You can have it all, says celebrated business woman Yashmita Bhana, but just not at the same time. She calls it work-life design and not work-life balance as most would, purely because Yashmita Bhana, Founder and Managing Director of Nihka Consulting believes that the word “balance” makes women feel guilty about not having everything in perfect equilibrium, all the time.
Being a mom of three children while managing projects in excess of R300 million in a highly complex environment makes the work-life conundrum an everyday reality for Yashmita. “At different stages of my life, I’ve had to either focus more on business or more on family and therefore I believe you design your life according to what is appropriate for you at the time.”
Although Yashmita works really long hours, she tries to spend as much of that time at home as possible. “After homework and putting my kids to bed I’m on my laptop again finishing emails and sending important tasks to my staff or working on finalising proposals. Each day is different! There have been days where I have gone to a movie all by myself so that I could just clear my head and start afresh. But there are also days where I’ve worked through the night and survived on no sleep the next day.”
To Yashmita, technology can be both a blessing and a bane in the challenge of juggling work and family. “While it’s great to always feel connected and to be accessible, I sometimes feel like I’m never switched off. Being in a tech business I know how it enables productivity and so we had to implement a “no-screen-time rule” in our home. Every day we have a two hour break from any technology so that we feel connected to one another on a human level. It has definitely improved our family quality time.”
Responsible delegation or delegation with oversight as she calls it, keeps Yashmita from burning out. “When you are an entrepreneur and you are truly passionate about your company and its sustainability, it’s unrealistic to put pressure on yourself to do it all.” It is this ability to delegate that frees her up to concentrate on business growth and allows her team to grow in their skills. “It not only helps me avoid burnout but also empowers them to make decisions. The trick here is letting go and trusting. As you find the right people that align with your work ethic and value, you feel more and more comfortable to delegate.”
Family time in the Bhana house is always a lot of fun and very much non-negotiable. “I would take business calls into the night, but during family time I will just ignore the phone if it rings.”
Family time often means preparing supper with the kids or playing a board game. “We love watching Masterchef and play Masterchef in the kitchen almost every day. We love board games which can get pretty heated but we have lots of fun cheating in them. Most importantly for me is to set aside time for my family because they are the most important people in my life and our time together is non-negotiable so we stick to our commitment to one another.”
How does she manage a successful career and business and still have a life? “I have learnt to do that which aligns with my values because that makes me feel happy and helps me decide what is most important at the time. The Innovator Trust has played a major role in the success of my business.
We have seen the benefits from their tailored Enterprise Development Programme in realising our vision to become a leading ICT solutions company.
I love my company and team. I love my clients and our relationships. So my business is important and by choice I spend a lot of hours building it. I love my family and I absolutely prioritise my time with them and furthermore. I love my charity work and I have found a way to combine work, family and charity work all in one.”
“What I’ve settled on is that I can definitely “have it all”. I just don’t have to have it all at the same time and this relieves the pressure of having to perform all the time and the guilt of not being a superwoman. I’m comfortable in my imperfections and my vulnerabilities and this surprisingly helps me do some amazing things in my life and my business.”