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If you don’t want to feel like a broken record player every single day of your life, you need something known as a work-life balance.
Don’t believe me? Just take a look at these stats:
One survey from the New York Enterprise Report found that small business owners work twice as much as regular employees. Yep, twice.
Just 57% of small business owners take vacations according to a study from OnDeck, and even then 67% of small business owners will check in to work at least once a day.
They say all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and we are no different.
If you want to stay productive, feel fulfilled, and stay efficient, you have to create an optimal relationship between your life and work. Otherwise, it’ll cost you both seriously — both mentally and physically.
But how do you do this?
In this guide, I’ll show you how you can find a work-life balance while managing a flourishing business.
Excited? Let’s start digging!
What Do We Mean by Work-Life Balance, and Why Is It Important?
A work-life balance means striking a healthy balance between your work and your personal life.
Contrary to popular belief, there doesn’t have to be an even split between the number of hours you spend at work and the hours you rest or play.
Rather the ‘’balance” here is more nuanced and varies depending on people. It means not sacrificing one in favor of another. Your career and leisure should be at the same level.
Think of it as an equilibrium between achievement and enjoyment.
According to Chris Chancey, a career expert and the CEO of Amplio Recruiting, a good life and work balance has several positive effects, including less stress, lower burnout risks, and a greater sense of well-being.
What’s more, a Boston University study found that managers couldn’t tell the difference between employees who worked 80-hour weeks and those who only pretended to do the same. Basically, all the employees were the same for them.
Now, think about it: Why sacrifice your personal life when you don’t even get the so-called benefit of doing all the extra work? And even if you do get the recognition, is it really worth your physical and mental well-being?
Understanding the Concept of Being “Overworked”
Merriam-Webster defines ‘overwork’ as working too hard, too long, or to exhaustion. It’s something that’s become prevalent today because there is no work-life balance for entrepreneurs or small business owners — or most of them.
People are missing out on important family events for work meetings, skipping dinner with friends for making presentations, and whatnot. What they don’t understand is that they’ll eventually turn into workaholics, lose contact with family, which, in turn, can seriously harm their mental and physical health negatively.
Quite a sad picture, right?
What Can Business Owners Do to Find Their Work-Life Balance?
Short-term success is just that, short-term. If you want to stay ahead in the long haul, you have to strike the right work-life balance in business.
Read on as I discuss some of the most effective work-life balance tips that can truly make a difference in your life.
Accept Imperfections, and Find Your Passion
When you hear the word “work-life balance,“ what is the first thing that comes to your mind?
A very productive 8-hour day at work, after which you live to spend time with your friends and family?
Unfortunately, it isn’t always possible.
For instance, there might be times when your children may need you, while other times, you might have to travel for work. Precisely why you shouldn’t strive to have the “so-called” perfect schedule — that’s not a realistic work-life balance.
Instead, aim to have a practical schedule, where some days you might end up focusing on work more, while on the others, you can spend a greater chunk of your day relaxing or pursuing your hobbies.
The important thing here is to remain fluid and constantly assess where you are and where you want to be.
That said, a crucial part of staying productive and focused on the job is to actually have a job you love. Work is an expected societal norm, yes. But your career shouldn’t feel restrained.
If you hate what you do, you won’t be happy and satisfied. It’s why you should love every aspect of your job. Your work must be exciting enough to make you not dread getting out of bed every morning.
The best tip? Find a job that you wouldn’t mind doing for free.
Of course, you don’t do it for free, but you can use this thought process to understand whether your current job is draining you and if yes, start applying for new jobs ASAP.
Also, it isn’t always about the nature of your job, your environment counts too. If you’re working in a toxic environment or with a toxic person, it’s time to find a new job.
Learn the Art of Prioritizing Work
The first step towards achieving the (almost) perfect balance between your professional life and personal life is creating the right schedule.
For this, you’ll have to categorize your workload. But how do you do this?
Suppose you have two babies. One is bawling their eyes out and ‘demands’ your immediate attention, while the other only ‘desires’ your attention and is willing to be patient. You’ll likely tend to and pacify the first child before the second since the latter is ready to wait
Your priority tasks are like the first baby. You just have to complete them right away to get things done, while the lesser important tasks are the second baby that can be postponed.
Your job is to identify the first baby and the second baby in your workload and create a schedule accordingly. In other words, you have to differentiate your more important tasks from less important ones.
The trick with prioritization is that you’ll have more time for your personal life. Although you do have to do some extra work initially, you can always reap the benefits of more time later in the future.
Moreover, the more choice you have when deciding your schedule, the more control you have over your life. You can use the extra wiggle room for self-improvement, spending time with your friends and family, or simply catching those Zzzs.
Work on Your Productivity Levels
While productivity is great, it isn’t enough. You have to be super productive to accomplish more in less time.
Successful small business owners and entrepreneurs understand the importance of being super productive. After all, it’s how they climbed the ladder of success. It’s also the easiest way to enjoy a healthy work-life balance.
