Entrepreneurs: Master Work-Life Balance
Has your life been reduced to long working hours and caffeine? For many entrepreneurs, success means dedicating themselves entirely to their businesses.
But what about other things that matter in life? What about your family and friends? When was the last time you enjoyed a quiet dinner with your loved ones or relaxed with your hobbies?
The recent development of hustle culture might make you feel as if nothing you do is enough unless you're working yourself to exhaustion. Still, work-life balance for entrepreneurs is not only about the success of your business that requires you to be full of energy. It's also about the quality and meaning of your life.
Since the path to success isn't paved with office hours alone, let's see how to find that work-life balance we all strive for.
What Does "Work-Life Balance" Mean?
As its name might suggest, work-life balance is a state of equilibrium between all aspects of your life.
A balance between your career and personal life is not a 50/50 situation, though. On the contrary, it will be a different proportion for everyone, but it will always result in the following:
- More energy. You feel inspired and filled with new ideas, and you have the energy to try them out. An overall stable and positive attitude without sliding through extreme ups and downs all the time is the main sign of a balanced entrepreneur.
- Fewer health problems. Entrepreneurs are the worst at taking care of themselves, wouldn't you agree? So immersing yourself in work shouldn't result in irregular sleep, low-quality nutrition, or little time for routine health checkups.
- Less burnout. Burnout can affect your mental (insomnia, anxiety, irritability, and depression) and physical health (high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, chronic pain, and digestive illnesses).
- Higher productivity. A healthy work-life balance increases productivity, leading to better results. For example, you will often feel inspired when you spend time with your friends and family.
- Workforce loyalty. If your staff feels appreciated and can meet their needs while working for you, you can rest assured they'll have fewer to no reasons to quit their jobs.
You're a happy, easy-going boss who transmits positive energy? Then your workplace wellbeing and productivity will only increase.
How to Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance: Practical Tips & Advice
A recent study by HBR of 78 global law firm professionals (30- to 50-year-olds with chaotic and demanding jobs and at least one dependent child) suggests that work-life balance is a cyclic process, not a one-time achievement.
Here are a few actionable tips to put this theory into practice.
#1 - Plan Your Activities
A lack of planning can lead to cramming your daily list with more activities than you can reasonably accomplish.
Do you know what that means? It means skipping lunch, working overtime hours, and ultimately exhausting yourself. Repeat this for six to seven days a week, every week of the year, and you've got yourself a terrible burnout formula.
Instead, start planning each task using realistic timeframes. Then, bring even more value to your planning and ask yourself:
- What do you really need to accomplish?
- How much time do you need?
- How can you best prioritize?
There's an excellent method called the Eisenhower Matrix to help you prioritize your tasks.
Sort all of them into four groups and assign colors to easily distinguish different types:
- Urgent and important — to do
- Urgent and not important — to delegate
- Not urgent and important — to schedule for the future
- Not urgent and not important — to delete
Your typical working day is only eight hours, including resting and eating. Your best advantage is to create schedules that don't overrun that time limit.
#2 - Differentiate Your Time
A few random people would believe that being your own boss equals sipping drinks on a sunny beach all year long. You wish. Most entrepreneurs have so much work to do that they quickly forget the concept of working hours.
If you don't want to become a burned-out android, establish a clear work schedule and stick to it. That said, even robots need to recharge.
And the best way to recharge is by defining start and end times that stay consistent each work day.
#3 - Take Short Breaks throughout the Day
Running a business often means spending endless hours in a chair, glaring at a computer screen, rescued only by the odd trip to the bathroom and perhaps a quick lunch.
But have you heard that staring at a bright screen for hours on end is terrible for your health? In addition to the obvious eye damage, it's a sure way to make your brain and back muscles suffer.
If nothing else comes to mind, here are a few rules for taking breaks:
- After every 20 minutes of looking at a computer screen, look away at something from a 20-feet distance for 20 seconds.
