The average day of a trade service business owner is far from a walk in the park. The list can range from:
- Phone calls from clients
- Phone calls from your employees
- Phone calls from your suppliers
- Debts to collect
- Quotes and invoices to create
- Labour to be completed and signed off
- Marketing to prepare
- Reconciliation to be completed
It’s a never-ending cycle of chaos and sheer reaction to the information you’re being constantly peppered with. This doesn’t include what needs to be done the moment you walk through the front door of your home. With so much to do in so little time, how do you make sure you are getting the most out of your day?
First, we need to understand what work-life balance is.
What is Work-life balance?
Work-Life Balance by definition is “the state of equilibrium in which demands of personal life, professional life, and family life are equal”. In the perfect world, your days can be equally split into the following categories:
- 1/3 (8 hours) sleeping
- 1/3 (8 hours) working
- 1/3 (8 hours) leisure
At FlatRateNOW, we know very well that this equal split is not the case for many trade service business owners. We’ve asked many of our current and potential clients what their day looks like and it’s something like this:
- 6 hours (1/4) sleeping
- 12 hours (1/2) working
- 6 hours (1/4) ‘leisure + working’
What steps can you take to begin improving your balance?
Before you can begin taking steps to improve your work-life balance, you need to honestly analyse your day. Ask yourself, what does an honest work-life balance look like for me?
Some examples of work-life balance that we heard from a handful of tradies:
- Leaving the office no later than 6.30 pm every night so you’re home to have dinner with your family
- Giving yourself 30 minutes at lunch every day to go for a walk
- Block out any meetings until 8.30 am so you can have breakfast at home with your family
- Going to the pub every Thursday evening to watch the footy with your mates and divert all calls to a rostered employee until the game has finished
- Closing the business on Sunday and diverting calls to a friendly competitor to ensure you have 1 full day a week to rejuvenate
- Limiting yourself to 5 phone calls during ‘downtime’ time
- Diverting calls to a Virtual Receptionist of an evening with the explicit request to only contact if it's an emergency and the client has paid the call out fee
Whatever shape your vision of an honest work-life balance forms, it is important to strive to achieve that vision. The benefits are significant across all areas of your life. According to NI Business Info, the advantages of work-life balance can be:
- Increased productivity
- Less sickness
- A greater sense of value
- Improved mental health and well-being
Tips for effective use of time
The above examples are ways you can begin to improve your work-life balance. In order to achieve these goals, you must maximise your efficiency throughout the day. You might be reading this and thinking to yourself, “How do I achieve this?”.
Here are some things to consider:
Do you need to do that task or can someone else in your business do it for you?
If there is no one else to do that task for you, ask yourself: “If I spend my time doing the task, will it progress me towards my goals?”
An example of this is diverting your calls to reception or a colleague so you are not interrupted when you are with your customers
Can you automate that task?
Things like writing quotations on paper and also entering the information into your invoicing software should be automated where possible. Constantly re-writing the same description for the work you do creates additional stress and burns valuable time in your day.
Overcome this by replacing your manual quoting process with an app that offers a list of jobs already written with headings and descriptions.
Speaking to a mentor or business consultant for tasks you can’t quite get your head around.
As time is your most valuable resource, spending hours attempting to solve a problem isn’t a great idea. Not only will you chew up valuable time, you’ll stress yourself out and burn unnecessary energy in the process. Find someone you can speak to and get guidance on those problems
For example, you’ve identified a list of clients you’ve completed work for over the past 12 months. You want to reengage them to increase the number of returning customers, while avoiding the costs associated with acquiring new customers. Rather than spending unnecessary hours on Google trying to work out a solution, discuss what a ‘re-engaging strategy’ would look like for your business with a marketing specialist.
Give yourself an hour each day to work on your business.
As your schedule is reactive to client jobs, you need to block time each day. Make sure you’re blocking this time out when you are feeling your most fresh and productive.
Achieve this by blocking out 1 hour each day during a time slot you are most likely to be quiet and review your strategy, business plans, sales targets, software trials or employee structure. This is a good way to begin working on your business. Remember, you need to continually work on your business to become pro-active rather than reactive. It’s the old saying, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”
You will not simply wake up one morning and have the work-life balance you desire. It takes small steps completed over time. Remember, these steps include understanding your vision, leveraging technology/software to replace time-consuming tasks and delegating daily tasks you don’t need to do.
Many people try to get this balance right every day, some get it and some don’t, but continually working towards your vision will get you there.