There’s only one rule for this: You have to get more done on the job to have more free time. Unfortunately, things aren’t exactly in black and white, which is why you should create your own productivity system.
To ensure you stay productive at home and on the job, you have to get three things correct: Time management, organizational skills, and theming. Here’s how to do it:
Mastering time management is really the only way to create a schedule that leaves you lots of wiggle room for your work and personal time.
Mastering time management is really the only way to create a schedule that leaves you lots of wiggle room for your work and personal time.
Organization and productivity go hand-in-hand. When you are well-organized, you won’t have to waste any time and effort looking for specific things to do certain tasks.
Additionally, your organizational skills shouldn’t be limited to the physical location of things — I’m also talking about your thoughts. Try to easily sort through your mental list of ideas and tasks to do at home and in your personal life.
When you theme your everyday life — days, weeks, and months — you won’t find yourself spending time thinking about what to do. As such, you’ll be able to completely focus on the task at hand, which will not only bring you better results but also let you take plenty of time off.
For example, you can do client meetings on Monday, networking on Tuesday, self-promotion day on Wednesday, catch up with friends on Saturdays, and so on. Plus, not many business owners are aware of the benefits of theming. So if you succeed in getting it right, you’ll have an advantage over your competitors.
Create and Respect Your Boundaries
Boundaries are important to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In fact, it’s when people can’t set and stick to their boundaries that their work starts taking over their personal life, and vice versa.
When we talk about setting boundaries, we mean creating limits concerning your work.
You should keep aside specific days and time slots for personal interests when you just won’t do anything work-related. And while this may sound easy, it certainly isn’t. More so for business owners and entrepreneurs who are practically “married“ to their jobs.
You may argue that some of them are relevant to your workday, and if that’s the case, it’s completely okay. Maybe you have to be on social media to promote your business or study market trends. Or you have to email a client to clarify a doubt.
These distractions are justifiable, yes. But you still have to learn to minimize them.
Below are a few actionable tips that can help you set boundaries successfully. Let’s take a quick look:
As a business owner, it’s natural to want to be bigger and better. No doubt, being ambitious is an exceptional quality, but this shouldn’t be at the cost of a healthy balance where your life is concerned. In other words, you should respect the fact that you can’t pursue your goals non-stop. Otherwise, you risk facing serious burnout.
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of being super productive, let’s discuss the biggest obstacle in becoming one: Too many distractions!
You can’t be productive if you’re constantly distracted. It’s why you have to focus on minimizing distractions to have ample time to pursue your personal interests.
But what exactly is a distraction? Anything that gets in the way of doing your work properly is a distraction. It’s as simple as that.
The problem is that the world we live in has us constantly surrounded by distractions. Take our phone, for example. Suppose you plan on going through your office reports on your smartphone, you’ll constantly get text messages, social media notifications, emails, phone calls, other notifications… the list goes on.
And what are these? Distractions!
You should avoid texting your friends or family while at work, checking emails unnecessarily every 10 minutes, or scrolling through social media randomly. Not only are these activities time-consuming, but also make you unproductive.
Don’t worry, though. I got you.
Here are the five best tips that I found to help improve focus and beat distractions at work.
Identify Your Triggers
Answer this: What do you think causes your most time-consuming behavior at work?
Everyone has specific work-related stressors that cause them to become unproductive. You may not be able to recognize these stressful emotions immediately, which is why you need to take a deep breath, relax, and ask yourself a few questions.
Why was I stressed just now? What am I trying to avoid? What irks me so much in this project?
The only way you can truly know your triggers is through self-reflection. This will prevent you from falling down a rabbit hole of YouTube playlists or random videos of cute cats on Facebook.
Once you know your triggers, just do your best to avoid them, or face them head-on and overcome them — the choice is yours!
Try to Batch Check Over Sporadic Checking
Do you find yourself checking your email every third minute just to see whether you have anything new in your inbox?
If yes, you need to stop.
Incessant checking can cause up to 40% productivity loss over the course of a day, which makes sense considering it takes us approximately 23 minutes to get back into the zone after switching tasks.
Instead of constantly checking your messages, emails, or social media throughout the day, try to check them in bulk. Go through all your platforms at predetermined times to avoid getting tied down on a specific app.
You can also consider downloading tools like Gmail’s Inbox Pause plugin if you feel you lack self-control. It’ll pause your inbox once you’ve checked it, and only unpause it whenever you’re ready. Freedom and Blocksite applications are other tools that allow you to block access to specific websites and apps during specific intervals.
Trust me, they work like magic.
Organize Your Workspace to Minimize Visual Distractions
Not many people realize the importance of having a clean and organized workspace.
If you have tons of incoming work, only keep the project you are currently working on in front of you. The idea here is to make your workspace less chaotic, and keeping all the work right in front of you won’t help with that.
Find Time to Meditate Regularly
Meditation will help your mind let go of interrupting thoughts and focus on one thing at a time. All you have to do is sit quietly in a place for 3 to 5 minutes a day, where you close your eyes and count to 34.
