This post, written by James Cowan, originally appeared on ProfitGuide and has been republished with permission.
There’s no separation between work and life. Here’s how some successful female entrepreneurs manage both. The idea of finding “work-life” balance is something that torments many entrepreneurs. How can you build a successful business, while not neglecting your family?
At the PROFIT/Chatelaine W100 Idea Exchange, three entrepreneurs shared their best time management tips: Noemie Dupuy, the co-CEO of Budge Studios, an app developer;Stephanie Perry, the President of restaurant equipment wholesaler Permul; and Victoria Sopik, the CEO of Kids and Company, a childcare provider.
Sopik raised eight children while building her business, while Perry wrestles with twins and Dupuy darts out of the office at 5:30 p.m. each day to get her kids from daycare. What was their first piece or advice? Business people should stop thinking of “work-life balance” as a teeter-totter, where commitments can pitch too far in one direction or the other.
“Personally, I think we’re past that,” says Perry. “I started looking at it as a stew, a soup or a recipe. It’s not either work or home. You can adjust as you go. So, some days, I leave more of the work to others. Some days, I’m all in at work.” Here are five other ways to manage your time, from those who have mastered the skill:
1. Don’t build divisions Many people try to focus only on their professional responsibilities at the office and their family responsibilities at home. But having a fluid boundary makes life easier.
“I don’t separate—I don’t think I even want to separate,” says Sopik. “I had six boys who played hockey and football and rugby and I would try to go watch their games. But if they weren’t actually on the field, I was sending emails. So I was there, and they’d know I was there, but I was getting work done.”
READ: There’s no Such Thing as Work-Life Balance »
2. Find technology that helps Perry and her husband use an app called “Nozbe,” which enables them to share task lists, so they know what needs to get done. “You can create a grocery list, or a list of things that need to be bought at Home Depot, and then when you’re in that place, you know what needs to get done. It cuts out a lot of calling back and forth.”
READ: The Truth About Work-Life Balance »
3. Cut the fat out of your day Some parts of your days—like commuting—add nothing to your productivity. Perry faces an hour-and-a-half drive when she goes into the office, so she only makes the trek on two or three days each week. “You get certain things done when you go into the office and sometimes you get more done by yourself,” she says.
Similarly, Dupuy refuses to hold meetings that take an hour to make a simple decision. “I love 15 minute meetings. I have senior people who come to me and say ‘here’s the situation, what should we do?’ And then we make a decision right away. I don’t over analyze things.”
She adds: “I can see all sorts of things that I do that bring no value, or almost no value to the company. So I always focus on the 80% that really matters. Yes, if I worked 100 hours per week, it would bring more to the company. But it wouldn’t be double.”
READ: Why You Should Tailor Your Business to Your Lifestyle »
4. Figure out what’s non-negotiable in your life Founding your own business means tailoring your career to your lifestyle. “Even before I had kids, I didn’t want to work weekends,” says Dupuy, so she’s structure her business to make her happy. “I organize my life and delegate certain tasks, so I can have the lifestyle that I want. That means there are certain things that I can’t do, because I don’t want to be at work at 10 o’clock at night.”
And while some customers—and even employees—might complain, Dupuy says it helps to be transparent about your motivation. “I get pushback all the time. But I have no issue saying ‘No.’ I says the real reasons: ‘This meeting has to stop. I have to go pick up my kids.’ I don’t want to feel guilty about it.”
READ: Why You Should Let Working Moms Leave Early »
5. Learn to say “No” at home too Parents feel an obligation to attend every piano recital and football game. But you can pick your family priorities, not just your work ones, says Sopik. “People say ‘Where do you take your kids everywhere they want to go?’ But it never crossed my mind that I wanted to take them all those places. I had a thing—I would go to one sporting event, per child, per season. So they would carpool or my husband would take them. I didn’t feel like I had to go to every practice, every game.”
More from the 2014 W100 Idea Exchange:
How do you manage to have both a company and a family? What strategies and tools do you use to balance work and home responsibilities? Let us know using the comments below.