Too many people are “time poor” – rushing somewhere, always on the move, never taking a break. And while some may find this kind of lifestyle exhilarating, it can cause long-term damage and issues. Burnout and stress-related complications are common in this day and age. And all this goes for a regular employee, for entrepreneurs it’s even worse.
Finding the right balance between your work and your personal life is necessary for success. Entrepreneurs are by their very nature type-A personalities, always on the move, never sitting still. These are fine character traits that are supposed to be nurtured and developed. However, without finding a way to calm down and blow of some steam, well, you’re just asking for trouble.
Alternative practices and burnout
Know that when people talk about work-life balance, this isn’t just a matter of chilling out. Personal care and leisure time is not only an important part of maintaining your success streak, but it’s also vital for being a happy human being. Some counties in the modern world understand this, some don’t, and others are in the middle. Let’s take the UK and Australia as examples.
In the UK, cities like Glasgow, Nottingham, Liverpool, and London (just to name a few) report a very high level of job satisfaction. The kicker here is that this leads to greater productivity. Companies in these cities have taken on a more progressive view of the workplace. They experimented with a four-day work week. This gave them ample time to spend with their families, friends, and to just lay back and relax. It should be noted that they did not suffer a decrease in their paycheques.
On the other hand, let’s take Australia for example. It’s been reported that in Australia people work the longest hours compared to any other developed country. This can lead to lower productivity, and much lower employee morale. Paradoxically, the ones that worked fewer hours on average were more productive.
A great factor for this issue might just be burnout. Namely, burnout is a state of complete physical (but mostly emotional) exhaustion. It occurs after prolonged periods of stress. People who suffer from burnout feel emotionally exhausted, detached from their work, and generally anxious. The quality of their work suffers, as does their dispositions.
Due to the practice of long work hours and little rest, Australian workers are at a great risk from burnout. This can serve as grounds for a lawsuit if the employer doesn’t provide adequate working conditions. You can essentially prepare to call the best personal injury lawyers in Sydney, or you can try to change something.
A big part of finding a work-life balance is learning how to perfect your time management. Now, an entrepreneur needs to be a master of time management already. However, there is always some more room to learn. If you have total control over your time, you can prepare for the unexpected more easily. Furthermore you will feel like you’re in control to a greater degree, and more often. By managing your time better, you are able to avoid last-minute deadlines and all-nighters. Another important part of time management is that you will lose less time on things that simply don’t matter. Think of it as trimming the fat. You will gain an understanding of where your time goes.
Now, these two things are very important for the work-life balance of an entrepreneur for two reasons. First, proper time management helps you create more time for yourself, which you can invest spending more time with anything basically that isn’t work. The other important aspect is that you will be less stressed and burnt out, helping your work-life balance more.
Make your breaks sacred
You need to have breaks during the day, there are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Now, they can last for two hours or thirty minutes. The point is that you have some time for yourself to recharge and regroup. You need to practice self-care. However, in order to do that, you need to make your breaks sacred.
Pick a time in the day, before work, after work, in the middle of the day, it doesn’t matter. Then, let’s say you want to spend this time with your dog, go for a run, or just watch the office. During this time, your phone will be off, your door locked, and your email closed. Furthermore, inform all your clients and partners that you are not to be disturbed during this time. Is the very thought about this giving you anxiety? Well, that’s the problem.
The point here is not only that you don’t get disturbed, but also that you can send your crazy brain a signal stating that “hey, it’s ok, you can have a break, and you won’t be disturbed by anyone”. It won’t be easy at first. Think of this as developing a habit, both for yourself, your employees, and your clients.
Learn to delegate
You don’t have to do every single thing by yourself. We understand that entrepreneurs are one-man armies, jacks of all trades, all which jazz… However, there are only so many hours in the day, and you need your rest (see above). Hire some people part-time, employ your friends, family, your parents… You need to understand that at one point, you will get better returns and more success by delegating the work onto other people. You will have more time to relax, more time to focus and more time to balance your life as well.
You can always try to partner up with somebody, have them take over some of the work. Find a co-founder whose personality meshes well with yours. Maybe you’re not really a people person, but are fantastic with administrative tasks and organizational things. Having someone communicate with your clients, suppliers, and people, in general, can free up your schedule, and relieve some of the stress you have.
Schedules and plans
We already mentioned how important time management is. However, a big part of that is scheduling. You need to control your time, but you need to section it properly as well. So, for example – your daily schedule handles what you will do the following day. No need to plan everything to the minute, but we do advise you stick to the order of activities you set up. Of course depending on the nature of your business, you may need to add some flexibility to the mix.
However, the important part is that you schedule rest time as well. This will serve as a reminder that yes you need to take a break from time to time. Use that rest time as a reward, a kind of carrot you can move towards, something to look forward to. It will relieve some stress, and motivate you to work harder.
Become mindful of your work and your play. A big part of a work-life balance is having both. You don’t want one to overcome the other, otherwise you will end up in trouble. However, an interesting piece of advice is for you to become mindful of both.
Now, by mindfulness, we mean present in the moment – when you are working, you are working, when you are playing, you are playing. Try to not think about the work when you are relaxing, and keep your mind on your job when you are at your desk. If one encroaches upon the other within your head you will neither enjoy yourself, nor will you be as productive as you could.
Now, this is easier said than done. Trying out a meditation practice, for example, can help you with this, as well as putting reminder on your phone or around your desk. These reminders should bring your mind back to whatever you are doing. Things like “focus on your work”, or “work can wait”, or a simple “breathe” can mean a great deal.
Set goals for your leisure time
If taking time off really doesn’t seem attractive to you, we suggest you try something else. Namely, placing very clear goals and achievement for your leisure time. These may just give you the structure you need and want to keep going. For example, running an x amount of miles, learning how to do a specific yoga pose, or lifting a Y number of pounds on your bench press… If you’re into music, set a goal for yourself where you will learn to play an acoustic version of an entire album you like.
Balancing your work and your life is not an easy task. First of all, the very act of taking a break is frowned upon in the professional world today. But look at the examples around you – all work and no play makes people less productive, even if they put in more hours. Striking a balance means leading a healthy life that will have the best of both worlds. Minimizing stress and burnout are primary things every individual needs to focus on, no matter where you are from, or what your job is.