So you want to spend more time with your family.
You could do what a couple of big-shot executives have recently done: wait for years, until you’ve amassed a yacht-load of money and already missed countless once-in-a lifetime moments with your kids or your spouse. Then write a memo boldly proclaiming that you’re finally ready to spend time with your loved ones!
Or you could figure out how to spend time with them now -- while you’re still employed. Below, you’ll find some tips on how to accomplish that.
It used to be that when high flyers would say they were quitting their jobs to “spend time with family,” what they really meant was “I’m totally about to be fired.” But lately, a few working fathers have seemed to sincerely mean what they say.
Brent Callinicos, the chief financial officer of multibillion-dollar startup darling Uber, resigned his post on Monday after two years on the job.
"It is time to do what I have desired for a very long time; time to keep a promise to my wife of not missing another school play, swim meet, or academic achievement of our daughter’s childhood," Callinicos wrote in a memo. (You can read the whole thing at Mashable.)
About a week earlier, Google CFO Patrick Pichette resigned in order to spend time traveling with his wife Tamar. "I could not find a good argument to tell Tamar we should wait any longer for us to grab our backpacks and hit the road,” he said in a memo posted to Google Plus. Pichette’s kids have already grown up and flown the nest.
"Mr. Pichette’s goodbye letter was touching, adventurous and completely outside the experience of 99% of the world’s population," wrote Conor Dougherty in The New York Times.
Pichette's total compensation for 2013 was $5.15 million. Not everyone has that kind of money. For those who aren't so lucky, though, there are still ways to get in more time with loved ones.
“Even in very demanding jobs, it’s often possible to spend a lot of time with one’s family,” time-management expert and author Laura Vanderkam wrote in a 2013 blog post.
For those people, Vanderkam has some tips on how to finagle more time with loved ones -- while still remaining employed. Much of her advice involves time-shifting, or using the flexibility your job provides in order to spend more time at home.
Of course, the key problem is that there are millions of workers -- particularly in low-wage industries -- who don't have the luxury of choosing when to work. In fact, some workers have so little flexibility they often don't know until the last minute when their workdays will begin and end.
Sadly, those workers won't find much use from Vanderkam's tips, which she recently shared with The Huffington Post. In those industries, much deeper structural reform is needed. Yet for the millions of white-collar workers feeling stretched to the limit who do have some flexibility, her advice may offer valuable help:
Switch Up Your Hours
"Lots of parents leave work at a reasonable hour (like 5:30 pm), spend the evenings with their families, then go back to work (from home) after the kids go to bed," Vanderkam says. "Working from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. and then 8:30-10:30 p.m. gives you the exact same hours as working 8 a.m.-7:30 p.m., but if you have little kids who go to bed early, you get a lot more time with them."
“Most people who log back on don't do it every night (no Friday and Saturday!)," she notes. "You can also consciously take one night off per workweek, or limit this second shift to 90 minutes and then do half an hour with your spouse some nights per week."
Another suggestion: "If you have teens who sleep until noon on weekends, you might consider leaving work earlier during the week, and then logging a few hours from home on Saturday morning. Working from 7 a.m. to noon on Saturday is 5 hours -- the equivalent of leaving an hour earlier every day during the week."
Work From Home Occasionally
"You can work from home one-two days per week," Vanderkam suggests. "You still need child care on those days (obviously!) but you can see little kids who are home during your breaks, or you can say hello to older kids when they get off the bus."
"And nixing the commute can buy back quite a bit of time too," she adds. "You can work longer and spend more time with your family if you're not stuck in the car for two hours a day!"
Binge Work While Traveling
"Go ahead and work 15-hour days if you're out of town. Why not?" Vanderkam asks. "There's no opportunity cost."
"But then when you're home, you work much shorter days," she points out. "If you worked 15 hours on Monday and Tuesday while on the road, and then eight hours Wednesday/Thursday/Friday, that adds up to 54 hours, but you'd see your family a lot more than if you worked 11 hours each day Monday-Friday."
"Other ways to find time without burning out: Have breakfast with your family instead of watching TV together at night. Commute to work with your spouse if it’s convenient. Or if you work near each other, meet up for lunch."