How to Achieve Work-Life Balance
As an entrepreneur, it can be hard to step away from your laptop, especially if it means reducing time spent on a project for an important client. It’s important to understand not only your own work ethic as a business owner but your limits as one, too. Long work hours can have a negative effect on your personal life, and the last thing you want is to feel burnt out on the business you’ve spent so long building.
What Is Work-Life Balance?
When you first think of work-life balance, you may think of being on a beach somewhere while periodically checking your email — perfectly balanced in between work and leisure. However, that’s not quite it.
While work-life balance does involve taking time for your personal life and development, it’s all about prioritizing certain activities in your personal and professional life (and about drawing boundaries between the two). Those lines are often blurred when you’re building or maintaining a business, oftentimes to the detriment of the entrepreneur. A work-life imbalance can lead to more burnout and chronic stress, which can in turn lead to mental health issues such as anxiety or depression, not to mention health issues like hypertension or indigestion.
If this sounds familiar, or you think you may be on your way to an imbalance in your life, there are several significant ways to reshape your workload in order to rebalance these two important scales.
How to Improve Your Work-Life Balance
Here’s the good news: a work-life imbalance can always be re-balanced. When you’re in the throes of a work-life imbalance, it can feel difficult to find a way to draw those imperative boundaries, especially when stress and tensions feel like they’re skyrocketing. These seven tips are actionable and easy to incorporate into your workday in order to get that life balance back.
1. Take Breaks
One of the quickest and easiest ways to achieve work-life balance is to take plenty of scheduled breaks throughout the day. Working without taking any breaks is a lot like leaving your foot on the gas pedal — at some point, you’re going to lose control.
Not only can taking breaks prevent burnout, but it can even help you stay more productive throughout the day. Try setting a timer for yourself: work for 45 minutes to an hour, and then take a 15-20 minute break.
2. Delegate Tasks
As an entrepreneur, it can be all too easy to take on a workload that’s too heavy. As your own business owner, you’re responsible not only for doing the work your clients/customers need, but you’re also your own accountant, marketing team, and then some. Whenever possible, try to delegate smaller tasks to others on your team.
Remember: When delegating, always provide clear instructions on why you’re delegating and how you would like a certain task completed at the outset. This will help to minimize confusion and should give you a good idea of who on your team can handle what (but more on that later).
3. Create a Reasonable Schedule
Having a healthy work-life balance is all about prioritizing the tasks in your professional and personal life, which is why creating a schedule for yourself is a great way to maintain those priorities.
Not only that, creating a schedule for yourself also allows you to:
- Stay organized
- Optimize your tasks
- Improve your time management skills
- Form healthier habits
- Stay on task/procrastinate less
- Hold yourself accountable
But where to begin? Start by writing everything down that you need to get done — both personal and professional. This will help you begin to identify your priorities. From there, you can group your tasks together or order them throughout the week as you wish.
4. Hire People You Trust
It goes without saying, but working with people you trust is everything for an entrepreneur. Knowing that the people on your team will be able to get the job done while you focus on bigger-picture opportunities or that well-earned weekend trip is crucial to your business.
This also goes for the professional side of things: hiring potential vendors or clients who are trustworthy will not only be good for business, but the less you have to worry about someone not following through, the more time you’ll have to prioritize your other tasks.
5. Work on Communication
Delegating tasks and hiring people you trust all hinge on good, strong communication skills. Do your team members know what’s expected of them? Are clients being told what kind of work they’ll be receiving? No matter your business needs or deliverables, communication is key.
Being a good communicator not only allows you to lay out expectations but also helps the people you work with understand your work-life balance priorities. For example, if being home for dinner each night is one of your priorities or tasks, it’s important that your team knows that, too.
Ultimately, good communication helps eliminate confusion, boost productivity, and even improves employee morale. You can call that a win-win-win.
6. Learn to Say ‘No’
A good work-life balance is not only about prioritization, it’s also about boundaries. Learning to say no to certain projects or tasks may be hard at first, but it is ultimately a great way to steady the push and pull of your career and personal life.
You don’t have to say “no” to something big. You could start off with smaller things, like not checking your email after 5:00 p.m. to focus on more personal matters or making sure your team has a clear and organized working schedule that doesn’t include too much overtime.
7. Know Yourself and Your Limits
Ultimately, achieving a work-life balance as an entrepreneur is all about knowing your limits. Start by asking yourself, “What would be my ideal balance between work and home?” Does that mean not checking your email after a certain time? Or, does it mean being home for dinner and being able to tuck your kids into bed in the evenings? The beauty of entrepreneurship means that you get to define your work hours and what’s important to you.
Once you’ve defined these things for yourself, it’s time to implement them. Start by writing out those ideal priorities and incorporate them into the schedule you’ve made for yourself. This will give you a better idea of how to achieve your ideal work-life balance.
Understanding your own limits is the first step. This may not happen overnight, but practice makes perfect (and work-life balance is a continual, mindful one). You deserve a healthy work-life balance — don’t let your mental health or your business suffer because of it.