Growing a business - especially your own business - is a demanding job, no matter how you cut it. And if you have family obligations - or even any kind of personal life - learning to balance the demands of both can be more than a little daunting. All too often, entrepreneurs find themselves slipping into routines involving long hours at the office or locked away in their home offices while their personal lives and family relationships suffer. It’s no wonder so many entrepreneurs find themselves facing divorce or mired in unsatisfying relationships with their own children.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to help you achieve a better - and healthier - work-life balance. Here’s how to get started:
- Prioritize Your Family. You may not have any trouble setting priorities when it comes to work tasks, but it’s all too easy to set aside your personal obligations, especially in really busy times. And that means you need to schedule family time just as you schedule a business meeting - and then stick to it. Incorporate time for your spouse, your kids, your friends and especially yourself into your daily schedule, and try to set aside additional time on weekends as well. It may feel odd - even scary - to be away from your business on a routine basis, but before long, you’ll adapt to your new schedule just as you’ve learned to adapt to the demands of running a business. And the sooner you start, the faster you’ll adapt.
- Hire The Right Team. Learn to delegate. Guess what? Contrary to what you may believe, you can’t do it all. And even though you may feel you just don’t have the time to train someone new, it’s an investment that will pay back in a major way, especially as your business grows. Identify tasks you can afford to hand off to someone else. Not only will it free up time for your family and personal obligations, but during work hours, having skilled help by your side will allow you to focus on bigger tasks that can help you take your business to the next level. If you’re concerned about turning over more critical jobs to an assistant, you can start with non-revenue-generating tasks like basic administrative work. Trouble finding the help you need in your neighborhood? Consider outsourcing to freelancers. If you can delegate tasks to be handled remotely, you’ll be much more likely to find candidates who are more than qualified to take over some of the tasks you need to accomplish.
- Tap Into Tech. You may think you’re using all the available productivity tools at your disposal, but considering new tools are introduced every day - literally - there’s a pretty good chance there are other products and apps worth exploring. Set aside some time each month or so to make sure you’re taking full advantage of the best tech products for your needs. And make use of options like alarms and calendars to keep track of birthdays, anniversaries and school events. Integrate personal dates with your business calendar to ensure you carve out room for those dates first, before scheduling meetings or other work-related events.
- Take Up A Hobby. You may feel like your single-mindedness is what keeps your business moving forward, but in fact, that kind of focused determination could be holding you back. The brain needs some “breathing room,” and pursuing a hobby can provide your mind with the time it needs to recharge so you’re more receptive to the creative juices flowing inside you. Any kind of hobby is fair game, but considering a physical hobby like hiking or golf provides other health benefits, including the release of “feel-good” endorphins that can help you keep stress at bay.
- Set Some Boundaries. Sure, there may be times when a truly urgent issue requires your attention during time you’ve set aside for family, and that’s OK. The key is to really be honest about which issues are emergent and which ones can wait until the next business day. It’s also important to let your family know you may, from time to time, need to address an urgent issue during the time you’ve set aside for them. As long as you really only take time out for really urgent matters, neither your family nor your business has to suffer. And for really big events - like a school play, graduation or wedding - turn off your phone and live in the moment.
Achieving an optimal work-life balance does take some time and effort for sure. But it’s one job where a huge ROI is just about guaranteed.