Where’s the “Me Time” in business?
What do you do outside of work? It’s a question that many of us have to answer in our week and for most, work seems to dominate our world. There’s a question I like to ask people when I first meet them, “What do you enjoy doing?” and to highlight the priority work has in many of our lives: 50% of people respond with “Well at work I…”.
I know what it’s like to be totally immersed in work, I spend 8 hours a day working and a large portion of my remaining time reading books or researching topics that are relevant to my work. It really helps that I get to go to work each day with a purpose. I know exactly what I’m trying to achieve and I know that it’s in my ability to live out that purpose.
Many people talk about “me time”, from my experience, when you start a business, the notion of “me time” disappears and anyone that says otherwise is living in a fairytale. If you want work/life balance, don’t start a business. Find a job you love and stay there, work hard, get paid and do great things. Don’t start a business.
I haven’t got any kids but my business is the closest thing that I can relate to. Suddenly, I’ve gone from being able to do what I want with my time and money to all my money and time committed to doing things for other people.
First and foremost, my job is to make sure that our customers are happy, that our service is so exceptional that they’ll be happy to refer people that might need our services. I’m also responsible to make sure our team is happy, that they are getting professional development and that they are achieving their personal goals whilst working with us. Finally, I have to make sure we’re making enough money to pay our rent and bills.
If things fall short in any of those areas, it’s up to me (and my business partner) to make sure things are put right. That we fulfil our obligations as a business and as human beings, having a positive impact not just for those we work with but for our community as a whole.
Sounds like a lot right? It is, and it’s after all that, if there’s some spare time and some spare money, I have the luxury of being able to enjoy that. To have “me time”. At the moment, I don’t see an opportunity for a holiday. Even over Christmas, I already know that my time will be spent maximising the quiet period to reflect and review the year past to make 2019 even better.
The Power of Priority
But all that said, within all that responsibility, there’s still an opportunity to choose what I value, to choose where I put my time. My faith, my family and my friendships are important to me, I try really hard to put them first. I don’t always get these things right but I still get the final say as to what I do with my time. I’d say that I’m lucky to be single (sometimes it’s crap not to have someone to share life with), but whenever I meet someone interesting, I do whatever it takes to find the time to get to know them.
Words are powerful and if we’re not careful, what we write and say become us. I saw a post by a friend recently on an event, they wrote, “Sorry I can’t make it, I’m booked out for the next 3 months”, I had a good laugh, I’m a little bias but I work more hours than most people and I know that I am never booked out 3 months ahead. I’ve always got things to do (don’t we all?) but you’ll rarely hear me say that I’m busy. Sure, I have things going on but I always make time for the people and things I care about, regardless of how short the notice. It’s really that simple. If my mum calls and needs a hand, I will try to move heaven and earth to make that time. Family comes first.
I learnt that lesson the hard way last year, I was so focused on work that pushed back family, during one of the biggest projects in my working career, 2 of my grandparents became ill and passed away. I was so disconnected from my family that I didn’t notice what was happening. The emotional crash after that left me reeling for 8 months. In all that, I still didn’t have “me time”. I was leading a new team that, although very capable, didn’t have the time to manage my role on top of theirs. You might call that bad management. It could be. But when you’re getting a new business off the ground, it’s not very often that you have spare cash to spend resourcing a team to cover those exceptional cases and ultimately, the buck falls on someone. Usually, the person with the most to lose.
If you’re a friend, I’ll find ways to make meeting as convenient as possible. Generally, over lunch or dinner (we all have to eat!) or doing an activity that is both productive and relational, come for a run or rock climb with me (we all need to exercise). I also visit mates to wash my clothes because I don’t have a washing machine. I’m sorry that I can’t be around more to just hang out but if you need a hand moving house or you’re in some serious shit-hit-the-fan situation, give me a call and I’ll be there to help.
I’m an Introvert With no “Me Time”
This is something that takes people by surprise. I’m a massive introvert. It’s why I can spend hours at work on my own, getting things done. I don’t necessarily need to go out and socialise. I’m happy doing my own things and I find ways to be productive. I find that I often miss church because of this, after a whole week working with people, I simply don’t want to spend more time with more people. I listen to a podcast instead, I listen to worship music and play my guitar (though not very well yet).
I get most of my productive work done between 7-9am and 7-11pm. It’s when I can think in my own space, away from people. It’s not that I don’t like people, I just really enjoy time alone or when I’m with people, in 1 on 1 situations.
It might be rare that I have proper “me time” but I certainly find the time to rest and to do the things I love to do. This weekend, I built a paper roll rack for our papers in the studio. It was something I needed to do for work, but I made it into a weekend project where I truly could enjoy myself building something.
If you can find a way to do what you love in business, you might lose your “me time” but like having kids, there’s a rewarding aspect that’s worth the investment and sacrifice. I remember when my role models started having kids. I saw them less, they lost their freedom but gained something so much more. I hope that one day, I have some kids too. That would be nice.
That’s my update for the week! Time to get some sleep.