Work-life balance is dead. Always-on connectivity enabled by technology has killed the traditional 9-to-5 work day. So how can you still have it all?
I believe a healthy mix of flexibility and prioritization is the answer. These are my real guiding principles and ones that can help strategize your path forward for your professional and personal goals. So ask yourself — what’s important to you? Is it seeing your family or a dinner date with friends? Build that flexibility into your schedule so you can pack the punches at work without skipping what matters most.
As the founder and CEO of Frank, an online platform that completely overhauls the experience of applying for financial aid and college, my job ranges from raising capital with global investors to building a team. Here’s how I’ve tackled scheduling — and I think succeeded in making it work for me.
Prioritizing your priorities
My #1 rule is don’t make plans you can’t keep — and that rule is equally as important for not cancelling on yourself. This forces you to be very selective of what can and can’t go on your schedule. With so many things to do in a day, you need to pick what’s most important and organize your life around those things. For me, my barre/yoga/SLT class and family dinners are on my calendar and are never cancelled. My team, then customers, then investors come first. I also enjoy tutoring and mentoring students one-on-one, a promise I made to mentor to pay it forward twice over.
Flexibility, adaptability, and consistency
When creating your schedule, leave opportunity for things to change, but also adapt when things need to get done based on what works for you. For instance, I know the mornings are my most productive time, so I avoid scheduling meetings during that time frame. I often block off my calendar in chunks to work on specific tasks or take meetings, which helps me know how to shift things without feeling overwhelmed if something needs to be addressed right away. I also make sure to set aside time where I’m not answering email, typically between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.. No one writes their best emails in the middle of the night.
Do what you do best, and delegate the rest
It’s important to not add to your to-do list unless it ladders back to your priorities. As CEO, I should be focused on hiring, ensuring my team has all the resources they need, listening to our customers for feedback to improve our products, and increasing visibility for FRANK. If I’m dealing with a customer support ticket at 2 a.m., then I haven’t done my real job of hiring and creating the right infrastructure. When this happens, I need to pull back and look at the real issue, which is making sure I’ve empowered our team with clear goals and given them the right resources to get the job done well.
Over-communicate, be direct, and don’t B.S.
Always communicate your priorities. Explain why these goals matter most to you to help build empathy from anyone who might question your intentions. Directness is key, and a great way to gain a person’s trust. Make sure you return that consideration by honoring deadlines — if you said that proposal would be in their inbox at 5 p.m., make sure you respect their schedule the way you would want yours to be respected. Responsiveness is also must. I never open an email I don’t answer even if it’s to say I’ll get back by X date. Giving people information they need as fast as possible so they can make decisions and get their job done is what gets you ahead.
CEO or not, figuring out what’s most important to you and organizing your life around those pillars is key to feel empowered and take control of your life. If you have a clear idea of what your goals are, you can more effectively maneuver around schedule changes, communicate priorities, and delegate tasks — and anyone can benefit from that.
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