Sitting completely still may be difficult at the beginning since the mind tends to wander to other thoughts that could prevent you from getting to 34. However, you must be persistent and let go of that thought without judgment and count again to get back on track.
Eventually, when you get a better hang of things, you can extend the time to suit your schedule.
Practice Asynchronous Communication
We commonly associate anything workspace-related with arbitrary urgency. What you need to do instead is think: “I will get to this when it suits me.”
This mindset is a part of asynchronous communication. It gives people more time for an interrupted focus and facilitates better decision-making by increasing the amount of time you have to respond to a request.
When you’re on a phone call or video chat, you make real-time decisions. On the other hand, when you communicate via email, you have more time to think about your response. Besides this, you can also optimize an asynchronous message by keeping in mind a few factors when formulating a request, such as:
Embrace Delegation and Automation
I get it: As a solopreneur or a small business owner, you are always under this constant pressure to give your very best to boost your profit and grow your business. Mistakes are something you just cannot afford, so you may think you should do everything by yourself. After all, who would want you to be more successful than yourself?
That’s where you are wrong, though.
You can’t do everything — even when it feels like the only option. You have to learn to delegate your tasks among employees and hire more people or automate tasks by investing in quality software tools.
The good news is that automation and delegation can help you save an ample amount of time, along with assuring higher accuracy.
If you are running solo, you can use certain tactics to automate your tasks to make sure you don’t end up doing everything by yourself. If you have a small team of employees, lay down job expectations, and give instructions about how you want them to be fulfilled.
All this will be time-consuming (and frustrating!) at first. However, once the training period is over, you’ll be left with lots of time to focus on more important aspects of your business or simply take time off to spend time with family.
Think of the initial effort as an investment that will be huge dividends.
Let me explain delegation in a bit more detail.
Suppose you hire a new employee who doesn’t know how to use your ordering system. It’ll take some time for this employee to become proficient, and it may mean you have to do extra work in the beginning, but once they learn the nitty-gritty, they won’t need your guidance anymore.
Ultimately, a routine task will be of your hands, freeing you up for more personal time to enjoy yourself with friends and family.
Here’s a list of tasks that you should delegate by either hiring more employees or outsourcing your work:
You can always add to this list based on your needs.
When you’re out there delegating, don’t restrict yourself to your business. You can apply the same logic to your work environment.
Considering you’re already short on time and don’t enjoy doing house chores (really, who likes washing dishes every day?), you can get someone to do them for you. You can pay an individual looking to earn extra cash by hiring them to do tasks like cleaning gutters, washing windows, doing yard work, laundry, and grocery shopping, among several others.
You can also offer training materials to know employees and interns as a means to speed up training. The employees can study and reference the material to perform the job without needing your direct guidance, saving you lots of training time.
Hiring a Business Coach: Your Shortcut to Maintaining an Optimal Work-Life Balance
All the tips I discussed above are powerful and can effectively change the way you live your life.
The only catch? You have to do them correctly and remain dedicated.
The thing is that not everyone can implement the strategies into their daily lives, and end up struggling with work-life balance. Sometimes they need expert help and guidance — something that a business coach provides.
Before you consider hiring a business coach as an unnecessary expense, let me stop you right there: That certainly isn’t the case.
Business coaches are everything business owners need in their lifes. Not only do they provide you with 100% dedicated attention, but can also help you find your way and position to a place where you wish to see yourself.
You can use their experience and expertise to your advantage and become more responsible and more focused.
Remember that quote from Game of Thrones that goes, “When winter arrives, the lone wolf dies, but the pack survives?“
Currently, you are a lone wolf — one who won’t survive for long without additional support. But when you hire a good business coach, you become a team of two — a pack who’ll do more than just survive. You’ll win.
Moreover, a business coach gives you more clarity and helps you become more focused to accelerate your growth. You ultimately become a more successful version of yourself. They can help you utilize your available resources in a way that boosts productivity and create a schedule to effectively separate your work from your personal life, which, in turn, will build a healthy work-life balance.
Whether it’s managing your emotions better, facilitating maximum productivity from yourself, or becoming self-aware and focused, business coaches can truly transform your life.
So don’t rule the idea of hiring one if you feel you need more help.
You have to give your all to manage your personal and professional life. After all, this insanity isn’t going to be over — ever.
There’s always going to be a last-minute job, a last-minute assignment, or a pending deadline. While there is nothing wrong with trying to meet your career goals, this definitely shouldn’t be at the cost of your personal life and your relationships with your friends, family, and acquaintances.
I hope my work-life balance tips for entrepreneurs and business owners help you strike the right balance between work and play and lead a better life.
Want to learn more secrets to become a successful business owner while maintaining a great work-life balance? Make sure you check out our free e-book 6 Winning Strategize to Growing A Business Fast while maintaining a great work-life balance.
Go get ‘em.