Are You Spending Enough Quality Time With Your Family?

By Ellesse

I admit it. I was guilty of that myself.

Yesterday I was reminiscing through some old family photos and a video I had taken 3 months ago (when my niece turned two). While reliving and enjoying the delightful moments, I realized something. My face couldn’t be found in the photos taken at my niece’s 1st year old birthday bash. And a number of other family gatherings.

“Where was I?” As I tried to recall, images of me waiting at the flight boarding area flashed past. Ahh… I was on my way to conduct an overseas implementation.

Frankly speaking, I loved the traveling in my previous jobs. Jet setting around the region opened my sights to things I would never experienced had I stayed in my sheltered haven. But that definitely came at an expense. The expense of watching my little nieces & nephews grow up. As well as the chance to mingle with my aging parents.

quality time with family
What about you? Have you missed some precious family moments as well due to work related commitments? What if you’re one of those who don’t even know you’re losing work life balance?

As part of the series for the 4th ranked goal “Enjoy More Quality Time With Family” in my previous poll Top 10 Goals of Goal Setting College Readers, let me share with you 10 tips to create more opportunities for spending quality time with your family. But before that,

Do You Know If You’re Losing Work Life Balance?

In my last job, my colleagues and I would often “praise” ourselves if the sun didn’t set when we knock off on the dot. That was our own little funny way of assessing if we’ve been working too hard. Come to think of it, though it wasn’t too scientific, it certainly was a very entertaining experience. Because we never fail to have a good laugh at ourselves afterwards. Ha ha ha.

Seriously, people who are clearly overworked really had no sense of time. To them, fridays feel exactly like mondays. Because they work even during their weekends. Their family is often so accustomed to not having them around that they find it really weird when they do turn up. Besides that,

  • They leave for the office when it’s dusk and go back home when it’s dawn.
  • They drink so much coffee (or energy drink) that any day they try to cut it down, they’ll get a headache.
  • They’ll gladly sacrifice leisure or gatherings with friends just to check another email.
  • They get easily irritated and can’t stand their boss (or their spouse) nagging at them.
  • They can’t remember when was the last time they took a vacation.
  • They respond faster to blackberry buzzes, instant messages pop ups, emails than they do when someone calls them from behind.

Well, are you exhibiting any of the signs above? If you’re, tendency is, you’ve unknowingly became a slave to your job, sacrificing that something which probably means more to you than you thought. Time with your family.

If you’re still unsure whether you really fit the bill of a workaholic, maybe this little quiz I stumbled on the net can help affirm your concerns. Do me a favour, will you? Let me know in the comments if you’re one workaholic!

In case you’re wondering, nope, I’m not considered one anymore :)

10 Tips To Create Opportunities for More Quality Time With Your Family

Even if you’re really a workaholic, there are still ways you can claim your life back and enjoy many more wonderful moments with your family. Here’s are some tried and tested ones :

  1. Join A Family Friendly Company

    You’ll be surprised how many people think this is literally impossible. Actually there are a lot of companies which support family friendly policies. Such companies discourage unnecessary overtime work and have flexible arrangements which promote employee empowerment and accountability. Without disregarding their family responsibilities, of course. Some of these arrangements include flexible start and knock off hours, sabbatical leave, child care facilities etc. They even allow their staff to work from home if necessary. If you’re with such a company that cares, I’m sure you’ll care enough to do your work well and continue being part of the team, won’t you?

  2. Make Yourself “Dispensable” At the Workplace

    How? By encouraging cross training within your department and setting up a buddy support structure. Not only does it provide good opportunities for shared learning, it’s an integral part of contingency planning. So that even if you’re on family vacation, there’ll be someone else who would be able to follow up your case. I know it’s against conventional wisdom to suggest this. After all, who wants to be easily replaced in the competitive commercial world? But the truth is, no one is indispensable. No matter how fundamentally sound a company may be, there’s no guarantee that anyone will be staying indefinitely just because he knows certain proprietary information that others don’t. It’s how much value you add in the process that makes you worthy.

  3. Reduce Wasteful Hours in the Office

    Are you guilty of spending too much time instant messaging your friends while at work? Or attending meetings that doesn’t have a proper agenda? Such wasteful hours add up and inevitably take up a large part of your office time. In the end, you may be compelled to do overtime or take your work home in order to meet the deadline. Identify those time wasting activities either through your office’s time sheet system or a manual time log. Find out what are the wasteful activities and slowly cut them down accordingly.

  4. Work From Home

    If your mode of operandi allows, working from home may be a good way to enjoy more time with your family. My hairstylist for example, quit her job many years ago with a downtown professional hair saloon to setup hers at home. It proved to be a wise decision. Now, she sets her own client appointments to accommodate the time she needs to take care of her 2 young sons. There’s no conflict at all. If you’re an aspiring work from home dad or mum and want to consider the different work from home options, check out eMomsAtHome. It’s an excellent place to get you started.

