Welcome to day 8 of 30. Rolling into our second week I trust that you understand my goals with this blog. Going forward I will be trying to focus on one topic per day, but of course there are no guarantees that I won't get into more.
Over the weekend I got a little time to spend with my wife and daughter. We spoke a bit about the nature of my work life and how I can be pulled back into work mode at any time of the day. It's not just about doing work, but being distracted from my family. I don't see this as solely a result of running a consulting business, but a combination of owning a business in general as well as being a part of the coffee industry.
If you don't own your own business, I will tell you (and I'm certain many others will) that it is a whole lot more work than you may realize. If you have employees there is management. If you have sales there are logistics involved in both sourcing and after sales. Problems rarely seem to arise between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday. As the owner, especially of a small company, you get to deal with problems and opportunities as they arise. This really sucks for stable family life!
While I feel I can take care of everything reasonably, it is less about connectivity and technological solutions, and more about not being able to simply enjoy your time. My daughter might be right in front of me taking her first step (she's actually very close right now), but I could miss it because my nose is in the middle of typing an email. For some men it doesn't really matter.
For me it means the world.
So what is the solution as a business owner to separate work and family time? Unfortunately there is no easy solution. I must schedule my time to be more efficient during the "work days" and then prioritize how and if I should respond to work needs after hours. I have had thoughts about not looking at social media, email, and work related things at home. It can work sometimes, but more and more these work and home elements get crossed over.
It will take commitment to doing what is best for myself, but I have some ideas on how to achieve these things. I will need to be strict in enforcing my own best practices but it can work. To start, I will likely be scheduling social media posts, and then checking them the next day. Emails will be checked at specific times, essentially scheduling when I "check the mail". Responses will either be prioritized or not allowed unless an emergency. New ideas for business, blogs, or industry things will be physically written in my trusty notebook and reviewed the next day.
I sometimes wonder if the caffeinated nature of our industry is part of why we get so scattered. Business agreements seem to get finalized days to weeks prior to their needed execution. We have no real leadership or vision of where the industry is headed. And many companies are surviving out of necessity rather than careful planning and execution. My current solution is to drink a little less caffeine and to stick to long term planning of events as much as possible. Until we get a bit more cohesive as an industry I'm not sure how else to stay organized working with others.
The coffee industry also seems to lend itself to a bit of chaos when it comes to planning and organizing thoughts at reasonable hours. I am also focused globally, which makes it problematic to keep normal hours when a client in Japan wants to talk. In these regards I have two major solutions in mind. Planning my interactions as much as possible and budgeting a certain amount of time in the "off hours" specifically for that client.
Lastly, the global nature of the coffee industry is tough to keep in check as a consultant. This is even more reason why planning is so necessary! When I can plan Skype sessions and interactions ahead it makes it much more easy to be on top of things as well as not feeling scatter brained. Granted those interactions are a bit later in the day for me, but knowing what to expect helps considerably.
I think one of the reasons I have let myself get pulled in so many directions is that I love the people. It is a joy to work with so many various people and to visit other countries. So if you are reading this and afraid I am mad because we talk at weird hours (for me at least), have no fear! This has nothing to do with being unhappy. Just wanting to be organized. So if I don't respond as quickly in the future I hope you understand.
Only time will tell if these things will work the way I intend, so I'll probably give an update in a week or two. For now though these are my solutions. I would be curious to hear your techniques for solving these problems of work/life balance. Feel free to tag me on Facebook or Twitter with your thoughts. (My spam filter on this site is needing some help, so hopefully I can get a better interaction here soon!)
That's it for today. Stay tuned tomorrow, as I am planning to talk about latte art throwdowns and competitions!
Thanks as always for reading,