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 ask 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.
This issue: Tina Osen is president and CEO of HUB International TOS Ltd., an insurance brokerage and financial services firm based in Burnaby, B.C. Founded as TOS Insurance Services by her father, Herb Osen, the firm was acquired in 1999 by Chicago-based HUB International Ltd. Osen oversees 11 offices in B.C.’s Lower Mainland, which generate annual revenue of $35 million.
When Osen had her first child six years ago, she found herself juggling way too many responsibilities. “I recognized that if something didn’t give, I wasn’t going to be effective,” she says. “If I don’t feel like I have a sense of balance in my life then I start to feel very uneasy and my work performance, my personal life, my health all start to suffer as a result of it.”
Osen, now 38, set about achieving a more effective lifestyle: “I don’t believe that someone can have it all,” says Osen, “but I believe you can choose the things that are important to you and strive to do those things in life.”
Here’s how Osen found her perfect work/life balance:
- Narrow and prioritize: Take a look at what’s important to you, then create a short-list of five main priorities. “That’s not to say you give up everything else,” says Osen, but it helps focus your energies and plan your time. Osen’s list includes family, a rewarding and challenging career in which she can continue to learn, health, friendship and travel. But others might include elements like spirituality or community services.
- Make cuts: Determine what relationships, commitments and tasks are “time suckers” and eliminate them. Osen even ended two friendships. “[These friendships] weren’t very multidimensional,” she says. “So it wasn’t hard to give them up when I looked at the value I pulled out of it — and I’m sure for those individuals it wasn’t a great loss either.”
- Make private time sacred: “I started to, and have continued to be, fanatical about protecting my private time,” says Osen. Schedule “me time” into your calendar, including workouts and sleep. Osen has even been known to ask houseguests to leave if it’s getting late. “While this doesn’t make me the best hostess or friend, it does make me a better, more effective and healthier person.”
- Ask for help: Learn to delegate and don’t shy away from asking colleagues, family and friends to lend a hand. Entrepreneurs are not always great at leaning on others, says Osen, but doing so will free you for the tasks you’re best suited for, plus you’ll benefit from their skills and abilities. If you’re able, have someone come in and do housework, she suggests. You’ll avoid spending what little free time you have vacuuming or doing laundry.
- Plan ahead: Give yourself ample time to ensure the items on your priority list actually happen. For example, Osen is passionate about travel, so she books her vacation time a full year in advance.