Six Ways Improve Your Work-Life Balance
When you own your own business, it can often seem like you are constantly in high gear, working long hours and at a taxing pace. While all of that effort can help you get ahead of the competition it can also disrupt the balance of your work and your life, leading to burnout, and in effect taking yourself out of the running completely.
However, this does not mean it is impossible to achieve or does not exist. In this article we will explore six strategies, gathered from the experience of small business owners and entrepreneurs, that can help you along your business journey to avoid burnout, and find the work-balance solutions that work for you and your business.
For many years the search for the mythical “work-life” balance has been elusive, and some would even go so far as to say it does not exist. The truth of the matter is there is no one way to achieve the work-life balance that works for you. It is as personal a process as the creation of your business itself.
Set Boundaries and Maintain Them
Creating boundaries can apply to and benefit your work and personal lives in many ways, but the most crucial boundaries you can set for yourself and your business pertain to working hours. Many small business owners become victims to the mindset that in order to succeed they must constantly be working around the clock, sacrificing family, sleep, leisure time, and personal well-being.
The long-term effects maintaining a break-neck pace, of sleep deprivation and exhaustion, can seriously derail your ability to conduct business and to attend to your personal relationships as well. By establishing the following boundaries, it is possible to get back on track.
Increased connectivity can make you feel you must be available at all times. By determining when and how you are available for business and personal inquiries you can mitigate some of this pressure. There will always be exceptions to the rule like emergencies, but barring the failure of your products or services, there is often a way to successfully manage expectations for how long it will take to resolve the situation. This applies to your personal life as well.
Set specific work hours and stick to them. Determine when you are going to take time off and embrace your personal time.
Find ways to create a physical and emotional separation between your work life and your personal life. Whether you work from a room in your home or an external office it is important to be able to “leave your work at the office”.
Embrace the idea of give and take
There will always be days when your business requires more (or less) of your attention. The same is true for your personal life. By paying attention to the ebb and flow of the demands on your attention you can gain important perspective and allocate your focus to where and when it is really needed.
For example, when you first began your business perhaps you worked long hours to get it off the ground, forcing you to sacrifice your personal and family time. It is important to look at the larger picture and realize that you will not always place such high demands on your attention, and that at some point you will have to step back and recharge in order to continue.
Your health is your greatest asset in life and in business. When you are mentally and physically healthy you are better able to tackle the challenges that your business may throw at you. If you have healthy routines that you have already established, make sure you keep them up. If you do not, try to take some time for yourself to develop a strategy for keeping healthy such as focusing on getting exercise into your routine, or improving your diet.
Don’t be afraid to delegate
Delegating can be an excellent tool for helping you carve out more time. It is important to determine which tasks must be performed by you and which tasks can be handled by someone else. If you do not have employees this could mean looking to third-parties, technologies, or hiring someone part-time. If you do have employees trust in their competence and ability to get the job done.
It can be difficult to let go, but it is important to remember the more you hold onto tasks and projects the less likely it is that your business can grow.
Ask for Help
When you start feeling overwhelmed consider tapping into your support system. Chances are there is at least one person in your life (or even a few) you can go to for help. Whether it is business advice, emotional support, or strategic help getting support can make a huge difference in your emotional state and motivation.
Learn the power of ‘No’ and how to use it
Learning to overcome the fear of saying ‘No’ is both the hardest lesson to learn and the most important. Many people will make demands on your time and attention, some valid and some not. It is crucial to analyze these demands to discern which is worth your (limited and precious) time and which are not. It can be difficult to overcome the fear a ‘No’ generating conflict, disappointment, or missed opportunities, but if you are clear and considered about your feelings it will be much easier give the answer which is right for you and your business, and you are much more likely to maintain the confidence and respect of those around you.
Any entrepreneur or small business owner can tell you, creating harmony between your personal and professional lives is a tricky balancing act. By taking the time to take care of yourself, set boundaries, ask for help, and maintain perspective you may be able to find the balance that works for you and your business.