Last Updated: May 15, 2018
When you run your own business, your work can quickly take over your life. Here are tips for keeping your work and life balanced, so you can have time to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
You know you should but how do you actually do it? Every self-help book says that good mental and physical health comes from establishing balance between work and personal life but there’s little indication that the business world holds that as a priority.
As an entrepreneur, you likely feel this even more. If you own a business, you don’t get sick days, vacation days, a retirement plan, or any of those other perks that come with working for a giant corporation. When you don’t work you don’t make money and when you don’t make money, your family suffers. With that in mind, it’s hard to get all “self-help” on yourself and think in terms of work-life balance.
But That’s Your Problem
It’s easy to fall into the mindset that working harder means better production. Throw more resources at a problem and the problem is solved better and faster, right? That’s rarely the case and if it works today, it’s certainly not a sustainable practice over the long-run.
Maybe the problem isn’t that work-life balance can’t work for you; maybe the problem is that you don’t know how to do it in a sustainable way.
What is Work-Life Balance?
It’s simple. Work-life balance means that at every moment of your life, you have this perfect, utopian balance between everything you do. Nothing is so important that it pushes something else out or to the side. Everything and everybody get their fair share of your time and energy and because of that, everything in your life is perfect.
Good luck living that lifestyle!
That might be what you think but in reality, healthy work-life balance is very different.
What is YOUR Balance?
If you’re single, just out of college, and embarking on a high-level career, your balance might be all work all the time with a day set aside for something you want to do. However, if you’re retired, traveling with your spouse with a contract or part time job thrown in from time to time might be what you call balance.
Balance is yours to make but each decision will have rewards and fallout. You may not have time to build that family you’ve always wanted to become a senior partner at your law firm, for example.
If that’s where you are in your life, don’t let others tell you that you’re right or wrong. However, you’re going to have a difficult time finding anybody who will tell you that sacrificing your health is worth a six-figure salary. Some things are non-negotiable.
Don’t Conquer the World at Once
So you’ve decided that your work-life balance needs some tweaking? Or maybe your spouse or your health decided that for you? If you’re goal is to completely change your life tomorrow, we’ll once again say, good luck with that.
How about picking one change? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Maybe you change how you work during the day in order to put the computer down at night. Want to find time to work out three times per week? Make it a family affair but pick one out-of balance area and address it. Once that becomes normal in your life, move on to the next.
Think Bigger When it comes to Your Schedule
We often think of our work schedule as something that happens weekly but often the ebbs and flows of our business, especially as an entrepreneur, feels more yearly. If you’re a retailer, your busy season is probably November and December. Wedding planners see their prime time in the summer.
Your balance will shift to your work during busy seasons but as long as you commit to paying yourself back later on, that still counts as balance.
Don’t Mix Work and Life
There’s a bit of double standard going on. We hear a lot about how we shouldn’t “take our work home with us” but when was the last time you heard that you shouldn’t take home to work? How engaged are you when you’re at work? If you concentrated only on your work when you’re at work, would you have more time for your family when you come home?
Clearly separate the two and be fully engaged during those times. Maybe the problem is that too many of us do a little bit of both all of the time.
Be Ready to Sacrifice
Let’s be clear—if you want balance, you’re going to make sacrifices. Saying yes to one person or activity means saying no to somebody or something else. Sometimes your “yes” is for a truly noble reason. You might have said yes to help a local charity fundraise but in doing that you said no to your family or business.
With balance comes focus. You can’t be everything to everybody. Instead you’re being a little to a lot of people and that makes everybody unhappy.
Think about what is important to you. You probably don’t want to give up your family or your business so put those at the top of the list. Health should be up there as well but most everything else might not make the cut.
Don’t let others dictate your balance but whatever you decide, commit to it. Constantly reevaluate and remember that working harder and longer doesn’t produce better results. Life is a marathon, not a sprint, right?
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