Entrepreneurs are known for their passion, dedication, and strong work ethic. Yet, these qualities can lead to all-night work sessions and the neglect of personal needs. Achieving a better work-life balance when you’re in charge of a business isn’t impossible. But it requires consciously scheduling the “life” part and becoming more productive at work.
One way to boost productivity is to automate repetitive, mundane tasks. Everything from sales prospect emails to client onboarding minutiae can be taken off your plate with the right software.
Beyond tech tools and automation, entrepreneurs can learn to prioritize and enhance efficiency by examining what work-life balance means. Since everyone’s idea of the “right” balance can vary, here are some general tips for juggling professional and personal success.
1. Schedule Everything
When asked how they achieved work-life balance, 24 entrepreneurs all came to one overarching conclusion: scheduling. And it does not just work tasks and business meetings you need to put on your calendar. Your schedule should also include the time you’ll spend with family and friends, exercising, or relaxing.
Besides scheduling personal time, it can help to establish regular work hours. Although it may be necessary to adjust for emergencies or time-sensitive requests, setting boundaries is important. Committing to work hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., for example, can ensure you’re able to put business aside.
Digital calendars and devices, in addition to project management applications, can keep track of your scheduled commitments and tasks. These tools can provide a snapshot of what you have left to accomplish and whether you have room for more. Some of these applications can generate reports to see how many hours you’re devoting to work versus your personal life.
2. Set Boundaries
When you’re passionate about what you do, it can be easy to keep working because it doesn’t feel like work. If you work at home or traveling, it can be tough to separate business and personal time. A best practice is to establish a home office space that is only used for work. If you think you’ll be tempted to head back to your desk after dinner, shut the door at the end of your workday.
You can also turn off devices you use for work, including computers and smartphones. Devices that keep you connected to your email and social media accounts can be problematic. Turning them off when you’re scheduled to be done with work eliminates distractions that take you away from personal needs. There are Wi-Fi solutions like Plume HomePass that even give devices a “time out” so you can be in control of your device use.
You should also set office hours and availability expectations with employees and clients. This can cut down on unnecessary communications, set an example, and build an organizational culture that values work-life balance.
3. Restore Through Recreation
Part of achieving a good work-life balance is finding out who you are outside of work. Your business is a part of your identity, but it probably doesn’t represent everything you enjoy. Exercise, even if it’s casual, can keep your health on track and release stress. Activities like playing tennis with friends can keep your mind sharp and make you more productive when you’re working.
Of course, hitting the gym or taking a walk isn’t the only way to unwind and avoid burnout. You might want to try painting, reading literary novels, or learning how to make pottery. Discovering a new hobby or reviving an old one can activate other parts of your brain and add meaning.
Sometimes it’s good to schedule a “do-nothing” day where you relax. Whether that’s getting out and observing nature or watching your favorite movies, incubating can inspire new ideas. If your body and mind have been overworked lately, relaxing can restore your energy and leave you feeling less taxed. You’ll be able to get back to work with a renewed sense of purpose.
4. Maintain Networks and Relationships
Isolation can increase stress and impede productivity and creativity. That’s why it’s important to maintain relationships at work. When you appear remote or unapproachable, it can reduce your team’s morale, leading to employee disengagement and a loss of output. To keep your employees motivated, you as a business leader need to engage.
Maintaining your professional networks is also key. Industry connections can offer insights and support you may not be able to get from co-workers, family, and friends. They’re also a vital resource when you need to brainstorm a solution to a business problem. In addition to regularly checking in with your professional peers, keep building your network through online and offline events.
Dedicating more hours to get your business or startup off the ground doesn’t mean your personal relationships should suffer. Just as your industry peers can offer support, so can your family and friends in ways your colleagues can’t. After all, your personal network knows you in different ways.
There’s the knowledge of the challenges you’ve been through outside of the office. Plus, there may seem besides of your personality you don’t readily reveal in a business setting. Friends and family can remind you of your resilience or point out positive attributes about yourself you may have overlooked.
Finding the Right Mix
Becoming an entrepreneur usually involves trading the predictability of traditional employment for the freedom of being your own boss. While long hours are part of the package, you don’t have to sacrifice a work-life balance that meets your needs. Knowing and accepting that you have limits are important first steps.
To achieve a good work-life balance, you’ll want to define what that looks like to you. Some business owners are OK with engaging in a few hobbies on the weekends. Others need to start most mornings with an hour of exercise before diving into work. It can help to experiment with structuring your work and personal time in various ways and seeing what feels best.
Once you find the right mix of work, play, and relaxation, you’ll see your enthusiasm and energy increase. Remember to schedule, prioritize, and use the tools that work best for you. The efforts you put into making you, your business, and your relationships succeed will soon start to pay off.