- Take a 5- to 10-minute break to stand up and stretch after every 50 to 60 minutes spent in front of your computer.
- Switch between a standard and a standing desk throughout the day.
- Use a standing desk mat to reduce the load on your lower back and change your posture every 20 to 30 minutes.
#4 - Set Manageable Daily Goals
Setting manageable daily goals is crucial if you want to maintain a healthy work-life balance. But how do you do that? By making to-do lists, prioritizing important tasks, and eliminating unessential ones to prevent overwhelm.
At the same time, learn to delegate tasks while you're not overloaded:
- On one hand, come a crisis, you'll have trusty colleagues who know the process and can back you up.
- On the other hand, some tasks fall outside your competence, and that's okay. If someone has more experience handling such tasks, let them. It's your win.
#5 - Manage Your Online Communication Wisely
Online communication, such as emails and messages, may take a lot of time that can be hard to track. For example, here you checked your inbox, there you answered a message — and this may add up to hours per week and weeks per year that you spend in your email.
Prioritizing your email communication can also fit into the same system with a color scheme. With Mailbird, you can do that by organizing your incoming emails within different folders and adding color codes to them. In this way, every email you receive will be tagged with a color according to its priority.
You can go a step further and create filters that automatically send certain emails into corresponding traffic-light folders.
If you use Asana, Trello, or Todoist you can also add them as integrations to Mailbird and set tasks for certain emails right from your inbox.
All this will help you save the time you spend in your inbox and automate the process.
#6 - Rewire Your Brain from Task-Driven to a Productivity-Driven Approach
What makes the difference between a balanced energetic entrepreneur and a burned-out one?
Instead of focusing on the tasks, start thinking about productivity. But first, ask yourself these two questions:
- What do I really have to do to achieve the desired result?
- What is the best thing I can do today to achieve the set goals?
If there's a way to optimize or take the easy route, do it, and don't feel bad about it.
#7 - Plan More than Just Work
Your free time, hobbies, and all the fun stuff are just as important as your business. If you don't make time for them, there will always be "important" tasks for the business and "nothing to do" in other areas of your life.
Is it surprising that, with this approach, there will always be unbalance?
There's a popular method to improve this called the Circle of Balance:
- Grab a piece of paper and draw a circle on it.
- Now, think about all the spheres that make your life complete (besides work). These can include your family, friends, hobbies, training, vacations, etc.
- Divide the circle into segments according to the spheres you listed.
- Rate each of these from 1 to 10, based on how satisfied you are with each of these fields. Again, rely on your feelings here.
When you're done, look at the chart and think about which fields of your life need more attention. These are the ones that definitely need to be planned, along with your business tasks.
#8 - Stop Feeling Guilty for Taking Time off Work
"Hustle culture" as a social norm teaches people that overworking is the only way to earn respect. Unfortunately, this belief is deeply ingrained in the brains of millennials and Gen Zers. Still, it is essential to learn sooner rather than later that it's all a hoax.
Overworking will earn you a trip to the psychiatrist way before it earns you any respect. You deserve to take care of yourself and schedule some time off.
#9 - Use Technology to Your Advantage
For instance, Mailbird can help you manage all of your email and instant-messaging accounts from one place, improving communication with your customers, employees, and collaborators.
It is an intuitive email client available as an app for Windows and will soon become available for Mac devices. This means you won't have to use a browser and take work home with you at the end of the day.
In addition, you can use numerous workflow-management and productivity tools, including Asana, Trello, Any.do, and Zapier, to manage your tasks and workflows. Mailbird integrates with many of them in a single interface.
Work-life balance for entrepreneurs might not be easy to achieve. Still, you can now implement some suggestions and create a balance as you see fit. After all, it all comes down to planning your work and free time, learning to prioritize, and delegating or asking for help when you're overwhelmed.
At the same time, listen to your staff, set good examples, and support your team to help your business thrive.And don't forget: some tools can help every step of the way. Start with downloading Mailbird for Windows right now, then keep browsing our blog for more tips and advice.