Achieving Work-Life Balance When You Own A BusinessStuart Taverner
It’s natural to become attached to a project you’re working on, and when you’ve started your own business, there are plenty of good reasons for doing so. But doing too much work has its downsides – so how do you strike the right work-life balance?
Work-life balance is often held up as a glorious ideal; a goal for somebody else with a different set of work pressures, but hardly realistic for us as individuals. This is, however, a dangerous line of thinking. Maintaining a reasonable work-life balance is essential for your physical and mental health, and crucial to the future of your business.
Why is work-life balance so important?
It may sound obvious, but it’s a principle all too easy to forget when you’re busy: you need to take care of yourself. Spending too much of your time and energy on work can wreak havoc on your physical and mental health, relationships and – ironically – your productivity. Burnout is a real risk, and while not a medical diagnosis in and of itself, can lead to consequences including stress, issues with sleep, anger and even vulnerability to illnesses.
Owning a business shouldn’t be a sprint; it’s a marathon. You need to be sustainable, and as a founder, you are the most valuable resource you own. There’s no point working day and night if you aren’t able to sustain it on a long-term basis.
What you can do to achieve work-life balance
It can be tough making changes to the way you approach work when you have a huge to-do list to tackle. But for the reasons listed above, you need to prioritise it. Here are some strategies to help you on your way.
Make time to nurture the relationships in your life
That friend you always say you’ll meet for coffee, but never get around to making solid plans with? Now’s the time to call them up. Whether it’s close friends, family, your sports team, colleagues, people you volunteer with or an acquaintance that could become a budding friendship; take the time to nurture the relationships in your life. It won’t always feel great – humans are humans, after all, and you never know what to expect from an interaction – but it’s worth it for the good times.
Prioritise down time
Embrace your preferred way to unplug after a long day. Whether it’s watching a movie, listening to music, reading a book, or something more active like cooking, exercising or gardening; schedule some time for it on a regular basis. Don’t let this be the first thing you cancel when things get busy, either: it’s important, so you need to treat it as such.
If you can, invest in human resources
If your business is already growing, or you can see that growth is on the horizon, don’t hesitate to hire an extra pair of hands (or two, or three) if your budget allows. Having more workers on board will help you address any increase in day-to-day issues that arise, as well as give you more opportunities to step away from the computer for important meetings, or schedule time off for yourself when you need it.
Use time management tools
There are countless tools available to help you manage your time, oversee projects and collaborate with your colleagues. Do some research and experiment to see what works best for you. You might find that you’re most productive with an old-school diary or planner – or, you might find that an online task management tool like [Notion](https://www.notion.so) is more useful for you. Try different things for a few days at a time, and settle on whatever feels most natural.
You are the master of your own boundaries. At the end of the day, if you need to say no to someone, there’s no getting around it: so learning how to say no in the most diplomatic – yet assertive – way possible is incredibly important.
Another factor to consider is the technology you use for work and how that overlaps with your personal life – for example, are you checking work emails long into the night? Start taking action to avoid doing this in the future. Set designated work hours for yourself, and stick to it. If you need to invest in a separate work phone or computer to make those boundaries more clear, seriously consider it.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself
If you find that you slip up and abandon the strategies above, don’t be too hard on yourself. Practice makes perfect, and you can always integrate these changes into your life slowly.
If you’re struggling or have mental health concerns, there are resources out there to help you. Remember that many people out there are going through the same thing as you, and there’s never any shame in asking for help if you need it.