I know from personal experience, and from observing business owners, that it’s sometimes difficult to “turn off” the business. This is no truer for start-up business owners who have a million different tasks to complete in any given day. Most business owners know they need to balance their work and personal lives, but often it's not a top priority.
Why does it even matter that we have a work-life balance? A simple answer to this question is because we want to stay creative, productive, and, more importantly, we don’t want to burn out.
It seems to go against our reasoning, but the truth is if we work less it will improve our productivity and help prevent burnout. If you are tired and worn out you will be of little use to your customers, your team, or how you represent your brand. The longer and harder you work, fear, stress and worry can choke out your creativity and effectiveness.
We need to ask ourselves: how creative are we if we are constantly fighting fatigue? How effective of a leader are we if we are fighting to stay awake? How do we come across to our potential clients if we look exhausted? Without proper rest, relaxation, and times of rejuvenation, our reasoning and thinking slows down considerably.
The second important benefit to a work-life balance is related to ensuring life priorities are clearly identified. Often, business owners put their families, personal relationships, and health way down the list of importance, and most have paid the price for it. I’ve worked with business owners whose dedication to the company superseded their commitment to their family. Often their inability to prioritize resulted in painful divorces, broken homes, and irreparable damage to relationships.
Here’s a list of key actions you can take to maintain a work-life balance:
1. Stop Believing More Time Equals More Success
Many business owners are continually worrying about the success of their business. They have an inner belief that if they don’t spend every waking minute working on their business it might fail. By letting go of this mindset a business owner can develop a healthy work-life balance that leads to increased creativity and productivity.
2. Set Boundaries
I recall a business owner who often called me after 10 pm to tell me of some impending doom the next day. Those calls not only robbed me of my sleep but made me dread going into the office. Eventually I had enough of these disruptions and I informed this owner I wouldn’t answer any more work calls after 6 pm. Work is always going to be there the next day and that’s typically the best time to address most issues. As business owners we need to realize it’s important to set work hours for ourselves and our team and stick to them. If we make ourselves available at all hours, while out with our spouse, our kids, or while on vacation, we’re creating unhealthy patterns.
3. Ditch the Phone
This is a hard one for business owners. So many of us sleep with our phones beside our beds, ready to jump up and answer calls day or night. It is almost impossible to just ignore the phone and turn it off. But it’s important we learn to separate our work from the rest of our lives. It seems many business people forget their phone has voicemail or that it records all their texts and captures every email. All these messages will be waiting for you in the morning after you wake up refreshed and ready to embrace the day.
4. Take Time Off
When you’re spending tons of hours on your business, it’s quite easy to forget about just living your life. Unfortunately, this can make us burn out. We need time to enjoy ourselves and the fruits of our labour. I’ve been guilty of this mistake many times, going years without taking time off to rejuvenate. We have to reward ourselves, whether it’s by taking a vacation, treating ourselves to our favourite meal or activity, or turning off our devices and reading a book. Taking time to rest and recalibrate helps us maintain our physical and mental health and refresh our outlook on life.