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Steve Ballmer's Secret For Balancing Work And Family: Use A Spreadsheet

Steve Ballmer and Connie BallmerAP/Evan VucciHusband Steve Ballmer with wife, Connie Ballmer

Microsoft’s former CEO, Steve Ballmer, often calls Microsoft his “fourth child.”

He poured his “heart, body and soul” into the company, he said during an onstage interview with the dean of Oxford’s school of business in his first public appearance since leaving the job.

When Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 he wasn’t married. When he left in February 2014, he was married and had three human kids, plus his fourth child, which had grown into the world’s largest software company with 100,000 employees worldwide.

When asked how he managed to balance work and family, he readily admits, “I won’t argue that I did it perfectly.”

But, he says, he really did try:

I kept a spreadsheet, a budget, of my time. How many nights am I going to travel? Be away from family? How do I allocate the time I have left?

With this spreadsheet he prioritised his schedule so that he could go to his kids’ athletic events. In hindsight, he says, he wished he balanced things better. But he said:

It’s also important to be a role model for my children on how gratifying life can be if you are professionally passionate.

Still, he warns others, whether you use a spreadsheet or not:

Be deliberate. Don’t let things happen to you.

I know a lot of CEOs always going someplace because they let their calendar be too open. They are not rigid enough about how they budget their time.

Controlling your time is an essentially characteristic no matter what you do.

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