  5. Bring Your Family On Your Business Trips

    Why not? If you’re a frequent flyer and out of the country most of the time, it may be a good idea for your family to join you. Kids can tag along during the school holidays. One of my ex colleague travels with her fiance every time he’s outstationed. Needless to say, they’re a very close knitted couple.

  6. Implement Careful Holiday Planning

    Try to squeeze in a family holiday every year. But don’t ever plan it in the midst of a major on-going project, though. Because, not only are you being inconsiderate by doing so, you’re setting yourself for a very much disrupted break. Especially if you’re the one handling the project most of the time. Schedule your vacation dates before or after the rah-rah and truly enjoy when your reward dues. If you’re working for yourself, keep a lookout for the industry trends, seasons and leave the break for lull periods.

  7. Know When To Use Or Keep Your Gadgets

    Technology is a double edged sword. It has the power to give you freedom to go mobile and yet easily blurs the boundary line between work and personal life. Learn to rule your life with technology by identifying selected times in the day or events where you’ll leave your laptop or blackberry aside. Such as during a vacation or while having a family dinner. Trust me, nothing irks one more than to hear the buzzing of the blackberry when he’s building sandcastles with the kids!

  8. Trade Office Lunches For Family Ones

    An ex director I knew used to drive back home during the office lunch breaks whenever his work schedule allows. It certainly helps that he was just staying a stone’s away from our office. Well, even if you don’t have such a luxury, I’m sure you can arrange for your family to join you for a lunch in town once in a while!

  9. Outsource

    By delegating some of the stuff you’ve been doing, the time saved can be spent more with your family. For example, household chores. Get a domestic helper to clear up your house on the weekends while you go on a family escapade. I know this may cost so before you jump in straightaway, ask yourself. What’s the opportunity cost of not outsourcing such stuff? If it’s much higher than what it would cost you to engage one, I’ll say just go for it. And if you’re self employed and has been doing routine tasks such as book keeping, customer support etc yourself, engage a virtual assistant. You’ll be surprised how much time you can actually save! For more things that matter more to you.

  10. Mark Down “Can’t Miss” Family Time & Events On Your Calendar

    Such as your wedding anniversary, the children’s birthdays etc. And any regular family time you’ve worked out based on everyone’s schedule. When you consciously do so, it ingrains on the mind the importance of these events. And sooner or later, you’ll find yourself making an effort to avoid planning any adhoc last minute activities on that day. Because it’s reserved. For the family, of course.

That’s all from me. Any other tips you’ll like to share? Let me know in the comments too!

** Photo by Ella’s Dad


11 Responses to “Are You Spending Enough Quality Time With Your Family?”

  1. kathylynn at 10:39 pm

    Great post! I really enjoyed it!

  2. Ellesse at 1:59 am

    Kathylynn, thanks for your kind words! I’m so glad you liked the article :)

  3. Pinny Cohen at 2:27 am

    I have found that since several family members run their own businesses, simply collaborating on client work can be a great way to see them – even during work!

  4. Ellesse at 5:08 am

    That’s innovative! My dad owns a small biz. Sometimes when I do help out at his biz, we do indulge in some excellent father-&-daughter discussions… really great for bonding.

  5. Alex Blackwell at 2:07 pm

    Ellesse, thank you for these tips and reminders of how to try to balance it all!

  6. Al at 7P at 5:05 pm

    Great post, Ellese. It’s too easy these days to lose track of what truly matter in our lives. Money that’s not earned now can be earned now, but time lost with loved ones as they grow are lost forever.

  7. Ellesse at 1:22 am

    @Alex, I occasionally forget too. Even though I’m working from home, sometimes I just spend too much hours in front of my laptop… luckily there’s always my little niece to break up the monotony and “disrupt” my work. He he.

    @Al, absolutely. Especially if one has a relative who passed on, the regret can be so much greater. Sigh.

  8. Dr. Joe Capista at 5:40 pm


    Your family is a huge part of success in life. This is too often overlooked in the pursuit of career and status. Thank you for the reminder of the importance of balance.

  9. Ellesse at 1:03 pm

    Hey Dr Capista, thanks for your comments. Great to have you around!

  10. Eugene Williams | Power of Motivation BLOG at 2:45 pm

    Ellesse, thank you for the timely reminder!

    Yes, it’s true that quality family time is often being neglected by most of us.
    The tips you mentioned will definitely help everybody to balance their life.

  11. Ellesse at 5:07 am

    @Eugene It helped me – I joined a family friendly company (my own!!) – and I certainly hoped it will help everyone else who reads this :)


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