With responsibility for 15,000 customers and 112 employees, Timely Co-founder and CEO Ryan Baker is a keen advocate of self-care as the ultimate tool for productivity.  Here, he talks about why work-life balance is so important and shares his tips for achieving it.

How important is work-life balance?

It’s extremely important. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s easy to achieve.  So many people feel very, very overwhelmed; particularly in the midst of a global pandemic when they are trying to juggle running a business, running a home, and homeschooling.  All too often, looking after ourselves falls to the bottom of the list and doesn’t feel like a priority.  In reality, self-care is the most important thing and will make you much more effective and productive in all the other areas of your life.  

How do you personally achieve balance?

I’ve put a few non-negotiables in place, the key one being downtime with my family.  It’s very important that we give ourselves that time to step away from work and to enjoy the people, and the things, that we love. 

I do understand that it can be hard to take time out from work though, this was certainly the case for me in the early years of Timely when we were a small team.  But, from the start, I was very aware that I needed to achieve balance and so I began to put the people, teams, and processes in place that would make this possible. 

What advice would you give to anyone who struggles to take time out from work?

One thing that’s helped me a lot is thinking about productivity. I used to think about it on a scale of zero to a 100. For example, on a bad day, my productivity would be zero.

However, I then realised that productivity can actually be less than zero!  Because on a really bad day, what you’re doing is actually just creating more work for yourself in the future. So, now I think about productivity on a scale of -100 to 100.  

If your productivity is below zero, if you’re creating more issues than you’re solving, then you’re better off not being there. You’re not contributing zero, you’re making work for tomorrow. In those situations, you’re much better off forgetting about work for the rest of the afternoon, the day, however long you need, and just taking some time for yourself. 

In 2015, a staff member challenged Ryan to do a SkyDive when Timely reached 15,000 customers. We hit this incredible milestone at the end of last year. Ryan kept his promise and jumped 15,000ft out of an aeroplane with 60 seconds freefall at 200km/hour, Queenstown, New Zealand, December 2020.

Do you have any tips for prioritising self-care?

The first one would be making sure that it is always part of the conversation. You aren’t always going to get it right; my own track record is pretty patchy! It’s hard running a business and it’s hard maintaining balance in all the other aspects of life.  But by keeping the conversation about self-care a constant, you will begin to make decisions and put processes in place that are much more focused on achieving balance. 

Being honest with yourself and with other people is also important.  During the pandemic in particular, business owners and professionals in the beauty industry have been very concerned about letting their customers down, or letting their employees down, and consequently haven’t been putting themselves first.  

Don’t be afraid to open up to your clients and staff about your fears and anxieties, about your own mental health, and the overwhelm you feel. People buy people and this level of authenticity will both forge connections and yield support. 

Timely is a team of 112 remote-working staff spread across the globe in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. We know there’s no substitute for face to face time, so we make sure we get together regularly for a good ol’ catch up. Pictured together at our last in-person meeting in Queenstown, New Zealand, December 2019.