Entrepreneurs, freelancers, startup creators and small business owners often find themselves needing worklife balance tips more than other types of workers. While the average good employee may be able to clock out at 5 p.m. on Monday afternoon and only check their email a few times before returning to work at nine a.m. the following day, small business owners find themselves “always on.” Some prefer working all the time (looking at you, workaholics) but others (or their spouses) may feel exhausted and like something is missing when they’re working so much.
If you’re looking for work life balance tips, you’ve come to the right place.
What is work life balance?
I’ll tell you what work-life balance is: living. L-I-V-I-N-G. Work-life balance is all about designing your schedule to reflect your values. It looks like putting in long hours at work while still having the time to take the long route home when you’re hanging out with friends. It looks like meeting all of your deadlines yet always being on time to your niece’s soccer game. Work life balance is all about doing a really great job in all aspects of your life: career and all the other stuff that matters: managing friendships, a home, hobbies, and spending time with your loved ones.
Why do small business owners need work life balance tips more than a corporate employee?
We aren’t trying to single anyone out. We don’t want to make things awkward. But, as mentioned earlier, work life balance is more difficult for a certain subset of workers. The main reason for this: if your business belongs to you and you’re your own boss, then your work can become more valuable to you. Your small business feels like your baby: you’re nurturing it and (hopefully) watching it grow. You’ve got to take care of it, because if you don’t, no one else will be able to take care of the slack.
Who sets your schedule?
Another reason that work life balance is difficult for small business owners and freelancers is because they don’t have clear boundaries between where work ends and life begins. If work looks like checking your emails on your phone in your pajamas sometimes and you’re in those same pajamas picking up your phone first thing in the morning to turn off your alarm–well, that doesn’t give you a lot of opportunity to separate the two. If your business number is directly routed to your personal phone, it may feel like you’re always on call.
Why is work life balance important?
A work-life balance is important for you, your business and the people you care about. If you’re spending all your time working, that probably leaves your dog feeling pretty lonely. Or your cat. Or spouse. Whatever applies. The people and pets in your life deserve to have you around now and YOU also deserve a break. Everyone needs a little alone time to reflect or do the things they enjoy. After a moment away from
Ways you can tell that your work life balance suffering
Does it feel like you’re always on call?
If you try to get some time in to meet up with friends, are you taking a lot of business-related calls that distract you? Work-life balance is all about call screening when you’re taking time away from the office. It’s about compartmentalizing your life so that you don’t feel like you’re always on. (And, hey, a good receptionist, whether he is in-person or a virtual receptionist at an answering service can help with that. Just sayin’.)
Are you leaving people waiting?
Are you placing your mother on hold so that you can try to sell to a client on the other line? Have your call wait times become so unbearable that people are hanging up?
Is your wife fed up? Did the dog start leaving you surprises on your rug? Are you exhausted?
There’s all kinds of ways to determine if you’re overworked and need some work-life balance tips, STAT. Chances are that if you’re reading this, you need help.
Actionable work life balance tips
Get your priorities in order.
What are your core values? What is most important to you? Would you like to grow your small business to be a huge corporation or would you like to keep things small, simple and not feel rushed during the holidays? Take some time for introspection and decide exactly what it is that you want for the future. Your strategies and your time should reflect this.
Know when to step away from work. You don’t need to answer emails at the dinner table with your family. You don’t need to multitask on your laptop during your kid’s soccer game. When you’re off, you’re off. That way, you’ll save more energy for when you’re on.
You’ll have to learn when to say no to distractions, as well as learn how to say no to some requests that come your way. This is why you’ve got to figure out your priorities first and foremost. Once you know your values, you’ll know what to say no to and more time will be available for what you find to be important.
Track your time.
The only way to know the answer to “Where does all of the time go?” is to start. writing. it down. Some employers require their staff to use project management software that clocks in the amount of time spent on each task. For others, this doesn’t come so naturally. Spend a few days tracking the amount of time you spend on what you do.
