Work-life balance is a bit of a “unicorn”: An elusive thing unknown to most small business owners. Entrepreneurs are in a constant state of overdrive and because work is so personal, separating (and then balancing) these out becomes a tricky thing indeed. But work-life balance is really a personal outlook, and with the right mindset and a bit of effort, this can be managed. So consider these six ways other entrepreneurs have found to balance work and life:
1. It’s not always 50 – 50
Think of it this way: Work-life balance is not necessarily a clean mathematical split. It’s more of a give-and-take scenario. Some days your business will need more of you and other days your personal life will be more demanding. If you can think about this divide as an ebb and flow you will find yourself under less pressure to perform equally on both ends.
2. Set clear boundaries
When you are in start-up mode your business will understandably ask more of you. But under normal conditions it is really important that you don’t eat, sleep and breathe the business. The important thing to do here is to define clear boundaries like defining knock-off times, smart-phone limits after-dinner, as well as non-negotiables like missing family events or school commitments. If you understand your priorities ahead of time, they will be a lot harder to ignore when the business comes knocking.
3. Time off
24-7 connectivity is both a curse and a blessing. It is all too easy to “very quickly” shoot off an email or make a work call to clear your head of that thing. But if you are taking time off (say on a holiday or weekend) it is really important that you honour that for yourself and for the people you are with. No one is expecting you to switch your brain off all the time, so consider keeping a To-Do list on your so you can jot down things that surface in your down-time, reminding you to come back to them when you’re back on the clock. Knowing you won’t forget to do these things, may well put your mind at ease long enough to relax a bit.
4. Do what you can and hire a team to do the rest
Entrepreneurs are eager beavers who want to be everywhere at once. And while this is the very thing that brought your business into the world, it is rarely sustainable on your own. Now that your small business is up and running consider the fact that you may be better suited to focus on certain things over others. Then let your team do the things they are good at. Without having to micro-manage every aspect of your business you can now take a breather and get to the gym, or go out with your friends for an after-work drink. This will also empower your team as they will feel relevant and important, building your business in other important ways.
5. Say “No”
It is so tempting to say “yes” to every opportunity out there. But that’s the fear talking. Trust that the right opportunity is in the line-up and you will instinctively be ok with passing up luke-warm opportunities. This is a simple small business management practice that will free up the headspace to do the things you are already doing, well.
6. Support your relationships as much as your business
Without the people in your life, you (and your business) wouldn’t be where it is today. You may still need to work long hours and miss out on gatherings, but this can often be tempered by clear communication and an acknowledgement of their feelings about it all. This also applies to the people in your business and working on your professional relationships too. Ensure your staff have a clear line of communication with you and know exactly what is expected of them. This will ensure that when the time comes, they fight for you and give you support when you need time out of the office.
The bottom line
For most small business owners work-life balance is an oxymoron. But with these six simple small business management mindsets, you will find yourself in a clearer position to give yourself the most from both equally important worlds.