Joni Lien started SupperWorks with a very simple premise: to give families a little more “together time” in an increasingly busy world.
What she didn’t realize? While she was helping her customers establish a better work-life balance, she was sacrificing her own. She remembered lying in bed, being so tired, mentally and physically exhausted. “My hands were bleeding from all the handwashing and chopping during the day.”
But it doesn’t need to be that way, she said during December’s Lessons from Leaders event, that featured advice from a panel of local business owners:
- Paul Radkowski, CEO of Life Recovery Program
- Joni Lien, Co-Founder & CEO of SupperWorks
- Michelle Shemilt, Founder of NUMI
- Rick Jamieson, President & CEO of ABS Friction
- Donna Litt, Co-Founder & COO of Kiite Inc.
This quarter’s topic: is work-life balance a myth? It turns out, it’s not—it just means different things to different people. And there are lots of strategies and skills you can develop to inject your particular version of balance into your schedule.
Here are a few tips from the experts:
Top up your “Life accounts”
Think about your bank account. The lower the balance, the higher your stress. “What about your life accounts? Physically, mentally, socially, spiritually?” asked Radkowski. The same thing applies.
“The whole idea is keeping those accounts topped up. It’s about taking a break before we break.”
Get the family involved
Lien turned work into an opportunity for more family time. “I got my kids working in the store. I got my husband working in the store. I got my family out delivering flyers with me,” she said.
That’s the setting Litt grew up in. With entrepreneurial parents like Lien, she appreciated the hours spent helping out, stuffing envelopes and licking stamps. “Growing up in that environment certainly primed me for a life of work and gave me the eyes to see opportunity where others might not,” she said.
Hire smart and delegate
It’s impossible to do everything yourself, shared Shemilt – especially the stuff you don’t like to do. “I’m not a small-details, organize-a-calendar type of person. I hate that kind of stuff. But there are people who thrive off of that type of work,” she said. That’s why she puts a lot of effort into balancing skills and passions in her employees and hiring to fill gaps in her own skillset.
Find mentors and peers
Jamieson counts himself lucky to have strong mentor and peer support in his life through the Entrepreneurs’ Organization and the Young Presidents’ Organization, groups that help entrepreneurs learn and grow from each others’ experiences.
“If you have a peer group who you can talk to that are also at your level, a real peer, someone who is doing what you’re doing,” he said, “it’s another form of counselling.”
Live your best life
For Litt, balance is less about parceling out work and life responsibilities separately. Rather, they both dynamically interact in the decisions she makes. “I ask, what can I do with the information that I have at hand and the resources that I have available to me to make the best possible decision?”
Weighing those answers alongside her competing priorities helps her take action and move on. “At the end of the day, we want to live without regrets. We don’t want to miss those opportunities,” she said.