By Jenny Lukas, AVN Practice Growth Expert
A few weeks ago I was working with an AVN member and he told me that his mission was to help people whose work-life balance was all work and no life. This really struck a chord with me. When I first started work, there were no mobile phones or laptops (OK, there may have been but not in everyday life and offices – I’m not that old!). But this meant that, even as a business owner, when you left work, you left work. You could go out for a meal with your family and not be interrupted by a client.
Nowadays I often speak to accountants (and business owners) who can’t get away from work. They can be contacted whenever and wherever through their mobile, text messages and even What’s App. Even if their clients aren’t hounding them, knowing that they could makes it really difficult to fully switch off.
What works for me may not work for you
At AVN we talk a lot about work-life balance and getting it right. People sometimes assume this means that we encourage people to work either 9 – 5 Monday to Friday, or just 3 days a week. But that’s not how I see it. To me, work-life balance to me is working the time you WANT to work and not the time you HAVE to work.
My husband (and business partner) is a self-confessed workaholic. When he isn’t presenting webinars or having strategy calls, he’s always on his computer, looking at ways to improve the business or learning something new. He also regularly gets up at 6am to crack on with work because he’s far more productive then than at any other time of the day. But this works for him.
At the same time, if he decides that he wants to do something with the kids, then he’s 100% there. Having teenagers, you need to make the most of the time they want to spend with you – it’s not that much these days!
I prefer to do less work in the daytime. I spend time with my family and friends or take the kids wherever they need to be. But then I work in the evening, when the kids are at their evening clubs. I can often be found in the pub with my laptop, drinking coffee.
We’ve had so many questions about this over the years, saying we don’t practice what we preach. People say we ‘bang on about work-life balance but then reply to emails in the evening.’ In fact, we’ve had to put specific footers on our emails explaining the way we work. Because as long as the work-life balance you have works for you, then that’s all that matters.
So how do you get your work-life balance to balance?
There are many ways you can do this. Start by putting an out of office on your emails when you aren’t available, and letting your phone go to answerphone.
Ideally you would have a different work phone number to your personal one but that isn’t always possible if you’ve already given clients your personal number. So train and educate your clients on the hours when you’re contactable. These don’t have to be the same as your working hours. You may need uninterrupted time to get your tasks done, or time to work on your business.
Another thing to try (and one of my AVN Members does this) is to literally leave your mobile phone in the office when you go on holiday. So there’s no access to your emails at all and no-one is able to contact you. Radical!
If you have a team, you could also delegate client contact to a team member at certain times. This gives you the opportunity to catch up on your own work or to take some time off.
What I want to get across though is that this is YOUR life, and only YOU can decide what work-life balance feels right. As long as you (and your family) are happy with it, then that’s all that matters.
More ideas on building an accountancy business that gives you your perfect work-life balance on the AVN KnowHow Hub.