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Start Your Business Success Stories

Work-Life Balance: What Delivering His Own Child Taught This Founder

Tim Chatfield of Jitjatjo
Credit: Tim Chatfield

I have always embraced the road less traveled. Whether it be in my personal life searching for adventure or my professional life striving for the next challenge, I am constantly looking for the thrill.

When I decided to create a hospitality staffing app, Jitjatjo, I knew we had to develop something inspiring and revolutionary: 80 percent of app users cut ties with apps within 90 days. With over 2.2 million mobile apps available and 97 percent of startups failing, the odds were against us. But those statistics were never ones that were going to stop me – I was determined to forge my own path.

As it turns out, that road was far rougher than I could ever have anticipated. Within a span of three months, my family and I moved from Australia to the United States, had a baby and launched a startup. Moving houses is a big deal for most, but moving continents is even more challenging. Similarly, having a baby is a big step for a family, but personally delivering my child in the middle of my apartment is a rush that no one is prepared for.

We launched Jitjatjo only five weeks after my daughter's birth. That level of stress and change on a family unit and as an individual is probably more than most would elect for, but I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

To keep my sanity and be successful in my job and personal life, I realized I had to bring the same passion to my daily routine that I had in my previous jobs. I needed to find the balance that is emphasized in the other countries I have worked in, such as Australia and Singapore. It wasn't easy, but here is what I learned:

Do your highest value tasks during your peak energy time. I used to be an evening person, but I realized I was waking up tired the next day and was unproductive at work until later in the evening – it was a vicious cycle. Now, I always get to work around 7:30 a.m., well before most of my employees. My mornings are sacred times for me; they are my most productive times, as I have a few uninterrupted hours to get my work completed. I found this switch to be conducive to a more successful and productive day.

Identify and prioritize your most important tasks. Your "To-Do" list is always longer than the amount of time you have, and you need to be comfortable letting less important tasks go unfinished, or delegating and being happy with the results provided. I had to learn to draw the line somewhere: for me, quality was far more important than quantity, and I knew I had a great staff that I could trust to handle tough tasks in an exceptional manner.

Diligently manage your time and your calendar. I learned that I needed to be realistic with the proper amount of time I would need to finish a task. Overloading my day with too many tasks that needed attention only caused additional stress and ended up leaving me with sub-par results. I also made sure to include time for breaks; it's important to be disciplined with taking mental health breaks, whether that's a walk around the block, taking lunch outside, or leaving the office at an earlier hour to spend time with the family.

In my personal life, I work very hard to be the best father and husband I can be. My wife and I are each other's support system; going from one child to two is a difficult jump, especially when you are on the other side of the world with no family present and limited friends around to offer help. At least three times a week I like to make sure I'm home before my children go to bed, so I can handle bath time, read bedtime stories, and put them to sleep. I am first a father, then a founder and CEO.

Additionally, every weekend I take my youngest daughter out for a long walk along the Hudson River, typically lasting two or three hours. This gives us time to talk and bond while getting in exercise; it centers me and strengthens my bond with my daughter. When I'm not working I want to spend time with my family; life is all about prioritizing what's important to you, and my family always comes first.

There will always be roadblocks when balancing your work and personal life, and as with everything else, every day presents its own set of unique challenges. The key to success, however, lies in you and your ability to utilize your strengths and recognize your weaknesses. When life throws you scenarios that seem impossible to get through, embrace them head-on and you will thrive. Finally, stay balanced. Your employees and your family will thank you.

About the author: Tim Chatfield is the CEO and co-founder of Jitjatjo. A savvy executive with a passion for technology, Chatfield's mission is to empower people to work whenever they want and get paid instantly, while simultaneously enabling businesses to optimize their staffing levels and reduce labor costs. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Chatfield graduated from Macquarie Graduate School of Management (Macquarie University) in 2002. 

Edited for brevity and clarity by Nicole Fallon.