John French: Mastering Your Work-Life Balance
As a small business owner, growing your independent practice can be challenging, stressful but also rewarding – if done right. According to recent study, the average small business owner works more than 40 hours per week, with another study highlighting 39% work over 60 hours a week and one of the most significant ongoing challenges that many business owners face today is finding the right work-life balance.
Juggling or bringing home vast piles of outstanding work could impact your health and wellbeing, and create potential conflict in personal relationships. A poor work-life balance could also cause entrepreneurial burnout – thus affecting work productivity and engagement levels.
So how do you strike the right balance between work and your life outside the practice? Here are some things for you to consider.
Get Your Family Onboard
A good balance can be achieved by involving your kids and families in some aspects of the business, so they feel it’s theirs as well. As small business owners, you wear many hats. Many minds can share the workload and make sure time is being spent efficiently.
Get the right support
The best way of maintaining a great work-life balance is having a supportive partner and family. These are the people that will help you through the rough times and the good times. They will also let you know if you’re swaying too much to one side or the other. Also, as a boss, you need to be comfortable delegating responsibility to a trained and valued team. You hired them for a reason; to help run your business and free up your time to do the things that really matter.
Create some personal rules
I think it’s important to remember that achieving a work-life balance is an ongoing act. You can slip at any time! The key is to create personal rules that help you stay on track. For example;
Schedule time to be bored – scheduled boredom allows you to think creatively, get organized and prioritise your work schedule, so don’t get caught up in just doing things.
No phones after 5:30 PM – put your phone away when you get home and be present. If it’s not a genuine work emergency, it can wait.
Plan remote work – work on your business from home (or another remote location) every Friday. This lets you spend more time around your family – including more weekend trips.
Get serious about ‘balance’
Take the “balance” part of work-life balance seriously. Catching up on emails on a Saturday? Fine. Maybe you can leave early on Tuesday for a sporting activity with friends. Use a calendar to keep an eye on how you’re spending your time throughout the week.
Remove distracting social media apps and breaking news from your devices. Business owners need to be responsive to customers, employees, partners — not to pointless updates and distressing news.
Check your emails once a day
As an small business owner, you can’t predict how the day or the week is going to pan out. While you can be prepared for a roller-coaster week, don’t let sudden requests for meetings, unnecessary interruptions, and unplanned teleconferences take over. For example, check your emails only once a day to help maintain a work-life balance. Productivity isn’t measured by the amount of time you are busy, but by the actions that you accomplish. Juggling crucial tasks and responsibilities every day requires laser-sharp focus, so you have to create a rule for yourself that eliminates distractions and unnecessary noise.
Remind yourself why you wanted to own your own independent practice
What was it that made you choose to be your own boss. It may have been the freedom to build an independent life that completes you — being independent means you can have a life that’s not beholden to any one thing. In the truest sense, work-life balance, as an entrepreneur, doesn’t exist. The lifestyle of an entrepreneur is that of a practical creative that wants the freedom to pursue ideas, not at the expense of a life but to enhance it. That enhancement comes from the realisation that in order to be an entrepreneur, one must experience life in all its glory and messiness.
Focus on internal balance
The term “work-life balance” implies that an equal amount of time is spent on each of those. Let’s focus instead on internal balance.
Most business owners start their company because they want to have more freedom: more time with family or more flexibility to travel.
Here is a straightforward tip which so few business owners choose to use:
- Write a list of your non-negatiables. What is truly meaningful and important in your life?
- Create very clear boundaries for yourself (e.g. 2 hours with family every day, 1 month away every year)
- Stick to those boundaries. NO. MATTER. WHAT.
The question is not whether you can create internal balance; the question is whether you are willing to change the way you function to do so!