Making the Most of Family Time

Hardly anyone has not heard (or used) the phrase “too many things, so little time”. It does happen that we all seem to become overwhelmed with the countless tasks at hand, yet we know we cannot get completely swept away because we have our family to attend to, come what may.

The first thing that we all need to understand is that we cannot always control time. Structure is always good, but everyone knows that things won’t always go as planned. The secret to successfully running a business while staying in quality touch with your family is to accept the uncontrollable and manage one’s time without added and unneeded stress. Below are just five of possibly many more tips on how to maximize family time despite hectic work schedules.

Be THERE. Remember that it does not matter how much time we spend with our family if that time is likewise spent being preoccupied. Work worries, mobile gadgets, take-home work are some examples of preoccupation that removes you from being with your family. Your family will certainly notice when you are fully with them and not on the phone, constantly checking email, or sulking over things that are going wrong in the office. Be present. And pay attention.

Give your To Do list a makeover. Categorize your To Do’s into three: Don’t, Delegate, and Do. Go over all your tasks and, for each, ask yourself “what happens if I don’t do this?” Tasks listed out of guilt or habit get moved to the Don’t section. If someone else can do the task, list them under the Delegate section. For the tasks left in the Do section, add icons like a smiley (for the things you enjoy doing), a dollar sign (for things that make or save you money), and a clock (for tasks that will save time). This is a fun way to get reminded of why it matters to get these things done.

Similarly, think about what you’re doing and why. Reflect on whether the decisions you generally make are for reasons of love or fear. In example, overly obsessing over household chores might be because you fear judgment from friends or neighbors that your house is not perfect. Or do you spend very long hours in the office for fear that your colleagues will think that you aren’t working hard enough if you don’t. On the other hand, decisions made out of love (like leaving work early and easing off on the stringent household chores rule book to spend more time with your family) are to be kept. And multiplied whenever possible.

Involve the kids. Speaking of household chores, perhaps you can involve the children as you and your spouse get down to them. Of course you will be able to fold the laundry or set the table a lot faster than a five year old could, but including them is added bonding time and valuable teachable moments. This way, you not only get to spend some quality time with the kids, but you have also made contributions to their confidence and independence banks.

Make your job work for you. Increasing productivity at work makes for more relaxed time with family. Check if your company could allow you to arrive earlier (or later) at the office or can let you work from home for like a day in each week to reduce the commute. If business travel is taking too taxing, suggest solutions, such as alternating travel with other coworkers or participating via conference calls or Skype. And every time you go into any meeting, recap and clarify your next steps before the end as doing so will certainly help reduce follow-up emails.

And when things get too rough and you just can’t seem to squeeze in time for the family, you can always show them you care even when you’re not there. Children love surprises, and spouses are not very different in that respect. Write them a note, tape it on the fridge door or slide it into their lunchboxes. Order flowers to be delivered for no reason. It’s always the thought that counts, and your family will surely appreciate and understand that they are always in your thoughts.