Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely, stressful, and demanding job. This is especially true for small business owners trying to build themselves up. For many, the hustle is never-ending. Working 7 days a week with little to no rest, can seem like the only way to success. However, the hustle comes with a price. And for entrepreneurs without work-life balance, that price could be steep.
We all know how it goes. You begin with a slow start, and then you’re working nonstop to meet deadlines. After a while, it feels like you’re putting so much of yourself into the business that there’s nothing left for anything else in your life – family, friends, or personal health.
If this sounds familiar, this article is for you! We will discuss ways to create a healthy work-life balance. that leaves you feeling fulfilled while still hitting major goals. Read on to discover how to create boundaries between work and life, build healthier habits, and achieve balance to ensure you reach your goals while taking care of your mind, body, and soul.
What’s Work-life Balance for Entrepreneurs?
Many people use the term “work-life balance” to describe a happy and fulfilling work experience. For entrepreneurs, that typically refers primarily to finding enough time in one day for both your professional and personal life.
There are many different types of entrepreneurs, and they each have their own idea of what work-life balance means to them. Some will consider it a necessity, while others may see it as an added luxury or even unnecessary. No matter the case, there is one thing that all entrepreneurs must do if they want to succeed: be realistic about time management and understanding their needs.
The key reasons work-life balance can be so hard on entrepreneurs include stress, ambition, dedication, perfectionism, among others. The lack of financial stability, support from family members, and an overwhelming amount of tasks can also make it hard to strike a balance between professional and personal life.
Importance of Work-Life Balance for Entrepreneurs
Work-life balance is an important issue that can affect not only a business’s bottom line but also physical, mental, and social aspects. Workplace stress is related to hypertension, high cholesterol levels, heart disease, and diabetes, as well as lower cognitive performance. Stress also affects sleep patterns, which can lead to depression or other mental health issues such as anxiety disorders.
Research conducted by Stanford University shows that “Productivity per hour declines sharply when a person works more than 50 hours a week. After 55 hours, productivity drops so much that putting in any more hours would be pointless. And, those who work up to 70 hours a week are only getting the same amount of work done as those who put in the 55 hours.” A WHO report supports that study stating that “exposure to long working hours (≥55 hours/week) causes largely attributable burdens of ischemic heart disease and stroke.”
How Entrepreneurs Can Achieve Work-Life Balance
There are several things you can do to strike a better balance between your professional and personal obligations:
1. Forget About Perfection
The idea of an equal 50/50 balance between your personal and business life every day is ideal. In reality, this kind of work-life balance might be impossible for entrepreneurs to achieve. The truth is that the average person’s life is not the same every day. There are some days when you’re focused on work. On other days when you need to take care of personal needs. And then there are those in-between times when it feels like there isn’t enough time for either.
Instead of obsessing about striking a perfect balance, aim for a sense of equilibrium. You can do this by focusing on what’s most important in each area at any given time. For example, say you feel like your personal life is being neglected. Focus on how best to address those needs within a given timeframe. Take care of your needs by spending time with family or friends when needed. After that, you can better prioritize business tasks at other times. That way, you won’t feel guilty about neglecting your friends or sacrificing your work hours.
2. Be Clear on Your Values
To find work-life balance means being clear on your values. For most entrepreneurs, it is all too easy to neglect your personal goals and priorities. Making a lot of money could be every entrepreneur’s dream. But that isn’t all that will make you happier or more fulfilled. One could try to fill the void in their life with more success and wealth. However most people find their discontentment deepening by the day if they take this approach. This often stems from losing sight of your values and neglecting your goals in favor of more monetary success.
The key is to know what you value most so that you can define your priorities, and then find ways to make those things happen at work too. As in other areas of life, your business success hinges on you as a person. What really defines you? What do you want for yourself? How are you spending your time? Once you identify that, you’ll need a strategy that is both sustainable and fulfilling in the long term.
3. Lean on Your Support System
It’s easy to become protective of something you’ve built from the ground up, including a business. Many small business owners feel their businesses are their babies. This makes them feel the need to do everything themselves because they don’t want anyone messing up. They don’t trust anyone else with responsibilities in their wheelhouse, and some may even doubt anyone else’s capability to handle them.
