Work-life balance — a concept that sounds really appealing, but is actually something that’s more like a myth rather than a realistic idea. For entrepreneurs, especially, there will always be an urgent email to respond to in the middle of a family dinner, or a school concern that might pop up during a hectic day at work. Owning and running one’s own business may seem like a forgiving endeavor; after all, you have control of your own time. But then again, if not managed properly, that precious freedom might not work to your advantage. Here, dads who run their own business share tried-and-tested time management hacks.
Plan ahead and know what to prioritize.
Rem Bonifacio, owner and CEO of real estate service company Bloc 7202 Ventures Inc. and a dad to a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, recognizes the need to schedule tasks ahead and choose which to prioritize. As someone who also manages a family business on top of his own company, Bonifacio has to multitask on a daily basis while dealing with a lot of employees who are located in different areas. “Cut unproductive activities that don’t help improve yourself and focus only on the essential ones that give value to you and your family,” he advises.
Having a battle plan also works for Lino Quiogue, who runs co-living space The Communal in Pasig City. Quiogue, who is a father to a toddler and is expecting another baby, works closely with his wife when it comes to planning their day ahead. He relates, “This is how we manage our expectation for the next day, and maximize the time we have for ourselves to have fun.”
Being prepared is also important for Jorge Wieneke, president of the Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. (AFFI). “I’ve learned and have always told my sons that it is always better to have a plan B. Don’t settle for just one way of doing things. Always have a backup. Planning is key to everything,” he shares.
Use time management tools.
They don’t have to be sophisticated; even the basic productivity apps in your computer or mobile device can be a big help. Mike Manalo, owner and director of Director’s Board Video & Film Productions, relies on a lot of apps and programs to help him manage work efficiently. One of these is the Mac Calendar, which serves as his “personal secretary” because it “takes care of your schedules, important events like birthdays and meetings, and sets alerts for them.” Manalo, a father to two girls age 11 and 13, also uses Google Calendar as a handy tool to sync all his schedules across all his devices. He further notes, “Always plot your schedule using the calendar on your phone and link it with your laptop or computer calendar, so that you’ll have a quick glimpse of your timelines to avoid overlapping of personal and work schedules.”
Set a routine and stick to it.
Being your own boss (and the boss of others) requires discipline. You can’t just go through the day spontaneously. Bonifacio, for instance, starts his day at 7 a.m. to attend to his daughter’s needs. Come 8 a.m., he joins his family for breakfast before leaving for work. After calling it a day in the office, he goes straight home. “On a normal day, I don’t eat dinner anymore so I go straight to the bedroom and bond with my wife and daughter,” he relates.
Adrian Salvador, who runs an auto painting and mechanical repair home service, also starts his day early. “If there is a project or client I have to visit onsite, I do it after lunch until it’s time to pick up my son at 3 p.m. My son and I get to play basketball, do chores, or just hang out together in the afternoon. More queries come in late at night, so I try to answer them before going to sleep,” he shares. Setting aside time for the family becomes possible by creating a routine.
Always communicate with your loved ones.
An established routine is a big help in dividing your time between your business and your family, but let’s admit it: Work can sometimes get in the way of family matters. When the unexpected arises, avoid misunderstandings by being open with your loved ones. Says Salvador, “I often have to explain to my 10-year-old son why I spend so much time on my phone. I consult with my wife whenever I have problems or challenges related to the business. That way, they understand and appreciate what I do, and they support me in my endeavors.” Quiogue agrees, adding that communication is an essential part of his relationship with his wife.
The same is true for Ryan Villena, founder of Haraya Sports Events Management, which champions “youth physical development particularly through sports and outdoor activities.” Villena relates, “Before I schedule games on Sundays, I have to have clearance first from my personal GM — my wife!”
Buddy Isleta, owner of Puro Taba ng Talangka, credits open communication as a key factor in successfully managing his business without sacrificing relationships. He narrates, “We actually kinda knew what we were getting ourselves into when we started this endeavor. We thought of the possible challenges and what to expect…. We tell everyone that we are open to suggestions and we listen to all of them, while still knowing our limitations.”
Don’t take shortcuts.
Taxumo CEO Eugene Arboleda says that in playing both roles — a business owner and a father — there are no shortcuts. He says, “I learned that in both, you should never sacrifice your long-term vision for a short-term win.” He cites an example: “I could shout at my daughter to stop her from throwing a tantrum, but the real solution is in helping her manage and understand her emotions. It takes a bit more time, but it’s in line with who I want her to be: a mature, independent, self-sufficient person.” The same is true in making decisions for his business — it might seem easy to say yes to certain opportunities that will allow him to earn more money, but doing so will not benefit his company in the long run.
Maximize family time.
Quality time with loved ones can never be overstated. “It’s important for me to be present in my son’s life, and I value the time we get to spend together,” says Salvador.
“Always remember your own kids. Even though playing with dolls or dinosaurs is not something you are really passionate about, what should be put in perspective is that they are also developing in other ways,” adds Villena.
To do this, be really present — physically and mentally — when you’re around your family. Quiogue, for instance, makes it a point to prepare for his time with his wife and son. He elaborates, “Preparing means finishing as much work as I can so that we can enjoy our night without getting late-night [work] calls.”
Indeed, it’s tough running a business while making sure you don’t neglect your loved ones, but don’t be too hard on yourself. Acknowledging that balancing your work duties and personal responsibilities is a tall order takes off the pressure. Says Bonifacio, “You have to do a lot of trial and error… It really is a juggling effort, and the more you accept this nature, the better you can handle both.” Manalo adds another important piece of advice: “Family always comes first. It’s not the end of the world when you [have] unfinished work. There’s always tomorrow to finish it.”
Isleta acknowledges that the support from family and friends is one of the biggest factors of success, both in business and in personal relationships. “We saw how family and friends, our support network, was vital. We found that we had amazing friends and family who are so supportive. They help us develop the tools needed for the business. We’ve also picked up friends who have and are still helping us with the business.”
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