Today’s world is witnessing an increasing number of women scaling the peaks of corporate life. The topic of work-life balance rears its head as juggling work commitments becomes doubly difficult when combined with the responsibilities of a wife and mother. Despite being arguably one of the most significant professional challenge to navigate, achieving work-life balance is a proactive way to avoid potential detrimental effects of work-related stress, sustain our health and well-being, and be continuously inspired by the passion for what we do at and outside of work.
Managing personal and professional commitments whilst maintaining a level of dedication and answerability to our own well-being, namely keeping our whole selves healthy and content, can be a reality. The key is to be organized and productive, which I achieve by keeping a meticulous schedule.
The primary tool that I rely on day in, day out is Any.do. I use it to lock in events, appointments, deadlines, meetings with my team, and Mom duties such as fetching my son to and from school. The latter is a priority, so I would always set a reminder. Having a comprehensive overview of the day is crucial for making sure that it’s not overwhelming or unrealistic.
The secondary tool that I rely on is my whiteboard; I use it to set clear goals for the day by breaking down each task into different segments and scheduling them accordingly. For example, when I am working on a proposal for a campaign launch, I would list down the steps; meeting with the team leads to have an all-round visibility of everyone’s workload to assign manpower to assist me with the proposal; brainstorm for event concept; shortlist event space; media activities.
Often, these tasks can be further broken down into concrete action steps. To provide a clear example, I would list the following single-step tasks under “shortlisting event space”–research online for event space, contact the management to find out more about event space; shortlist three locations; meeting with the management; site recce, and so on. In between these commitments, a 30-minute block every afternoon is dedicated to downtime to recharge and refocus, where I would step out of the office.
I believe exercise is especially vital for entrepreneurs, as it boosts the immune system, and improves mental clarity and productivity. During the one-hour exercise session every other day, I am solely focused on myself and looking after my health; I prioritize it in my calendar to ensure that I am committed. My remaining time outside of work and personal commitments is dedicated to flexible tasks, mainly time with family and friends, and errands to run if any.
Ultimately, establishing fair and realistic boundaries between work and family helps me achieve work-life balance. Work will always be there the following day; thus, I will be out of the office by 6:30 pm everyday and I will unplug from emails, work-related messages and phone calls. It is all about managing expectations and clearly communicating to your colleagues the best times to get hold of you, and most importantly, enforcing a work-life balance culture. Also, with multiple ongoing responsibilities, a week or two long vacation in the second and fourth quarter of the year is always part of my schedule.
In the quest towards running a successful business, having a strong support system is equally important as work-life balance. As female entrepreneurs who play a critical role in the well-being of our family and communities, networking with other entrepreneurs and business leaders at women-focused networking groups, startup summits or female-led business conferences such as HER Asia Summit allows us to not only be surrounded by like-minded people, but it also opens our minds to how we can do even better. Feeling inspired by the creative and knowledgeable female entrepreneurs in our network enables us to better embrace the challenges at home and work.
About the Author
Nadia Chan is the Co-founder of Maiko, the Singapore distributor company for Australian skincare brand CANVAS. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Singapore, she is also the General Manager of local public relations agency PR Communications. Her entrepreneurial drive began when she graduated from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management.