As owner of your own construction or design/build business, how many hats do you wear? Hiring manager? Concept designer? Jobsite supervisor? Accountant? Demolition expert? The responsibilities can seem endless at times, and the knowledge that the buck stops with you may be overwhelming. How can you manage a successful business and a personal life at the same time? This hot-button question has the experts scratching their heads, too.


The American Time Use Study (ATUS), a long-range study conducted by Pew Research, found that men and women are feeling the pressure of trying to balance work and family almost equally. Fathers are nearly twice as likely as working mothers to feel they are not spending enough time with their children. Additionally, with more women in the workforce, men are pitching in with household chores with greater frequency than previous generations. Kristen Shockley of the University of Georgia pulled data from over 350 research studies and found that gender had no impact on how much pressure one felt to balance work and family responsibilities.


What Do the Men Say?


The work-family balance debate is heating up for men who are finding the pressures of “having it all” can be too much to strive for. Part of the problem has been that men don’t speak up about the issue. One man who is vocal on the subject is Mark Hemingway. In his article for Verily.com he speculates that men haven’t spoken up about their struggles because to do so, “is to somehow complain about women’s success in the professional world—and by extension, to complain about men’s increased home-life obligations that women used to predominantly carry.” Hemingway isn’t complaining. In fact, he says becoming a husband and father helped his career. He found that because of the pressures he was under at home, he eliminated time-wasting activities at work and found a new drive and focus which he credits for his successes.


Becoming more focused after marriage may not be the case for all men, and there’s no one answer to finding the right way to balance your work and family life, but there are some things you can do to get a handle on the pressures and stresses facing you each day.


Take an Inventory


Before you can decide what to do to try and find your balance, you need to do a little bit of groundwork. Tracking your activities in 15 to 30-minute intervals might be tedious and seem like a time-wasting activity, but you’ll soon be able to spot those non-productive tasks and eliminate them, or at the very least, shorten their duration. If jobsite check-ins become social calls instead, try texting with your supervisors to get a quick update. Avoid wasted time gathering materials or contracts for client meetings by developing a set of procedures and standard document packets. Being organized is a great way to reduce your stress.


While you are documenting how you spend your time, you should also note the areas where you are the expert and areas where someone else might be a better choice to take the lead. Robert Brooks, professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life, says once you identify your strengths and priorities you can then specialize in those areas and delegate others. You will be more productive and feel less stressed knowing that every task is being handled by the person best suited for it.


Build Resiliency


One of the key factors to finding balance in your life is to recognize and become a resilient rather than a reactive person. Reactive people do not feel they are in control of their lives and are very prone to stress. Resilient people seem to adapt better when faced with problems. Resilient people bounce back from difficult experiences rather than becoming overwhelmed by them. Resiliency is not a trait people are born with, rather it involves behaviors, thoughts, and actions which can be learned and practiced by anyone.


Resiliency can be built in several ways, but starts with a strong support base of family and friends. Knowing that you have someone to turn to for assistance and support provides a firm foundation for becoming a resilient person. Talk about your plans for finding a balance with your spouse. The two of you can support each other in this shared goal.


Other ways to build resiliency include:


Set realistic goals – instead of tackling all aspects of a big project at once, ask yourself, “What steps do I need to take first?” Then make a plan, set a schedule to accomplish each phase of the project, and delegate tasks to your team.


Take decisive actions – don’t just wish that the stresses in your life would go away. Analyze what is causing the stress and find solutions for it.


Keep things in perspective – when things go wrong, realize that there are solutions and avoid blowing the issue out of proportion.


Schedule Your Downtime


When you review and set your weekly schedule, include leisure activities such as date night with your spouse or an afternoon at your favorite fishing hole. Your daily schedule should reflect your priorities in both your professional and personal lives. Don’t bring work home with you. Instead, unplug and focus your attention on your family.


Purposefully planning family time gives you something to look forward to and gives an added incentive for leaving work on time. Another benefit to planning your leisure time is that you won’t end the weekend feeling as if nothing was accomplished. Unscheduled time which seems to just slip away will add stress to your life.


“Multi” Task


We all know that true multi-tasking is a myth – no one can do two different tasks simultaneously. What you can do is to combine two or more activities into one. If one of your goals is to spend more time with your children but you need to get the parts to fix the mower, take little Jenny along to the hardware store with you. She will enjoy spending one-on-one time with you, and you will accomplish one of your errands.


Setting and keeping appointments with your family members lets them know that they are as important, if not more so, than your clients. Your consistency to these commitments will strengthen your family bonds and aid in building your resiliency.


Be Technologically Savvy


You probably have heard today’s technology touted as one of the many evils of our modern world. While it’s true that we brag we are always connected with our smart phones, that may not be the best idea to bring balance to your life. The buzzing of your phone, whether for a phone call, text, or email, will interrupt your off time and push stress back to the forefront of your life. There are times when you just need to turn off your phone to enjoy the moment. Don’t text your sub-contractors while at your son’s ball game or read that client’s email when you’ve scheduled time with your spouse. Those things can wait until you return to work. Let your downtime be quality time.


Instead of your smart phone being a source of stress, turn this technology to your advantage. Shared online calendars can keep you connected with family activities and alert you when you need to leave the office or jobsite to keep your commitments. Online maps will provide you with the most efficient routes between jobsites to maximize your productivity.


Technology can shave time off domestic tasks as well giving you more time for enjoyable activities. Many stores now offer options to the traditional shopping experience. You simply place your order online and pick it up at the store. Other stores encourage you to use their app to scan your purchases as you select them. Your credit card is charged and you don’t spend time waiting in the checkout lane. Each of these time savers can put more downtime into your daily schedule.


Be Realistic


Let’s be honest. We’ve all made those New Year’s resolutions to get in shape, lose weight, or eat more healthy foods. We’re all gung-ho on January 1st, but as time goes on, we find we just can’t maintain that initial enthusiasm. Our commitment to these huge goals waivers and before long, we are back to our old ways. The same could be true about your goal of finding a better balance between work and your family life if your plan is not clearly defined and designed for success.


Start small. If your goal is to be home for dinner with your family, it would be wise if you took an honest look at your work routines and set one night per week to start. Stating that you will be home each night at six for dinner will only add stress and guilt when you miss one or more nights. As time goes by and you are regularly making it home for dinner on that one night, you can add another and another until you’ve reached your goal. Build on your success. You and your family will be happier when you meet your commitments.