Meeting both business and personal demands has long been a juggling act for women entrepreneurs. Between the long hours, travel, meetings and employee and customer challenges, there’s little time left for personal needs. Still, leading a rich, well-rounded life is as essential to your business success as it is to your sanity.
We asked Canada’s leading businesswomen to tell us how they effectively manage work/life balance. Each issue we’ll bring you the tactics and strategies that help women grow their companies and careers, while still finding a little “me” time to help deal with the personal commitments of life.
Farah Perelmuter is CEO of Speakers’ Spotlight, a Toronto-based speaker agency. Launched in 1995, the firm has booked such notable speakers as David Suzuki, Deepak Chopra and Margaret Trudeau.
As she was walking through the aisles of grocery giant Loblaws recently, Perelmuter was struck by a sudden thought: “Wow, everything is so balanced right now. My life is in flow!” She had taken the day off work to take her turn driving her children’s car pool, and in that moment, not only was she doing her grocery shopping, she was also checking her e-mails, making notes and eating lunch.
To Perelmuter, perfect balance is spending quantity and quality time with her kids, being productive and effective at a job that she loves, and maintaining strong relationships with her husband and friends. What’s more: making time for herself. And if you think that sounds unrealistic, she says, “I have achieved it, and I can’t believe it. So many people say it’s impossible, and I always thought it probably was. But there are certain strategies that you can implement in life so that you really can have it all.”
For one, you can’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. “I was always trying to be superwoman. I wanted to be there for my kids at every single moment, I wanted to be the one to teach them every single thing, and I wanted to be the volunteer at the school and be everywhere all the time for my children, (Jade, 6, and Cole, 4),” she says. At work, she wanted to be in charge of all the projects that she was excited about and attend every networking invitation she received.
But Perelmuter found out the hard way just how high she was setting the bar. “As I started to get more and more burnt out, it dawned on me that no one can do everything, and what you really have to do is prioritize.” Her solution was letting some things go. Though it wasn’t easy to accept help at first, she admits, Perelmuter hired someone to help take care of the kids and household chores, and she’s learned to trust her staff and delegate responsibilities at work.
In addition, Perelmuter says it’s crucial “to be good to yourself without feeling guilt,” admitting that’s something she’s still working on. She takes Tuesdays and Wednesdays off work, not only to participate in the kids’ carpool, but to give herself time to run errands and socialize with friends. To reduce stress at the end of each day, she shares “special time” with her kids until they’re asleep, then she takes some time for herself to either read, watch TV or just enjoy a cup of tea. “Even half an hour of quiet time; that’s when I calm down and start to relax.”