Work-life balance may indeed be mythical in the sense that sometimes, you'll have no choice but to put your nose to the grindstone for days at a time. You'll get tired, you'll miss your family, and caffeine will be the only thing keeping you on your feet. Even during your busy season, though, there are things you can do to put a little more balance in your work-life equation.
It's an adage as old as time, but knowing yourself is truly one of the best ways to achieve balance in an otherwise hectic life. At what time of day do you usually feel most alert and productive? Attempt to schedule important tasks for that time. This way, when you have to do something that is grueling, tedious, or challenging, your mind and heart won't be complaining that you ought to be at home watching Netflix.
You also need to ask yourself if you're worrying about things that there is no use worrying about. If you allow things that are out of your control to weigh on you all the time, those concerns will bleed into your personal life, causing serious damage to your work-life balance. A Swedish proverb says, "Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow." If you find that you have a worrier's personality, use relaxation techniques to wash away the worry so that you can enjoy your time outside of work.
Your business might be your baby, but even mom and dad need some time away occasionally. Set clear boundaries with your employees, vendors, and customers by establishing certain times every day and every week when you are unavailable. You shouldn't feel guilty about turning your phone off and ignoring email alerts during time that you have set aside for yourself.
You don't have to be strict about sticking to these boundaries. For example, if a big project is going on at work, you may have to be on call in case you need to tackle an unexpected problem.
…But It's Okay to Blur the Line Sometimes
As an entrepreneur, you have a heavy load on your shoulders. Sometimes, it will simply be impossible for you to be home in time for dinner with the spouse and kids. Instead of trying to keep work separate from your personal life all the time, blend the two together where it's appropriate. Here are some examples of things you might do:
- Invite your spouse to have lunch with you at the office a few times each week.
- Have your kids come to your workplace after school and teach them about what you do. They might even want to follow in your footsteps and start their own businesses someday.
- Work from home sometimes. When you have basic paperwork to do or other tasks that don't require a lot of concentration, hang out at home with your family. Make it clear that you have work to do, but spend your breaks helping with chores around the house or playing with your dog.
- Make your co-workers your friends. Having positive personal relationships with the people you work with will make your job feel less like a chore.
Effective delegation is one of the cornerstones of impactful leadership. You shouldn't take on tasks yourself that someone on your staff is qualified for and has the time to do. To be a good delegator, try some of these:
- Be realistic about what your employees are capable of. You should regularly evaluate where your employees are in their careers and consider whether they're ready to take on more responsibility.
- Make training part of the routine. Training might cut back on productivity in the short term, but in the long term, it will yield much more than it costs. Create a schedule for training employees to take on new tasks, and don't be stingy about paying for them to go to seminars or classes that could improve their value as employees.
- Carefully consider which tasks ought to be delegated and which ones you should keep for yourself. You might be surprised by just how much you are doing that someone else could be taking care of. However, be careful not to delegate unique tasks that are crucial to your business's success.
Use Technology to the Best Advantage
When they're used correctly, gadgets, gizmos, and applications have the power to streamline processes, saving you time and making it easier for you to dedicate more hours to your personal life.
If you find that you're constantly having hiccups on your servers, it might be time to upgrade all the tech in the office. Yes, this is expensive, but it may save you money in the long run. Plus, once everyone gets up to speed on the new system, you'll have fewer IT headaches.
In addition to upgrading what you already have, you might consider taking on new types of technology altogether. For example, making payment processing easier through a service like Payscape can make customers happier and give you an easy method for tracking and accepting payments.
You may also want to explore different types of collaborative software. They enable you to keep everyone on the same page as they're working on projects. You'll spend less time trying to get your point across and more time relaxing. Slack, InVision, and Google Keep are all popular collaborative platforms.
Tired of chasing unicorns? If you have it in your mind that it's possible to always maintain a balance between work and your personal life, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. However, that doesn't mean you should throw in the towel and become a slave to your business. Use the above tips to find more time for yourself and more enjoyment in what you do.