Letting Go of Work-Life Balance – How to manage a business, a home, a family and your sanity…

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Choosing a business coach

Owning a business and managing the responsibilities at home can be a lot to handle...

Being an independent contractor offers a unique set of opportunities and challenges. While it grants autonomy and flexibility, it also demands self-discipline and effective time management to maintain a healthy work/life balance. So, how can you ensure you don’t overextend yourself or experience burnout as an independent contractor? Here are some strategies to help you navigate this balancing act successfully.

I've experienced the life of an independent contractor firsthand, and what I've learned is that achieving work-life balance isn't about finding a perfect equilibrium but rather establishing work-life agreements. There are times when work demands more attention, and during those periods, my husband and I support each other by dividing household responsibilities. This flexibility has been crucial in maintaining our sanity.

When my husband and I first started dating, I had lofty expectations for our time together. We were both ambitious individuals with bustling lives.  He was a self-employed event DJ, and I was working a 9-5 while also building my coaching practice. Initially, I found it irksome when he would interrupt our dinners to check his phone or respond to emails from inquiring brides and grooms, or parents planning their kid's Bar/Bat mitzvahs.  However, at that point, my business was just starting out. My phone wasn't ringing constantly, and I didn't have a barrage of clients vying for my attention.  When we got married, I took over the majority of the household chores - one, because I had the time to do it, and two, I felt it would give him the relief he needed during his downtime so we could enjoy time together.   But as my business gained momentum over time, I realized the need to establish a clear understanding of what "work/life balance" meant for us. It was essential to prevent constant disappointment and avoid dumping household responsibilities on each other.

This article isn't for everybody...

When discussing household responsibilities, some are surprised by my husband's willingness and capability to share the workload, while others lament partners who refuse to help or make chores unpleasant. If your partner avoids basic tasks like loading a dishwasher or prioritizes leisure over parenting, larger issues need addressing.

Additionally, I understand not everyone has a partner. Whether you're single or a single parent managing multiple responsibilities, I recognize the challenges you face. While my experiences may not directly mirror yours, I hope you can find parallels in the consistent principles of project and business management.

This article is intended for couples who value mutual respect and strive for equality in their partnership, seeking solutions for a more harmonious home life. Ladies, I understand the frustration of watching your partner struggle with simple tasks like folding laundry or leaving behind tiny hairs in the sink after shaving. I've experienced that simmering anger when they insist they've cleaned the sink. On the other hand, I've witnessed the stress build up on my husband's shoulders as he juggles client meetings, showings, and events, all while managing paperwork for taxes, health insurance, and troubleshooting car issues. We're both driven, goal-oriented individuals focused on our clients. The last thing we want to deal with is mundane household matters like dinner plans or trash duty. Yet, in the heat of the moment, it's easy to assign blame and become resentful. Suddenly, household responsibilities escalate into arguments about whose time is more valuable—a futile dispute that neither of us can win.

Harmony restored... Letting Go of Work-Life Balance, adopting Household Operation Procedures (HOPs)

To streamline household tasks, my husband and I have developed a standard operating procedure (SOP) that outlines the best practices for chores like washing dishes, cooking dinner, and caring for our dogs. By following this SOP, we ensure that tasks are completed efficiently and consistently. Just as we have SOPs in our businesses to optimize workflow, implementing them at home helps maintain harmony and balance in our household. After all, why shouldn't home life benefit from the same organizational approach as our professional lives?

I want to preface by saying that developing Household Operation Procedures (HOPs) is not an overnight solution ... this strategy takes time to develop, dedication to implement, and patience with a shake of grace to see through... but the process pays off in dividends.  This process also will not be successful unless everyone is onboard.  If this process is put on the shoulders of one person to develop, oversee, and manage, it will simply become another role and responsibility that is unevenly distributed and it will likely fail.

Establish Team-Agreements

First, you will need to establish a few guidelines or agreements to bring both of you onto the same page.  Here are a few suggested agreements, but feel free to add your own as needed:

  1. Our current process isn't working, or if it's working for one person, it may not be working for the other.
  2. We are not going to come to solutions or resolutions by looking at the past, finding fault with past behaviors, or placing blame.  There is no fault. There is no right or wrong.
  3. Whatever processes we agree to adapt, we will both implement.  If a process doesn't work in practice, we will not "go rogue" or fall back to our default process.  We will come to the table to talk about a revision and agree upon a new process.
  4. We will have open and honest communication with each other
  5. We will provide feedback and guidance when asked.
  6. We will trust each other and have the best intentions

Household Operating Procedure Strategy Retreat

Let's dive into the details of creating our Household Operating Procedures (HOPs). I suggest scheduling dedicated time with your partner for this activity. Start by enjoying breakfast at your favorite spot, then find a comfortable setting like a bookstore, lakeside picnic area, or cozy cafe. It's crucial to have this meeting "off-site," away from home or office distractions. Treat it as a business strategy retreat, focusing on creating systems to manage your household efficiently, especially when you're both busy with demands outside the home.  Also, this is not a "one-and-done" process.  When first starting out, you may need to schedule a few meetings to get the process down pat.