People who are notoriously late don’t do it to be rude. (Though it may feel like it.) They do it because they miscalculate how much time it will take to do…well, everything. They think they’ll take a five minute shower and be at brunch in fifteen minutes. But, their showers usually take thirty minutes and the restaurant is on the other side of town.
You don’t have to be that person anymore.
Schedule it. All of it.
Whenever the word time is included in a statement about why you can’t have work life balance, poor time management is likely the culprit. Now that you know how much time it takes you to do things at work and at home, you should begin to plan your day accordingly. If you’re not already employing a well-used calendar, get to it!
I know, you can’t always schedule everything. A natural disaster could strike, and send your small business into disaster recovery mode. But if you’ve scheduled everything ahead of time, you’ll be less in a pinch when something urgent comes up.
If you know you can’t go all day without checking your Instagram feed, go ahead and pencil i a few minutes of it into your schedule. That way, you’ll limit the amount of time spent distracted.
Unplug for the weekend.
Or an hour. Or ten minutes. Whatever is appropriate for the line of business you are in.
Exercise or Meditate.
Balance is not only about completing tasks related to your work life and your social life. Work life balance is also about taking proper care of yourself.
Meditation as a work life balance tip isn’t new science, and I’m sure you’ve already hard a thing or two about the benefits of exercise for your mood and mental health. I don’t think I need to elaborate much on this for you. Just get in the chair or on the treadmill already, and reap the benefits.
This post may or may not have been written while the author switch back and forth between this tab online shopping. Hey, some days are better than others, and we can’t always get it right. But single tasking is where it is at, y’all. This could’ve gotten written yesterday had I followed this advice.
Don’t make my mistakes!
Stop worrying about perfection.
Perfectionism is the enemy of prioritization, but it’s BFFs with procrastination. Done is always better than perfect, and you’re wasting time caring about details of something that will rarely be noticed by another person. Get the job done, and stop exceeding your bandwidth for what you care about. You can’t care about everything, there isn’t enough time in the world.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to have other people on your team do tasks that will free up some time for you. This goes for your at-home team, too. If things are getting a little hectic at work but you still want to be able to go the the barbecue this Sunday, ask if your wife can take on the laundry for just this weekend. Don’t be afraid to shift duties around.
Stop being a slave to your inbox.
I hate to break it to you, but you’re wasting a lot of your precious time writing, checking and responding to emails. Proper email etiquette isn’t enough. Email productivity is crucial if you’re looking to spend less time focused on little things and more time on what matters most to you.
Look at your lifestyle
Work life balance is all about taking care of yourself and having everything together. This includes sleeping well and eating well. Are you taking good care of yourself?
Give yourself something to look forward to. Every day or every week, and no less than that. Treat yourself to something nice: a relaxing walk through the park, a trip to the art museum, some time set aside to read the book all your friends have been talking about, or watching the latest episode of Games of Thrones. Whatever floats your boat, make time for simple joys in your life. Don’t wait for a vacation to feel pampered.
Respect your personal time.
I’d doubt you’d cancel a meeting with a client, so you shouldn’t cancel on yourself, either. You should already be scheduling in time for yourself, so don’t cross it out in favor of more work. Follow through. It’ll make you a better boss.
Check on your progress.
Work life balance tips are great and all, but this is a multi-step process and a never-ending journey. Check in with yourself regularly to reflect on whether or not you continue to balance the different aspects of your life.
Apply this to your small business…
Who was it that said, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy?” Is that even the quote? Regardless, don’t fall prey to overwork and under-living. Life shouldn’t be worked away, and your business doesn’t have to suffer just because you took care of yourself for a change.
Now try this:
Keep a list of the following actionable work life balance tips handy and visible as a reminder to not just hone in on one aspect of your life:
- Get your priorities in order.
- Set boundaries.
- Track your time.
- Use a schedule.
- Single task.
- Unplug and step away from technology.
- Exercise and meditate.
- Shun perfection.
- Manage your email.
- Sleep and eat well.
- Have something to look forward to.
- Respect your personal time.
- Check in on your progress.