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How To Thrive As A Parentrepreneur: Successfully Managing Your Time


Barnaby Lashbrooke

Founder and CEO of Time etc, author of The Hard Work Myth

8 minute read

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As an entrepreneur, you have a million and one things on your mind: clients, employees, products, finances, and so much more. When you throw a family into the mix, your list of responsibilities grows twice as long.

They say that time flies when you are having fun, but for parentrepreneurs, hours seem to pass in the blink of an eye – especially when you’re trying to get through a mountain of work and still be home in time for family dinner.

So with so many demands on your time, how do you make sure the two most important parts of your life get the focus and attention they need?

How can parentrepreneurs succeed?

The term "parentrepreneur" or "parent-repreneur” is a fairly new one, but the concept of being both a parent and a business owner certainly isn’t.

Many people believe that having a family at home does more to hinder your business's success than help it. Years of “always on” culture in the world of entrepreneurship, and being subjected to the ubiquitous mantra of “anything is possible if you work hard enough” ever since we were children, make it easy to fall into the trap of thinking that success is only possible if you dedicate 100% of your blood, sweat, and tears into your business – all day, every day. So by that logic, any time spent with your family leaves you with less available time for you to spend working on your business. And the less time you spend working on your business, the more your chances for success will go down the drain.

Well, I disagree.

Before I had my family at home, there was nothing stopping me from working all hours of the day and night. I, too, believed that the increasingly long hours I’d work each day could only ever be a good thing in terms of productivity. But no matter how much I worked – or how long – I could never escape the niggling feelings of disappointment and frustration that any results achieved or progress made always seemed to fall well below the amount of time and effort I’d been investing.

Fast forward a couple of years, and my first child arrives. Now I have a reason to clock off at the end of each day instead of spending every spare moment plugging away at my desk.

A few more years (and a few children!) later, I now work around 65% fewer hours each week compared to those early days. By that previous logic, you would expect my business to have suffered as a result. In reality, the opposite happened. My business grew by 65% last year and is now into 8-figure annual revenue, winning multiple awards along the way, too.

If it sounds impossible, let me tell you, it’s way more achievable than you might think. In case you’re wondering, I haven’t spent a lot of money to bring in a new partner or CEO to do most of my work for me behind the scenes, I’m still very hands-on as the founder of the business.

These are the techniques (that I still use to this day) that have made it all possible.

Treat your time as valuable as it is

While there is some truth to the old saying “Time is money”, there is a key difference that sets the two apart. You will always have opportunities to make more money, but once time has gone, you can never get it back. This is true for both our personal lives and growing our businesses.

As an entrepreneur, time management is one of the most essential skills you can have. It's not just about meeting deadlines; it's about getting the most out of every bit of time and energy you invest in your business.

Avoid the lure of long hours

As I mentioned before, it’s easy for business owners to feel that working as many hours as humanly possible is what will get them closer to their goals. Of course, dedication and effort are both needed in abundance to run a successful business, however, there is hardly any evidence that supports the notion that working more hours is the key to more success. In fact, research has shown that the opposite is more likely to be true. Researchers at Stanford University found that our productivity per hour drops sharply when we work more than 50 hours a week. Working over 55 hours leads to such a significant decrease in productivity that working any further hours would be pointless.

Working insanely long days may traditionally be seen as a badge of honor in the world of business, but in reality, you’ll likely end up losing far more than you’ll ever gain – both at work and at home. Aim to keep to reasonable working hours each day, and be strict about your schedule to make sure you stay consistent. It’s important to not feel guilty for spending “less” time working, especially if you’re a parentrepreneur. It’s not slacking or being lazy or work-shy, it’s simply making sure your two most precious resources – time and energy – are never wasted.

Be ruthless with your to-do list

I know what you’re thinking. Keeping consistent with your working hours is simple enough advice in theory, but with so much on your plate as the head of your business, you bet that putting it into practice will be much easier said than done.

Trying to cram your mountain of tasks into fewer hours will almost always be a recipe for disaster, so instead of worrying about the quantity of tasks you’ll work through each day, it’s time to focus on the quality.

No one knows your business better than you, so no one’s better qualified to take it to the next level. However, no matter how many hours are in a day, you’ll struggle to reach new heights if most of your time and energy is spent on low-impact, recurring tasks. These sorts of tasks can make us feel productive but, other than the sense of satisfaction we get from ticking them off our list, they don’t accomplish much in terms of growing our businesses.

So for any regular tasks on your to-do list that don’t add value to your business or take you closer to your goals, it’s time to automate, delegate, or eliminate them. You can use our free to-do list optimizer tool to find out just how much of your regular workload actually needs to be done by you.

See: Why You Should Write A "Stop-Doing" List Instead Of A To-Do List

Make your calendar your new best friend

When it comes to effective time management, there are a lot of silent assassins that can derail you:

  • Parkinson’s law - The amount of, or complexity of, work expands to fill the time available for its completion.
  • The planning fallacy - The tendency to overestimate how much time we have to complete a task, even if it goes against our previous experiences.
  • Time blindness - Difficulty or inability to sense time passing.

But the good news is that your humble calendar app can help you to tackle all these saboteurs. The key is to schedule your whole day down to the hour, or down to the minute if possible! Not just your meetings and events, but everything. Tasks, breaks, appointments, meals, you name it.

This is one of the best ways of stopping work from eating into your home life, intentionally or not. Without these structures in place, you could fall victim to any of those enemies of efficiency, and a simple task could end up taking all morning or afternoon to complete. Before you know it, you can end up falling increasingly behind on your work, which leads to a common conundrum. Working until everything is finished means you miss out on valuable family time, but leaving on time means inevitably bringing feelings of guilt and dread home with you, too.

When you block out set amounts of time to dedicate to certain tasks, rather than just writing a to-do list or an agenda for your day, you’ll naturally find yourself becoming more disciplined, focused, and efficient to make sure everything is done within that block of time.

See: 3 Ways Your Calendar App Can Make You More Productive Every Day

What’s the bottom line?

While the rewards of being a parent and entrepreneur are plentiful, both roles are not without their challenges. However, with the right strategies, along with practice and patience, you can truly the most out of every hour. Your hard work will pay off, as long as you stay focused and committed to your end goals.

If you’re ready to cut out the distracting, energy-zapping tasks that stop you from doing more, achieving more, and earning more each day, Time etc is here for you.

Since 2007, our mission has been to help entrepreneurs take back control over their days by matching them with the best virtual assistants for their businesses. Each step of the way, our expert team will carefully assess your needs to make sure you get the right support you need to succeed. We’re so sure you’ll be delighted with your assistant, we offer a complete lifetime satisfaction guarantee.

Speak to our expert team to get started or try a skilled virtual assistant for free today.

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About the author

Barnaby Lashbrooke is the founder and CEO of Virtual Assistant service Time etc as well as the author of The Hard Work Myth, recently recommended by Sir Richard Branson. Barnaby is a Forbes Columnist on productivity and is also an accomplished entrepreneur, selling more than $35 million worth of services.

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