10 Steps to Achieving Work-Life Balance: Small Business Edition
When you run your own business, having a personal life tends to get placed on the back burner, and not just when you’re first starting out. Cultivating a balance between running your business and living your life is essential to the health of your company. Without time to relax and socialize, you may miss opportunities for the kind of creative growth that leads to truly successful business ideas.
Here are 10 ways to achieve and maintain the work-life balance you’ve been longing for.
1. Do less
You don’t have to do everything at once, and you certainly don’t have to get everything finished today. By setting small, achievable goals (like finishing two important items instead of seven or eight), you’ll get more done by doing less. With fewer tasks to focus on each day, you’ll be able to give each job the undivided attention it deserves. The quality of your work will improve and you’ll feel less burnt out.
2. Set an end time
When you’re your own boss, it’s easy to get caught up working nights and weekends and everything in between. Decide on an end time, like 6 p.m., and stop working at that time each day. You’ll be inspired to get more done during the day in order to finish before the clock runs out, and you’ll actually have time (and energy) for a personal life in the evenings.
3. Stick to a schedule
Whether it’s weekends off, taking a mid-week “weekend” every Wednesday, or getting into the office at 10 a.m. each day, a set schedule will greatly improve your work-life balance. Use the time off to reconnect with family and friends, enjoy your favorite activities, or just relax. Make sure that your schedule allows for ample time away from work.
4. Commit to socializing
When setting plans to see friends and loved ones, you may be tempted to let work dictate your level of commitment. “I’ll see how much I get done” tends to be the answer of many entrepreneurs when asked to commit to a social event more than a few hours in the future. Force yourself to give a firm “yes,” then stand by that commitment. Treating fun, non-work events like important appointments ensures that you’ll show up and get some all-important face time with people besides your team and clients.
5. Maintain boundaries
If you make yourself available to clients 24/7, they’ll come to expect it. Set boundaries and office hours, and stick to them no matter what. You don’t have to return phone calls or emails within an hour every time. Setting a standard can help set expectations; for example, you could inform clients that you’ll get back to them within 24 business hours.
6. Really be “out of the office”
Do you often find yourself out with friends but constantly fielding calls or checking your email? Next time, turn off your phone and leave it in your car, or assign one of your friends as the “phone police” and make sure they enforce your no-phone rule while out. After all, you won’t receive the benefits of socializing if you’re working during that time.
7. Take breaks
A 10-hour workday doesn’t need to mean working for ten hours straight. Take frequent, short breaks to maintain energy and focus throughout the day. And yes, that includes taking a few minutes to call your spouse or answer a personal email. A few minutes of personal time during the workday is perfectly acceptable and normal.
8. Personalize your workspace
You spend a lot of time working, so make sure your work environment is inspiring. Bring your dog to the office (if appropriate), buy yourself a plant, and fill your space with photographs or artwork that makes you happy.
9. Take vacations
Solopreneurs may not have assigned vacation days, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve a break! Check in with your regularly employed friends and be sure you’re taking a similar amount of days off each year.
10. Stay organized
It’s impossible to maintain work-life balance when you’re buried under paper clutter. Keep your workspace organized with a service like Shoeboxed, which will scan and digitize your receipts and paper documents for you. With a clean desktop and an organized office, you’ll be better able to leave work behind at the end of each day.
How have you achieved a work-life balance?
This post contributed by Emily Farrar. Farrar is the Lead Customer Advocate at Shoeboxed, the fastest way to turn a pile of paper receipts into digital data for effortless expense reporting and bookkeeping.
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