month.
There were elements of planning and strategic approach of course but the overarching aim here was to get busy. There’s a networking event on? I’m there. There’s a meeting to be had? Name the place. Got a spare hour? Fill it. Anyone can get busy, and get busy quickly, but it wasn’t until the end of 2018 that I realised that by saying yes, yes, yes to everything and everyone that had something remotely to do with work and getting busy, I was actually saying no to my family, no to some responsibilities at home and no to activities with the kids.
At a recent Dads in Business networking event in Sheffield,
I’d be exhausted, missing bed times, not paying attention when I was at home. I’d be brining work to home and not allowing myself the time to stop and say no. I mean really, what’s the worse that can happen if I didn’t check my emails at 8pm in an evening?! Is there really a business critical email getting sent at that time?
I think the truth is by working so relentlessly to get busy, it then became a habit and the norm for me to be constantly on and constantly working.
How long does it take to form a new habit?
Creating new habits is something I am looking to achieve and began looking closely at my time spent at work and in business in balance with my time spent at home or with the family. In my calendar I am pleased to have boxed out Wednesday afternoons and Saturday mornings to be able to a) pick my eldest up from school and B) take him to swimming lessons on Saturday morning.
It’s not a huge amount of time and something that is easy to achieve but by actively blocking it out in my diary (Gmail calendar) I know that to not do it becomes a conscious choice and something I then have to co ordinate another solution for, without just filling my blank diary space with ‘work for works sake’.
By committing something to your diary on a regular recurring basis, it must become a conscious decision to remove it.
The value of time for Dads In Business and at work.
I wrote an article about the value of time and how I am tracking it for my work activity over on the blog.
It has helped create a more focussed approach to work and put to more productive use the activities that don’t drive new business, are not revenue-generating or are not ‘doing’ the work.
For example, in the previous 30 days of this writing, I spent 11 hours 55 minutes (6% of total 204 hours). At an hourly time cost equivalent of £50 per hour, that total about £500 investment in walking to work or meetings. How did I make this time more productive? Phone calls, audiobooks, just having some me time to plan and map out the next steps in my key business projects.
By focussing a real cash value to my time it means this space is more productive and allows for less distraction at home when I need to be present with the kids and the wife. Is it a perfect system? Nope! Is it better than just wandering about in a busy cream? Heck yes!
Finding Time To Be A Dad AND Work Life.
My aim and goal is, and will always be, to provide for the family. I want a business that helps others and allows the time and freedom to choose how to provide for the family. When I first started on my business journey, this too often wasn’t the case – I would just get busy.
Providing in more ways than one.
But my view on what providing looks like has also evolved. I can provide for the family by not been absent, making sure I box out the time needed to be a Dad and do ‘Dad stuff’. My boxing off of Wednesday afternoon school pick up and Saturday morning swimming lessons make the priority of the kids in their correct level of importance. I speak to too many business owners who prioritise work above all else as they pursue that ‘provider’ role. But I wonder how they can provide in other ways. I think a very quick win to manage a little more the work / life balance and the roles we have as Dads is to ring fence time in the diaries to do certain things, and those things then need to be actively removed from the diary rather than just filling the blank space with ‘stuff’.
- How much of your time is that activity worth?
- What would it take to replace that activity with work / business (overtime pay, contract value, networking etc)
- What is your contingency plan for that activity not happening (remember, it’s your responsibility to sort it!)
Find time to be a Dad.
I challenge us all to ringfence that time. What is your maximum amount of hours you want to work or be at work? Are you in peak season and expecting a surge in that demand? If so, when can you get the time back? We need to readdress the balance of work and home. Take small steps today. Your work and business will manage just fine with a few hours less!