A good work-life balance is becoming increasingly tough to achieve in the modern world. We are all now super connected, we’ve got emails in our pockets, the phone is always next to you and people seem to be increasingly ignoring the “business hours” that the country used to work in.
When you run a small business, this can be even worse. It’s funny, because you have no senior to answer to and no boss to please, so theoretically you can work the hours you desire… but it never works quite like that! The reality is when you run your own business, the stakes are much higher. That means you are constantly thinking about it, making it very tough to mentally switch off. You also know that nobody else is checking your email or if your website is down… that’s down to you to find out. This often results in business owners having a very poor work-life balance.
Here are 10 top-tips to help improve that work-life balance:
1. Discover the “email out of office” notification
Have you ever found yourself checking or responding to emails at 9pm on a Friday night or 11am on a Sunday morning? These are times when you are meant to be relaxing and reinvigorating yourself for the upcoming working week and you should not be focusing on work at all.
A really good idea to avoid this is set an “out of office” notification for times when you want to chill out. Ultimately, nobody is going to get irritated at you for not responding to an email over the weekend or late one night. If you give them some notice that you’re not going to respond, that’s even better. Give it a go! It could just calm you down a bit.
2. Work at flexible times
This is a good way to use the fact that you don’t have a boss to your advantage. If you’ve got plans on a Thursday night, for example, and need to be out of the office by 5pm then make sure you go out and enjoy it. You can make up for the lost work by working until 8pm on Tuesday night, when you have no plans.
3. Learn to say “no”
This can have the dual effect of enhancing your personal lives and your work lives. If something crops up that you don’t want to do, and it isn’t critical to either your work or your personal enjoyment – simply say “no”. You’d be amazed by how streamlined you can make your life by not trying to do everything!
4. Spend less time on social media
Social media is a growing killer of free-time. The constant need to check your accounts can distract you from work, and the amazing time-sucking power Facebook and Instagram have can easily get out of hand.
If you’re the kind of person that finds themselves on a social media site for more than 15 minutes, you need to do something about it. Checking social media isn’t really free time anymore, it’s just a time waster! There’s no suggestion that you should lay off it permanently, but certainly become aware of how much you check it and how long you spend on it – because that’s neither work or life!
5. Be disciplined about sleep
One of the major reasons that people feel overwhelmed is due to a lack of sleep. If you are often finding yourself having to wake too up early for work then perhaps it’s time to either push your bedtime forward or find another time to work. Similarly, if you’ve been out late on a Friday or Saturday night, you need to make sure you are making the sleep time up later.
If you find that you’re working and living over 16 hours a day – change things. It may feel like a good work-life balance, but it may cause a burnout later down the line.
6. Don’t always be a perfectionist
This is a difficult one, because it is obviously good to be a perfectionist at some things (eg: important work related tasks). But the message here is you don’t have to be perfect at everything!
If the house is a bit of a mess on a weeknight, for example, then don’t worry as much. If you’re deliberating over the tone of an unimportant email for too long, just send it. Sometimes accepting that not everything is going to be perfect can leave you with more time to focus on yourself and enjoy life.
7. Maximise your working day
Distractions come all too easily in the workplace, and if you want a good work-life balance you need to be spending the minimum amount of time in the office whilst achieving the maximum amount of work possible.
Start planning your day in chunks of time. Make sure you get your tasks done early and don’t wait around. Learn to avoid distractions such as spending ages talking to your colleagues and reading the news. Focus whilst you are at work can be the key to relaxing outside of work.
8. Spread out your holiday
Work and life need to be in constant balance. If you work for too long without an extended break, you can burnout. Similarly, if you go on too many holidays in a short period of time, you can lose work focus.
Make sure you always have a holiday to look forward to and try and take some time off roughly once every three months. It can get you into a very good work-life balance rhythm.
9. Create spaces for work and safe havens from work
Space and your associations with it is very underrated in general consideration. Imagine having to relax in the office all weekend? You could be watching TV but you’d still feel terrible.
In that same vein, try not to bring work into environments you associate with relaxation. Ban yourself from opening up your laptop or checking your emails in certain physical areas (eg: your living room). This will help your mental separation of work and life.
10. Remember what is really important to you
Business success is important, of course, as it is the livelihood you provide for yourself and your family. But really, just remember that work is designed to enhance your enjoyment of life by providing you with the means to enjoy it. What really matters are the interactions you have with those around you and how much you enjoy life. If you don’t lose sight of that, you’ll be fine!
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