  1. Identify Chores and Tasks: Begin by making a list of all the household chores and tasks that need to be completed regularly. This can include cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, pet care, yard work, and more.  Keep in mind, that these lists can get very lengthy - childcare could have multiple sub-categories such as pediatrician visits, parent-teacher conferences, birthday party planning, gift purchasing, medication and sick care, etc etc etc.
  2. Assess Individual Strengths and Preferences: Determine each partner's strengths, skills, and preferences when it comes to household tasks. This will help allocate responsibilities more effectively based on who enjoys or excels at specific tasks. For instance, I prefer to do all the yard work.  I enjoy it, and it makes me happy to mow the lawn, plant flowers, and maintain the yard.  My husband is our car guy, and he enjoys maintaining our financial investments.
  3. Set Clear Objectives: Define the objectives and desired outcomes for each household task. This could include cleanliness standards, frequency of completion, and any specific preferences or requirements.  It's also imperative to discuss what "good enough" looks like, and how to get back on track.  We are both ok with leaving dishes in the sink during the day, but my husband prefers to have them all washed or in the dishwasher in the evening so we wake up to a clean sink.  I have to have the bed made every day.  We are both ok with laundry piling up, just as long as we both have clean socks and underwear.
  4. Develop Standard Procedures: While on the job site, where you continually have new trainees learning new jobs and responsibilities, it's important to have step-by-step processes for everything.  I think if you tried this for your household you would drive yourself mad... and remember, we are trying to achieve peace.  Our HOPs look more like "routines" - morning, evening, weekend... and then we list out step-by-step procedures for things we do less often such as winterizing the snowblower or cleaning the air purifiers.
  5. Document SOPs: Document the standard procedures for each household task in a centralized location that is easily accessible to both partners. This could be a physical binder, a shared digital document, or a dedicated section in a household management app.  We utilize Google Tasks, Google Calendar, and Trello, but the most important thing is to choose a place where you will both see it, use it, and update it when needed.
  6. Assign Responsibilities: Assign specific responsibilities to each partner based on their strengths, preferences, and availability. Clearly define who is responsible for each task and establish accountability for completing them according to the SOPs.  My husband and I typically shift responsibilities according to the season.  His busy season is the summer, whereas my schedule is more demanding in the fall and winter.
  7. Training and Familiarization: Ensure that both partners are familiar with the household SOPs and understand how to perform each task effectively. Provide any necessary training or guidance to ensure competency and consistency in task execution.  While it may seem obvious to some of us on how to scrub a toilet and deep clean a bathroom, the reality is, some of us were never trained to do the task, let alone do the task well or efficiently.  This is where you need to apply patience and grace as the trainer, and if you are the trainee, go in with an open mind and excitement of learning something new.  And if you are like me, you need to be willing to give up on "my way is the only way"... allow your partner to add flair or find efficiencies of their own.  As long as the result is the same, it shouldn't matter what path they took to get there.
  8. Implement, Review, and Refine: Once you have implemented the HOPs, schedule regular meetings (I suggest weekly to start, and monthly for maintenance) to review and update the household SOPs as needed to reflect any changes in routines, preferences, or circumstances. Remember your team agreements as you offer feedback and guidance.
  9. Celebrate Successes: Running both a business and a household is undeniably challenging. Juggling the responsibilities of managing a family, a home, and a business can often feel overwhelming. It's important to acknowledge the effort you and your partner put in, even if it's not always perfect. As long as your children and pets are nourished, loved, and cared for, the state of your laundry or dishes is secondary. Remember to celebrate small victories, and whenever possible, treat yourselves to a vacation. Embrace the fullness of your busy, chaotic life—it's a sign that you're living it to the fullest.

 

So there you have it.. establishing Household Operating Procedures (HOPs) can revolutionize the way you manage your home, streamline chores, and promote harmony within your family. By creating clear systems and sharing responsibilities with your partner, you can alleviate stress and ensure that tasks are completed efficiently. Remember, it's okay if things aren't always perfect. Celebrate the small victories and embrace the fullness of your busy life. With HOPs in place, you can navigate the complexities of running a household and enjoy more time for the things that truly matter.

Are you an Independent Contactor who wants more time management tips and tricks?

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Business Coach for Contractors

Business Coach for Contractors and Founder of Blazing Trails Coaching I help my clients “get out of their pickup trucks and on top of their businesses.” I specialize in working with skilled-trades business owners to help them streamline processes, train leaders, engage employees, and make their businesses efficient and profitable.