When you are running your own business, you don’t work fixed hours. If there is a job that needs completing, you will continue to work until you have finished the job. Even when you have called it a day, it can be difficult to switch off. It can be hard to forget work even when you are relaxing and spending time with your family. If you are not careful, work will take over your entire life. That will not be good for you. And it won’t be much fun for your family either. But, the demands of running a business are immense.
So, is it possible to be a successful entrepreneur and have a fulfilling social and family life as well? The answer to that question is yes. But you must take positive steps to make it happen. Here are 10 tips to help entrepreneurs get the work-life balance right.
1. Make Your Own Welfare One of Your Priorities
It is likely that you do keep to-do lists for work-related tasks now, but do you do the same for personal activities? Include your leisure activities and family time on your list of priorities. It may seem a little odd to have “Spend one hour with the kids” on your to-do list. Even so, it is an important activity, so it should be a priority.
2. Know What Is Non-negotiable
When you are running a business, you will need to make some sacrifices. Even so, you must know where to draw the line. There are times when family and personal life must come first. The importance of events may differ for different people. Most people would agree, though, that things like birthdays and anniversaries are important. It is events like these that should be on your non-negotiable list.
3. Work to a Schedule
One of the advantages of being an entrepreneur is that you can, in theory, set your own working hours. In practice, though, that often means that you end up working every waking hour. To avoid this happening too often, you should set your own standard working schedule. And you should stick to that schedule whenever it is possible to do so. Your working hours needn’t be 9.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. They can be hours that suit you. But, if you do set your working hours, it will help you set aside time for other activities. If your friends and family know when your working hours are, it will help avoid interruptions while you are working as well.
4. Prepare for The Next Day the Night Before
To achieve a healthy work-life balance you must be well organized. That means being well organized at work and at home. To avoid work eating into your personal time, you should plan each day in advance. At the end of each day, write down a list of the six most important tasks you must complete tomorrow. Allocate time slots to each of those activities. Be realistic about how long each task will take and allow time for breaks and interruptions. Completing a timetable in the evenings will save you time the following day. You won’t have to think about what to do next; you will have already planned out your day.
5. Make Time for the People Who Matter to You
If you had an Important meeting you that you had to attend, you would find the time to attend it. So, take the same approach to social and family time. There will be work-related tasks that you could be doing. But it will only be on very rare occasions that those tasks cannot be rescheduled. Place the same level of importance on social and family time as you do on work time. Then schedule your time so that you can fit in both.
6. Make the Most of all Your Available Time
Efficiency is key when you are running your own business. So, don’t waste a single second of what could be a productive time. You could use your daily commute on the train to catch up on emails. You could spend fifteen minutes updating your to-do list after the kids have gone to bed. If someone is late for a meeting with you, put that redundant time to good use. If you can claw back an hour of wasted time during the day, you will have one more hour to spend on your social life.
7. Learn to Delegate
One of the main reasons why entrepreneurs fail to strike a healthy work-life balance is that they can’t let go. They believe far too much that the only way to get a job done well is to do it yourself. Following this mantra will impede on your social and family life, and it is bad for business. Delegation frees business owners up to focus on running the business. It will also free up time for a bit of rest and relaxation, which we all need to be at our best when we are working.
8. Make Sure That Social Time is Quality Time
When you do spend time relaxing with family or friends, make sure that time is quality time. Turn off your phone, shut down your laptop, and give your full attention to those around you. Do the same when you are enjoying some me-time. If you want to relax and read a novel for half an hour, then do so without interruptions. There is nothing wrong with unplugging. Your business will not come crashing down because you spent half an hour playing with your kids.
9. Take Proper Vacations
You won’t win any awards for not taking a vacation and it won’t make a lot of difference to your business either. It will, though, be good for you and for your family. A six-week cruise may not be an option, but the business will survive without you for a week. You can keep a watchful eye on the business by checking emails in the evenings. But be sure to unplug and devote time to the family during the day.
10. Set Achievable Goals for All Aspects of Your Life
A healthy work-life balance will mean different things to different people. The most important thing is that you achieve the work-life balance that suits you. For most people, that means giving equal importance to business and personal goals. Remember; running a business does not have to mean that the business runs you.
When you are running a business, there will be times that the business must come first. That’s part of the life of an entrepreneur. Even so, you should still put your home life first when you can. For some people, success alone is enough. For most of us, though, getting the work-life balance right will be as important in the long term as success is.
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This has been a JBF Business Media production.