Money & Career

Time management tips: a day in the life of an entrepreneur

Toronto-based clothing manufacturer Kathy Cheng has over 100 full-time employees, and clients that include Roots, Coach and Holt Renfrew. Here's how she balances factory and family.
Kathy Cheng Kathy on the WS & Co. factory floor in Toronto. Photo, Erik Putz.

Age: 39 Lives: Toronto Telling details: Married with two toddlers, ages two and three

What’s the first thing you do in the morning? Check the weather on my phone, so I know how to dress my kids.

What’s your general philosophy on work-life balance? Accept that your priorities will always be fluid. My mother-in-law picks up the kids a few days a week and helps prepare dinner. On those days, I’m able to give myself fully to my team. Sometimes I need to leave early. I let my team know, so they can manage their work around my schedule.

What’s something you’ve had to let go of? The little things — like how tidy my home is. My kitchen counter used to be clean, with a place for everything. Now it just piles up.

Who do you rely on? My husband supports me in every aspect of my life, from business to being a really caring father and fun life partner. And my mother and mother-in-law. But I don’t limit my support network to people I know. I love connecting with new people because, through them, I get a fresh perspective, life lessons and professional advice.

What’s your biggest time suck? Sitting in traffic before picking up the kids. It can take up to an hour to get to the daycare.


What’s one thing you always make time for? A cup of Starbucks coffee every morning. It’s the 15 minutes of my workday that I have total control of.

What’s your most productive time of the day? After 9:30 p.m., when I feel like I’ve wrapped up all my personal and team commitments and can take care of the work on my desk.

What’s the last thing you do at night? Catch up with the news on Twitter — it’s my nighttime reading.

Do you have a motto that you live by? Be resilient. If you fail, pick yourself up and go at it again. Resilience drives you to be the best you can be.

Kathy’s go-to gear

Google calendar: It lets me manage expectations on all levels: kids’ schedules, work deadlines, even date nights with my husband.


Moleskine: I keep a running list of things to do. I always tell my team: Have a notebook, not a piece of paper, because paper flies all over the place.

Our apparel: I wear at least one piece a day. It’s a constant reminder to maintain our high quality standards. I believe you have to wear it to feel it.


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