Finding an effective work/life balance is a challenge that every successful founder will face. To celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, we heard from five female founders about how they manage their businesses, personal lives, and often their families, via their favorite time-saving productivity hacks.
A Growing Number of Female Founders
Every year, International Women’s Day presents a global celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. This year’s IWD serves as a call to action to accelerate gender parity and its theme, #pressforprogress, aims to be a catalyst for speeding up the ongoing, progressive change, in the direction of gender equality.
Over the years, we’ve seen some good progress in the economic advancement of women. According to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Business Report, published by American Express, there are now over 11 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., with the number growing at a rate of 114% over a twenty year period. These cutting-edge companies range from tech start-ups to health care services and creative businesses, and employ nearly 9 million, generating $1.7 trillion in revenue.
With so many women at the forefront of innovative businesses, one may wonder how they manage to balance business and home life, all while caring for themselves and often their families too. Here’s what five female founders shared with us:
1. Avoid Multitasking with Blocked Out Hours
When juggling multiple commitments, it’s important that you’re able to manage your time well, identifying strategic priorities and dedicating blocked out time to focus on addressing those key aims.
Although the old saying goes that women are natural multitaskers, in reality, only 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively. For the rest of us, Stanford University found that attempting to multitask can inhibit the ability to recognize what’s important, meaning we’re distracted by menial tasks and end up unproductive.
In order to stay focused, try blocking out time for your most important tasks, minimizing distractions during those blocked out periods.
Sevetri M. Wilson, the CEO of her own firm developing award-winning philanthropy programs from the ground-up, shared how she stays productive: “Time blocking is vital! If you want to be productive, don’t let people interrupt you for minor things.” She continues, “Our first reaction, especially as women, is to help others first, but self-care starts with you. Take care of yourself and your own priorities and it will be much more satisfying and less overwhelming to help others.”
2. Clearly Define Work Time and Home Time
Studies have found that an inability to tune out from work can not only lead to a decrease in productivity but can be detrimental to our emotional well-being, in some cases leading to sleep-related problems, anxiety, depression and more.
To make a clear distinction between working life and personal commitments, digital marketing consultant, profit acquisition expert, and new mom, Natalie Gouche, shares how she organizes her time to stay productive, while placing a priority on her personal time: “I only book client sessions and calls in certain hours and I make sure to not go past these working hours, so that my work doesn’t leak into my downtime. I also try to schedule a few days in the week where I don’t have any work on my books at all.”
- You might also enjoy reading: How to Achieve A Good Work/Life Balance
3. Use Your Breaks to Keep Active
A study from the University of Bristol found that employees who are able to exercise during their lunch break are more productive, happy, efficient and calm. Participants reported that following their lunchtime activity, they felt their concentration and problem-solving abilities had improved, and they overall felt calmer and more productive.
In order to remain efficient into the afternoon hours, Business Marketing Architect, Lisa Manyon of Write On Creative makes exercise and learning a priority. “Since I spend a lot of time at the computer, I try to walk at least half an hour each day. When it comes to finding time to exercise, even a short, brisk walk is better than not moving. I often leverage my exercise time and learn on the go by listening to industry podcasts.”
Marketing consultant, Natalie Gouche, takes a similar approach: “I find taking a walk in the middle of the day helps me decompress, returning to my afternoon tasks more focused and productive.”
4. Learn to Delegate Effectively
Being a great leader doesn’t mean you need to do everything yourself. It means hiring the right staff and perfecting the ability to identify who is best suited to tackle a task or project, then empowering them to do so.
To delegate effectively, there are a few key steps you can take, such as making it clear why you’re delegating, then providing sufficient instructions and training to enable your team member to do so. However, even before this point, Cat Lincoln, Founder and CEO of content marketing service Clever, explains that effective delegation begins at recruitment and “Hiring smart people.”
5. Set Smart, Achievable Goals
You’ve probably heard of the SMART principle as a means of judging whether your goals will be effective. The principle requires goals to be:
- S – Specific, meaning the aim is focused and unambiguous
- M – Measurable, meaning someone can determine whether it’s been achieved
- A – Action-oriented, meaning a specific action will have been taken
- R – Realistic, meaning the difficulty level and the timeframe you’ve predicted are attainable
- T – Time-bound, meaning a deadline has been specified.
When it comes to reducing overwhelm and making her goals SMART, startup consultant and marketing mentor Tisha Marie Pelletier keeps her task list simple and achievable. “I start by setting realistic deadlines and only putting three main things on my to-do list each day,” Tisha shared. By doing so, she can add in a walk, hit the gym, read and spend time with her family, and still get her professional priorities seen to.
These female founders exemplify how advancing women’s economic power as high-producing entrepreneurs can be possible while still leaving time for themselves and their own wellbeing.
By employing time management, self-care, active breaks, effective delegation, and realistic planning, women can do-it-all and be happy doing it. In this way, female founders can too #pressforprogress.