19.10.20 A Moment With…Phil Jones on why his work life balance is now the best it’s ever been.

Phil Jones

I would actually go as far as to say that my work life balance is the best it has ever been. It’s a shame I had to wait until I was older to be able to take advantage of it but I am now making the most of it.
Phil Jones

An entrepreneur, family man and forward thinker, the B Project sat down with Phil Jones – a founder of many successful businesses and movements in the creative/digital space. In this B moment, we talk to Phil about how he is non apologetic about his ability to ‘do nothing’ after years of hard work building and supporting businesses and how he appreciates family above all else.

How do you take time out for yourself?
I think the answer to this has changed over the decades. In my younger days, football played a huge part in this. I used to play football every Saturday and Sunday and met lots of people who became friends through engaging with them weekly. These days I am fortunate that finding “me time” is much easier as my role is mainly as a non-executive and advisor which allows me the flexibility to choose the times and dates I work. Technology has also been amazingly helpful in allowing me to work between our home in the UK and our holiday home in Portugal. Up until 2020, I was working with 10 different agencies and juggling time between each of them but I found I wasn’t able to give them all my 100% focus and during 2020, I consciously reduced this to four which has positively impacted the time I have for myself.

Do you regularly schedule time for yourself?
Again the answer to this has changed significantly with age. Certainly in the days where I was running a business (with all the risks that went with it), I was poor at scheduling time for myself. These days, I no longer work full time and I now regularly take time out for myself. This is made easier as I don’t have any set hours and with the events I organise annually, I try and choose dates that work for my own lifestyle – usually before or after holidays. When my children were young, I never had the experience of taking them to school or attending school events, with grandchildren I have much more time to be able to do this and it is a real pleasure.

Do you find it hard to take time out for yourself? Why?
In my later years, this has become much easier as my children have both grown up and we are in the ‘grandchildren’ chapter.  Due to being successful in business when I was in my thirties, we bought a plot of land in Portugal and built a villa at a time when I was 100% focused on business. At the time we did this our children were young and I could never get much time off work so we were unable to use the villa in any meaningful way for many years and we came to think it was a mistake. This all changed after 2004 when I moved into a consultancy role and was able to work remotely and the villa became a source of huge pleasure for our family with big anniversaries being celebrated there and my daughter being married there. I would now describe it as one of the best investments we made as those priceless memories are with us forever. I would actually go as far as to say that my work life balance is the best it has ever been. It’s a shame I had to wait until I was older to be able to take advantage of it but I am now making the most of it.

Are you good at doing nothing?
Yes! These days I find “doing nothing” is quite enjoyable as long as I can tie it in with things I love such as reading a good book or watching a good movie. I think the fact that I had to work so hard for so many years whilst building and running my businesses is the reason why I don’t feel any guilt at all with taking time out. In my younger days, I was always doing something work related during my spare time. I even interrupted holidays to fly home for the D&AD Awards or other industry events I felt were important to the business.

I think over the years, as I have had the chance to spend more time with my grandchildren, I look back on the years I had with my own children. For 13 years, my wife and I chose to live apart 5 days of the week as I built my business in London and she lived with the children in a safe and less hectic environment away from London. I was with them every weekend from Friday to early on a Monday. In hindsight, although the financial benefits of doing this allowed us to be able to invest in a home in Portugal and to send our children to private schools etc I think not seeing the children every morning or evening to talk about school matters meant I missed out and so did the children. It’s because of this focus on work at the expense of family I have no problem these days enjoying doing nothing and playing a part in watching our grandchildren grow up and see more of our grown up children.

What do you wish you had more time for?
Family! Family has always been important to me and watching our children build their own lives, meet lovely partners and get on the housing ladder etc has been a real joy.  I am one of three children and my sisters and their children and grandchildren are all based in Manchester. With my busy life in London, we tend not to see much of that part of the family and I often feel tweeks of guilt as I wish I had more time to keep in touch and see them more.

I mentioned previously that for a period of 13 years, my wife and I lived apart during the week while I focused on building a business. Whilst I was doing that for all the right financial reasons for family, it meant I didn’t have enough of those special family moments that I now cherish. Celebrating a birthday for our 5 year old or 3 year old grandchildren is such a special pleasure as is cuddling up and reading a book to them or sitting watching peppa pig or postman pat. Playing hide & seek is another revelation. Attending sports day is a real treat that evaded me for many many years. Basically, I think everything relating to work over many years has been to give the family the best possible opportunities but unless you find time to spend with them, it doesn’t make sense. I should have cut the time in half that we spent apart during the work & build phase because as the years go by, the importance of family shines through above all other things.

Shop Now