“Plate”Spinning 101

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Balancing Work and Home Life When You Run Your Own Business

“We come into this world head first and go out feet first;in between, it is all a matter of balance.” –Paul Boese

When you run your own business, and often that involves working from home, that line between your professional life and your home life can become blurred. It becomes more difficult to leave your job at the work place when the work place is your home. And managing your business and your personal life can become a balancing act, resembling a crazy circus act of plate spinning as you try to keep things from crashing down around you. So how do you manage the hectic life of an entrepreneur and maintain a healthy balance of the personal and the professional? Here are a few rules you can follow:

First, pick your “plates”Sometimes we choose to spin more plates than are necessary. In order to achieve balance in your life you need to sort out what is truly important at this time and put the rest on hold. Like the Old Testament says (and a well-known Byrds’ song), “To every thing there is a season, and a timeto every purpose under the heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). And like the Byrds sing, “Turn, turn, turn.” Or should that be “spin, spin, spin”?

Prioritize things in your life so that in a pinch, you don’t need to choose between tasks because you’ve already ordered things according to importance and can move forward without hesitation. And whittling down current responsibilities in your life will prevent you from spreading yourself too thin; you can give things the time they deserve.

Second, enlist another spinner’s help.Perhaps you might hire someone to help with the more menial tasks in order to spend more time with less plates. Or perhaps you could add your spouse or teenage children to the payroll. Now you can delegate more and spin your wheels less.

Third, determine when certain plates get spun.Sometimes small business owners become preoccupied with those professional plates and let their personal plates lob to the floor. In order to give your family the time and attention they deserve, you need to set some boundaries and determine when you will focus on spinning those personal plates. This often requires you to set office hours and to abide by them. You should be clear with your clients in order to avoid late-night calls that interrupt your personal time (or at least to avoid their frustration that you’re not answering). Also set some caveats: what qualifies as a work emergency and justifies stealing a few hours of personal time? And conversely, what qualifies as a family emergency and justifies stealing a few hours of work time?

Fourth, remember that spinning faster doesn’t mean spinning efficiently.If you were spinning plates, it would be silly for you to spin the plate on the far right and then run over to the plate on the far left before running back to spin the second plate to the far right. In order to keep those plate spinning you have to spin efficiently. Remember that worker hard doesn’t mean you’re working smart. Learn solid time management principles to help yourself save time. A few things you might do to help you better manage your time include the following:

  • Create a “To Do” list of crucial tasks at the beginning of the day.

  • Log interruptions for a week and evaluate ways you can eliminate some of those time-sapping disturbances.

  • Standardize repetitive tasks (create form letters with redundant text, etc.)

  • Avoid procrastination (it’s amazing how much time is wasting trying to avoid tasks)

Fifth, take a vacation from all that spinning.It often takes small business owners years to take a vacation from their job. Imagine signing up for a position that didn’t allow you to take any days off. But it’s amazing how much more productive you can be when you’ve given yourself a breather. So take out the calendar and plan for that vacation today. Plan it well in advance so that you can save that time for yourself and let clients know you’ll be unreachable. It’s much better to stop the plates one at a time so that they can remain intact until you return to set them spinning once again.

All work and no play can burn the business owner out (not to mention the family). So if you’ve lost a few personal plates lately, it’s time to reorder your life and get balanced. Take the time and make balance a priority

Take this opportunity to keep your plates spinning in harmony with the training that will make the difference in your and your loved ones lives. You can make what you have pictured yourself achieving in accounting a reality with the proper training. Whether you are working for someone else’s business or guiding your own Accounting firm this is the training you and those you know need to complete. Take a moment and familiarize how Universal Accounting can help you to achieve your goals!

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