Finding work-life balance is an ongoing challenge for entrepreneurs. You’re putting in lots of time getting your business off the ground. There’s social media to set up and manage, your website to perfect, business documents to create and that’s just the start. When you’re up and running you have clients to serve. Doing your best is your priority.
If you’re not careful, you’ll find yourself working all hours of the day and even at night. Don’t forget why you started your own business in the first place. If you are like me, it’s because you wanted the best of both worlds – a career you love with you in charge and the freedom to enjoy life with your family and friends.
I think that “balance” is a tricky term. Balance is a word that keeps me feeling like it’s a pendulum that’s going either one way or the other. I’ve heard it sometimes referred to as work-life “harmony”. That’s what it’s all about, right? Finding that sweet spot where your living the life you dreamed.
I’ve gathered tips from all over and blended them with the best strategies that have been working for me. If you follow these 5 strategies, you’ll soon find yourself rocking out the work-life balance.
1. Schedule Your Day
Taking the time to schedule your day will help you with determining when your work day should end. I take time to review my calendar a week in advance and schedule my work hours. There are often kids or other activities that interrupt my day and I do work in the evenings on those days to ensure that everything gets accomplished. Blocking out those times helps to set boundaries for me (know when it’s quitting time) and for my family (so they know when I’m “at work”). When work time is over, close everything down and give it (and you) a break.
2. Automate as Much as Possible
Take advantage of systems that can automate your routine tasks. When implementing new systems in your business, always check to see if there are integrations into the other systems you already use. My CRM (CapsuleCRM) integrates with my e-mail, my invoicing system (Freshbooks), and even my e-mail marketing system (MailChimp). I’m even working on integrating it with my contact form on my website. Ahh, it’s so nice when everything works together!
Automating your routine tasks can save you so much time and reduce errors. I even have my invoice system automatically generate my invoices for my retainer clients – another step saved.
3. Learn to Say “No”
This is really an important strategy that can be hard to keep. It’s hard to tell a client “no” but sometimes it’s the right answer. Maybe you’re booked and just don’t have the time, maybe what they’re asking isn’t your area of expertise, or maybe it’s something you hate doing. If it’s not something you love, don’t make yourself do it. Nothing will suck your energy and happiness in your work than forcing yourself to do tasks you don’t like.
Remember, the pendulum swings both ways. A friend or family member could be asking you to take on one more thing. I know you always want to help but sometimes that “one more thing” will send you into overwhelm. It’s okay to say “no”.
4. Make Time for You
I can’t say this enough. It’s the first thing that falls off my radar. Why is it that we always sacrifice ourselves? If you don’t take time to take care of yourself, you’re going to be tired, cranky, ornery…. or insert another negative adjective here. If you’re not getting enough sleep or nutrients (skipping meals) then you won’t be a healthy you.
Take time to fill your body with nutritious meals. Take a nature break and go for a walk. Spend time with your family. Go out with friends. Spend time enjoying a hobby. All these things can relieve stress, help you relax and be a healthier, happier you.
This is my newest strategy. If your work has you on your computer, tablet or phone all day, you need to step away. Electronics can suck you in. There are always new things waiting to be found and updates to read. Social media can be the biggest time suck if you are not careful.
When you’re done with your work day, put away the electronics. No more screen time. Take the time to engage with the real people around you. Go outside, breathe in the fresh air. Go for a walk. All these things will help you return on your next work day refreshed and ready for new challenges.
If you have children, doing this will show them that not only are they important but that life can exist without electronics. I looked up one day and found my entire family sitting in our living room, each one starting into a different electronic. All together, but not together. How awful! We are starting a Totally Unplugged Day at our house this summer. One day a week we will ALL be unplugged – no TV, no Kindle, no computer… you get it.
If you have been struggling with work-life balance (harmony), try out these strategies and see how they work for you. I’d love to hear other strategies too. If you have some that work for you, please share them in the comments below.