This mindset may seem like it would be advantageous because it’s all about making sure everything gets done at 100%, but realistically, this will only lead to burnout and misery. No one person can be everywhere at any given time, and that means you might have to stretch yourself too thin sometimes. This leads to stress, anxiety, and an inability to focus on what matters most to your business.
Learn when to delegate tasks. Not every task needs your attention, so learn what’s important enough to handle personally and what someone else on your team can do. Let others do the tasks you don’t need to be hands-on so you have enough time to deal with mission-critical tasks. Identify your team’s strengths, and let them help you achieve things that they may be better at than you are.
Some small business owners choose to empower family and friends who want to help. Your spouse, kids, and even close friends can help you free up time for non-urgent activities and leave room for you to work on more urgent and essential tasks. You can also outsource tasks like accounting to an agency if you can’t afford to hire a full-time employee, and no one in your circle has the expertise.
4. Establish a Routine and Stick to It
There’s no one-size-fits-all schedule that works for all entrepreneurs. Everyone knows what works best for them. You know when you’re at your most productive, the time of day you perform the best, and generally how many hours a day you can devote to a task without becoming drained. Some people are night owls, others are early birds, and others fall somewhere between.
Whatever the case, setting aside specific times during your day to take care of business will leave you more energized and less stressed. Start by establishing a start and stop time routine where you take care of important tasks first before distractions set in and then create time for other non-urgent work. Remember, you only have limited time each day for various activities, so the goal should be getting more done in less time.
As experts point out, working more hours doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more productive than people who work fewer hours. Even though it might be challenging to reduce the long work week immediately, sticking to your schedule can help you work more effectively and make you more productive.
5. Schedule Time for Yourself
It’s easy to set time for everything and everyone else and forget yourself. However, you must remember that your business won’t exist without you.
Start by taking care of yourself: make sure you are getting enough sleep and exercising regularly so that you’re able to focus on the task at hand. Find your own balance between what’s best for you as an individual and what needs to get done for the business every day. It will take time, patience, perseverance, and maybe even help from others, but it’s doable.
For example, you might have to block some time each week for date nights with your partner or lunch with your friend. While that may take out the fun and spontaneity from your relationships for a while, doing that consistently might create a whole world of difference for you and your loved ones.
Family aside, create room to advance yourself in other areas too. Learn a new hobby. Take a new class. Listen to a podcast on entrepreneurship. Read a book. Whatever you decide, ensure you don’t save everyone else and forget to add value to yourself.
6. Go Easy on Yourself
The media and culture have glorified “having it all” with “no excuses” as some sort of status symbol to be envied by others. We see this message every day in our social media feeds, on television shows, and through conversations with friends or family. Trying to keep up with all that can be extremely exhausting.
As entrepreneurs, we need to stop perpetuating these false expectations or our own guilt about not living up to the “standards” set by people in different circumstances than ours. Just remember that every person on this planet has different values, priorities, and needs in their lives, and their businesses could be at different levels from yours.
Give yourself permission not to be perfect in all aspects of your business. It’s impossible anyway! Also, give yourself grace for real and perceived failures. Entrepreneurship is a tough gig, and you’ll likely make many mistakes before you achieve all your goals. The key is to learn from them and adjust your path accordingly.
7. Use Technology Wisely
The line between work and personal life has been blurred in recent years with the advent of technology. With email, social media, and mobile devices, it’s so easy to be constantly connected.
The downside of this is that we are also tempted to check emails or answer a phone call during dinner time, which can lead to a feeling of not getting away from work at all. It’s challenging to pay attention to other things if you’re constantly bombarded with messages, notifications, and other digital distractions.
An excellent way to maintain a balance is by setting clear boundaries with technology. Make sure you switch off your phone, tablet, or computer before leaving work for the day, don’t check emails at night or over the weekend, and use apps like “Do Not Disturb” on your phone to prevent notifications from popping up while you’re busy.
A healthy business owner equals a flourishing business. Despite everything going on in your professional life, you also need to take care of other aspects of your life. Some points to remember include allocating your time to maximize productivity while reducing stress, sticking to your schedule, and using technology wisely. Remember to go easy on yourself, and ask for help if you need it too. Finally, remember the goal is not having a perfect life but having a fuller, more fulfilling one!
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Larry Vivola is a successful business coach who coaches entrepreneurs anywhere in the world via Zoom. If he’s not coaching he’s making meatballs and entertaining friends and family!
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