I was reading some articles about "work/life balance" this past weekend, and couldn't help but chuckle to myself about the entire concept, because I don't think that any such thing actually exists. I have a very specific example of why that is, and I thought it would make a nice article to serve as my first regular post here on IntuitiveAccountant.com.
Fridays are days that I generally try to keep my calendar ‘light”. (Full disclosure: I generally refer to them as “No Work Fridays” during the summer, and pretty much expect everyone on the Kildal Services team to follow suit.) Last Friday, however, was a bit different – I had a lunch meeting and 2 export projects to finish. I have been working for years with Bay State Consulting’s products and am a member of their Partner Network, so at any given time, I have a couple of import/export projects in various states of completion.
This particular day, I wrapped up one of the export projects before the lunch meeting, and I had been waiting all morning for another client to get me their QuickBooks file so that I could export all of the transactions into spreadsheet format. I hadn’t received it by the time I left for lunch, and honestly, didn’t expect it at all that day. I had promised the finished product by 5pm CT (which is 6pm ET, or as my friend Richard calls it: “Stacy Time”). So what’s the thing about that particular time commitment? Well, I had promised that time because the client had told me I would have the file first thing in morning. I didn’t get the email with the file attached until I was about to pull out of the parking spot after my lunch meeting. The email also indicated the original deadline of 5pm CT was not just expected, but needed, as they would be using the data to do whatever they were doing with it over the weekend.
I got the email at just before 2pm ET. That gave me a full 4 hours, right? NOPE.
You see, in addition to Kildal Services, I have RadioFreeQB.com, which is actually an entirely separate business that needs to be run. Also there are my two fantastic kids, my amazing husband, and three cats. All of these require my attention.
I sat in the parking lot, considering my options. I had a bunch of other work related things to get done by the end of the day, but I also had less than an hour before I had to go pick up my daughter from school, then I had to pick up my son from daycare. It would be almost 4pm before I walked in the door and would be able to start the client’s export project, right? More like 4:30, by the time I got the kids snacks and figured out what I would be doing about dinner, because OH YEAH – I still had no idea what I was doing about dinner, and my daughter had a friend coming home with her and…
STOP. This is why, even when it’s just a short lunch meeting, I never leave home during business hours without my iPad, my laptop, (an 11” Macbook Air, for anyone interested), my phone and all the chargers. I also keep a power inverter in my car as well, so that I can keep everything running in my “mobile” office. I also keep my office desktop computer on all the time, and run a program I found a few years ago that uses my Gmail account to login and remote into it: Jump Desktop.
I did the only thing I could: I got to work right there in the parking lot. I pulled out my iPad, turned on tethering, and grabbed my laptop. I logged into my office computer (an older windows PC that still runs XP), downloaded the file, and started the first round of exports. Soon I logged out of everything, and headed towards my daughter’s school – about a 20 minute drive. For the next 2 hours, this is how I operated. Got to my daughter’s school, logged back in, started the exporting the next batch of transactions, and got caught up on the other stuff I needed to get done while I waited in the pickup line. I did the same thing when I got to my son’s daycare, so that by the time we got back home, all I had to do was finish up a bit of the export project, then send the files to the client.
Yes, I got all that done and dinner figured out too, all before 5:30pm ET – 30 minutes ahead of the deadline. Yay me!
Now, do you see why I find the idea of work/life “balance” so funny? These days, so many of us are working parents, and sometimes it’s just impossible to set aside some time for just work or just personal tasks.
It’s not a balancing act, with all the work over here and all the personal over there. I like to think of it as something a bit more interwoven. I would say tapestry, but I’m not that fancy. How about we call it an afghan, and sometimes we’re all wrapped up in it; other times, we just have to take it off and set it aside.
A Note from the Editor: Intuitive Accountant is happy to have Stacy writing for us on a regular basis. Some of her articles will focus on technology, including those things that ‘make a mobile work and life’ more practical. I am sure she will fit her favorite QuickBooks Online in there somewhere. But Stacy will also be focusing on life and business issues that face all of us, especially professional women who are striving to fit work, home, and family into their busy schedules. I am confident that her one-of-a-kind style will not only present a unique approach of fitting together “all the pieces of ‘the afghan’, as she calls it,” but will give us an entertaining insight into where ‘mobile and net’ practices like her own are heading.