How I Find Balance: Lola Rasminsky, Founding director, Avenue Road Arts School Inc., Toronto

Written by Susanne Ruder

Meeting both business and personal demands has long been a juggling act for women entrepreneurs. Between the long hours, travel, meetings and employee and customer challenges, there’s little time left for personal needs. Still, leading a rich, well-rounded life is as essential to your business success as it is to your sanity.

We ask Canada’s leading businesswomen to tell us how they effectively manage work/life balance. Each issue we’ll bring you the tactics and strategies that help women grow their companies and careers, while still finding a little “me” time.

This issue: Lola Rasminsky is the founding director of Avenue Road Arts School Inc., a Toronto visual- and performing arts school. She is also vice-president of Beyond the Box Inc., which provides creativity workshops and team-building training for corporate executives. Rasminsky also runs Arts for Children of Toronto, a registered charity that brings art, music, drama and dance programs to 8,000 inner-city children per year. In 2006, she received a Canadian Women Entrepreneur Award, and in June 2007 she was appointed a member of the Order of Canada for her work in education.

As a busy entrepreneur with a 60-hour-or-more work week, Lola Rasminsky doesn’t have much free time, but she knows how to make the most of what she’s got. Her secret? She engages in creative pursuits to help reduce stress, regain focus and tap into her potential.

Finding ways to engage in creative activities (such as drawing, singing or acting) helps you achieve a more balanced, centered state of mind, says Rasminsky. “I believe we have a primal need to engage our imaginations, and if we don’t, we can become depressed or disaffected,” she says. “[Through creative activities], we can really express who we are and have unlimited choices.” And you don’t have to be a Picasso or Pavarotti to see the benefits. Regardless of skill level, being creative “is so absorbing that everything else that’s bothering you just gets put on the back burner, and you’re focused on the moment and what you’re doing in that moment,” she says.

Rasminsky, 63, is part of a women’s writing group that has met each month for the past 17 years. “It’s marvelous to discover what you have going on in your head that you might not have known about,” she says. The experience also helps with her work-related writing such as speeches and grant proposals, she says. “It gives me the confidence that I can write without laboring too much. It seems to come more naturally.”

She also plays the piano. As a “very serious amateur,” recently Rasminsky performed in front of a crowd of 150-200 people and attended a chamber music camp last summer. Making such commitments, she says, is a good way to force yourself to take time out from work.

Connecting with her husband and two grown sons, and spending time at her family retreat near Creemore, Ont. is also important to Rasminsky. Lastly, she insists that infusing her day with laughter keeps her sane. “We laugh a lot,” she says, claiming that she married her husband in part for his sense of humour. “If I didn’t have that possibility of good belly laughs every day, I’d probably go off my rocker!”

“I spend a disproportionate amount of time either working on or thinking about work, but I do things for myself that are very important to me and help keep my sanity,” says Rasminsky. As a result, “I have a wonderful, rich, marvelous life, and I love every minute of it.”

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com