10 Tips on Balancing Work and Life for Entrepreneurs
One of the biggest challenges you face when starting a business is your work/life balance. You find yourself working around the clock and neglecting all other areas of your life. It's a tough struggle because it takes so much work to get a business off the ground. It's easy to convince yourself to give up your day off or lunch break in order to get essential things done.
However, if you don't properly maintain a good work-life balance, it can destroy your health, personal relationships and sanity. Here are ten tips for keeping this important balance.
1. Establish Clear Start and Stop Times
When you start working for yourself, you're always on the clock. It's important to establish a clear starting and stopping time for your workday. Otherwise, work can spill over into your mornings, evenings and weekends. Set your schedule and resist the urge to work outside of it.
2. Schedule Downtime
If work is keeping you from doing other things, put these other things on your schedule right alongside work tasks. Plan your leisure activities, even if they're watching TV or playing with the kids. If you have a busy schedule and don't plan these activities, they may not happen.
3. When Off, Be Really Off
During your non-work time, disconnect from email, Skype or other communications. If there is something you feel you need to deal with, tell yourself you'll do it first thing in the morning or first thing Monday. Your time off needs to be sacrosanct.
4. Set Aside a Day or Two
When starting a new business, it's easy to work seven days a week, especially when these aren't full days of work. But it's a good idea to have at least one day completely free of work, from when you wake up to when you go to sleep. Set aside this day and make it a goal to set aside a second day.
5. Be Accountable
It's hard to keep work and life separate by yourself. Tell your family, friends or colleagues about your times and days off. Promise family members you'll spend time with them. Ask them to hold you accountable and it's much easier to stick to your schedule.
6. Outsource and Automate
One great way to maintain the balance is to get rid of some of the things you have to do. Take advantage of outsourcing and automation to get some tasks off of your to-do list.
7. Start an Idea File
Create an idea file or other system for when inspiration strikes during your time off. When you get an idea or suddenly remember something you need to do, write it down and file it away for your next working shift. For example, email any ideas you get to your work email and they'll be waiting for you when you next start work.
8. Upgrade Your Organizing
If you get better organized, you'll increase your productivity and gain better control over your work day. If you're disorganized and scattered, you'll feel like you always have endless things to do. Create a daily work flow where the highest priority items come first. If at the end of the day you're left with low-priority items only, it's much easier to call the day over and do them tomorrow.
9. Get in Touch with Your Rhythms
Everyone has their own natural rhythms when it comes to work and productivity. Try to discover your rhythms and set your schedule accordingly. For example, if you find that you have high energy during the mornings and evenings but you're dragging through the afternoons, work a split shift where you have the afternoon off to enjoy leisure activities.
10. Know What You Can and Can't Control
There's only so much you can control your work-life balance. Sometimes (or often, it may seem), unexpected things happen. If life interrupts your workday, take the day off and deal with it. If there's a real work-related emergency on a day off, let yourself take care of it.
If you watch your work-life balance and learn some good strategies for keeping them separate, you'll find yourself increasingly getting a handle on it. After a while, you'll find more time outside of work. But still, it's a good thing to think about from time to time and make changes if necessary.
You can learn more here in my directory section for how to run a business that will show you more details and steps in setting up and running your business - and keeping yourself healthy from burnout at the same time.
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