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a blog by Chris Barrow

Boundaries, Priorities and Compartmentalised Time

"Chris - could you please help us on this- As an owner/clinical couple we are having a problem with where work stops and where family time starts.

I often discuss -things to do- for the business - first thing in the morning. We both work during the day time, either in the clinic or doing admin without seeing each other, and then we catch up business again in the evening !!

I am sure you have worked with many clients with the exact same issue and you may be able to guide us in the right path to help us enjoy our family time better and spend quality time with our children. We are trying from today to have a business meeting between us 3 days a week during lunch break for 30 minutes without any staff interference. We are hoping this might reduce the problem but I am very looking forward to hearing from you on this."

Isn’t this one of the most common problems in couples ownership!

I have spent 25+ years reading emails like this.

There is only ONE solution.

The Dan Sullivan Entrepreneurial Time System - Free Days, Buffer Days and Focus Days and an agreement NOT to talk shop at home.

In my experience lunchtime meetings don’t work - too many distractions and a mind that isn’t focused.

You need complete sessions (three hours) dedicated to working ON the business and not IN the business.

1. Free Days - days when you do no work;

2. Buffer Days - days when you do all your preparation, planning, management;

3,. Focus Days - days when you earn the money by doing clinical.

Until such time as you can stop doing clinical (ASAP) and then the focus days become days working ON the business as well.

I first discovered Sullivan's Time System back in 1993 and it was another two years before I summoned up the courage to open a year calendar in August 1995 - for 1996 - and plan out the three types of day mentioned above.

I have used the same system ever since, only distracted by major life issues or global pandemics.

When I was raising a young family I realised that the nature of my work/travel was that I would rarely be home during weekday evenings and so compensated for that by ensuring that weekends were free and that there were always 10-12 weeks of vacation each year.

Even now that the kids are grown and gone, I still plan 11 weeks staycation/vacation this year.

Work is a hungry monster with an insatiable appetite that will devour you if you allow it to. You have to tame the beast by creating hugely strong boundaries, by establishing the truly important priorities and compartmentalising your time in the way that Sullivan suggested.

Easily the best business advice I ever had.

I'm 67 years old and if I had spent more time at work over the last 51 years that I've been in gainful employment, my life would NOT have been any better.

My (adult) children don't reminisce about how I succeeded in business - they remember the holidays, the Saturday movie nights and the fun.

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