Creating a consistent work-life balance is probably one of the hardest things to maintain if you have your own business and personal brand. There are many people out there that insist that a work-life balance simply cannot exist and that it’s just one of the many entrepreneur struggles we have to live with.
I don’t agree. While there is definitely a lot of heavy lifting that comes with running your own business, I believe that there is a way to create a reasonable structure so that your social life doesn’t have to suffer at the hands of your business.
It can be disheartening to miss a night out with your friends because you have to finish a project for work. And vacation? Most people will tell you to just forget about it. But in my experience, completely barricading yourself into your work is only a stepping stone to burnout. Plus, being able to maneuver your social life and daily grind shows that you are truly capable of handling the life of an entrepreneur.
Here are my ten steps to having a healthy work-life balance to become an expert entrepreneur:
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1. Start Small
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re looking for a change of pace, I suggest starting small. Despite popular belief, it takes more than 21 days to create a habit.
For example, let’s say you want to start getting up earlier. Make it a goal to get up an hour earlier every day for a week. By then, the routine should be somewhat normal. Plus the idea of having the “night off” will work as motivation to get the ball rolling early. Other ways you can start small can be giving yourself five minute breaks every hour. Or allow yourself at least one night out with your friends a month. Those small breaks will help alleviate the stress you get as an entrepreneur while not affecting the quality of your work.
2. Make Time For Work
The work for an entrepreneur never stops. That could be why it feels like you’re working 24 hours a day, seven days a week. While I can completely relate to keeping my work email handy at all times, it’s this type of behavior that will ultimately lead to exhaustion. Part of our work as self-employed business owners is to be able to manage that work-life balance.
So naturally, an important step for that is to actually make time for work. You don’t have to set a schedule (in fact, you might not want to), but at least setting a stopping point will help you turn off your work brain for peace of mind.
3. Make Time For Sleep
I’m sure you all have felt those heavy mornings when your alarm clock goes off after only three hours of precious sleep. Time can get away from you when you’re constantly on the work grind. Before you know it, it’s 1 a.m. and you have a meeting at 8 a.m. We’ll sleep when we’re dead right?
But it’s important to make time for sleep if you want to adjust your work-life balance. Sleep has a direct influence on our productivity and work. In fact, lack of sleep has been proven to cause deterioration in your work—and we know you don’t want that!
4. Learn to Say No
As an entrepreneur, I am always looking to expand my business. Even after a successful month of sales or successful collaboration, I’m always looking to hit that next milestone. Whether that’s looking for ways to make another sale, stepping up my social media game, or working on new marketing strategies, it’s hard for me to say no. My business is my baby, and I want to put my all into it. However, it’s important to know your limitations and learn to say no when you simply don’t have the time to take on more work. Remember, you do need to sleep.
Likewise, it can be hard to say no to your friends and family. Going out for dinner will only be a couple of hours right? But if you’re on a strict deadline or piling work, those two hours can be vital. Learn to say no to those fun nights when you know you have limited time to get a project done. Keeping a work-life balance means making sacrifices when you have to.
5. Step Away From Your Email
With the glory that is my Apple iPhone, I am constantly able stay in touch with clients and work calls. In fact, checking my email used to be the first thing I did in the morning before I had even rubbed the sleep from under my eyes.
But in order to manage that work-life balance, I decided that stepping away from my email is a must. I made it a habit to only check my email once I had indulged in my self-care routines and completed one task on my To-Do list. I also decided to silence my phone and put it away anytime I am out with friends. Remember that taking time off of work and being present is a part of that work-life balance.
6. Limit Your Distractions
Creating a successful work-life balance is extremely hard with all the distractions we have nearby. Especially if you work from home, distractions are inevitable. Social media, pets, kids, TV, even cleaning up— it’s all right at your disposal with no-one telling you no.
To limit my distractions, I turned off social media notifications and kept my phone away from my office space. I set time aside to take care of personal distractions, like those dishes in the sink. I also made it a habit to turn on boring shows because I’ve learned that I work best with background noise. This helps to kind of cater to my distractions— just without the willingness to give in.
7. Set Time Aside For Family and Friends
While it’s admirable to constantly work on your entrepreneurial goals, it’s important that you know how to manage your work-life situation. And the best way I found to do this is to really set time aside for friends and family.
Give yourself 30 minutes to an hour a day to call your parents or friends, have a girl’s night out once a month, and make dinner time family time. Shut off your phone during this time so that you are not tempted by incoming emails. Grab a glass of wine and hang with your significant other for some uninterrupted quality time. This down time will help balance out your mental state after a day of unending work obligations.
8. Take a Vacation
A vacation as an entrepreneur? Impossible! While it can be hard to manage this when you’re first starting out, don’t step into the mindset that it will never happen. Plan for at least one vacation a year. Find out the cost, budget for it, and just do it.
For me personally, it’s impossible to cut off completely. It always seems like a work emergency happens every time I go on vacation. Give yourself 1 hour a day to go over emails and put out fires and leave your laptop in the safe in the hotel room.
Chances are, everything will still run smoothly on only 1 hour a day. Vacation time can do wonders for your mental health.
9. Create Incentives
Incentives are, for me, the best way to adjust your work-life balance.
Want to get a drink with your significant other tonight? Tell yourself it can only happen after you’ve completed five things on your To-Do list.
If you want to catch-up on the latest episode of your favorite show, be sure that you have completed a significant amount of your project before Sunday night rolls around.
Even if you don’t suffer from FOMO, creating incentives is a great way to make sure that:
- Your work is getting done and
- You are making time to take a breather and have a social life.
10. Don’t Be A Perfectionist
This can be the hardest notion to let go of as an entrepreneur. This mindset is damaging to anyone who already is suffering from an improper work-life balance. The idea of publishing less-than-perfect work made me stir-crazy. I simply couldn’t rest until the job was done. And if I messed up, I would start from scratch until I felt it was perfect.
The mentality of a perfectionist is a dangerous road to travel on, and it definitely affects the way you balance your social life (as in, you probably won’t have one). Let go of the notion that everything will always run smoothly, because it won’t. Learn to embrace the bumps in the road. Learn from it and move on. Carrying the weight of these obstacles is unhealthy and will damage your ability to manage a responsible work-life balance.
I believe you have to find a way to balance your work and play time. I was recently reminded of something a friend, who unfortunately left us too soon, would always say, “no one ever complained about not working enough.” It’s so true, spending time with family and friends, having personal time and traveling is so important.
So there you have my tips for finding work-life balance. Do you have some tips that you love? What does work-life balance mean to you? Let me know in the comments below.