As a business owner, you probably know far too well what it’s like trying to balance your work life and home life. There’s likely been nights you’ve sat up late trying to finish your bookkeeping before the BAS deadline, or working on a new marketing campaign. Being in business is hard – you often don’t get to switch off at the end of the day.
But more business owners are making a push to gain a better work life balance, for both their own health and wellbeing, as well as that of their families.
What is Work Life Balance
We’ve all heard about work life balance, but what exactly is it? Essentially a healthy work life balance is all about gaining a harmonisation between your professional life and your personal life. While there is no one size fits all approach, there are certainly ways in which you can rearrange your professional life to a more sustainable way to work.
Marty Spargo from Reize Energy Drink tells us ““I stop working after 3pm in the afternoon. This has been a practice of mine for years that worked wonders for my health, relationships, and overall well-being. I dedicate my mornings and early afternoons to my work, business, sidelines, and other hustles, but when the clock strikes at 3pm, I would automatically hit the switch and become a regular person.”
Why a Healthy Work Life Balance is Important
When you were going through the setting up phase of your business, you probably remember those long nights just trying to get everything done; and you may still have these nights. While one or two of these nights every now and then isn’t bad, you don’t want it to turn into a regular thing.
One of the biggest outcomes of an unhealthy work life balance is burnout. You might have been able to burn the candles at both ends when you were 18, but when you’re running a business that needs your full attention during the day, and have a family that needs your full attention at night, burnout will come quickly.
Tim Absalikov, co-founder, and CEO of Lasting Trend – Digital Marketing Agency in New York says that “Though it is difficult to balance between work and personal life, you have to learn how to do it. Otherwise, you will have to trade your business success for a happy private life, or vice versa.”
Mr Absalikov notes that “the advice is simple but effective. When at work, you should work. Do not let calls from your friends or relatives disturb you from working. When the working day comes to its end and you are going home, do not take the working problems with you. Leave them at the door. Try to switch off from work to your private life. Do not let unsolved working issues spoil your leisure time.”
Simple Ways to Balance Your Professional and Private Life
Achieving a healthy work life balance is difficult, particularly if you’ve never actively worked towards doing it before. A good balance takes a holistic approach to areas of your life including health, wellbeing, socialisation, workload, and more.
Sarah Bodlin from Conklin Media in Pennsylvania recently told us “The best piece of advice I have for balancing work and business is to have a hobby that has nothing to do with your job.
For example, I work in marketing, so I spent 99% of my work week online. I used to really enjoy reading and writing, but have found that it is significantly less fun (and relaxing) since that’s essentially what I do all day, every day. Now I try to get as far away from screens as possible when I’m not at work. I lease a horse and ride a couple of days a week, as well as play tennis. Keeping work and hobbies separate has done wonders for my mental health.”
One of the best ways to gain the right balance is to know how to manage your workload. As business owners, most of us are guilty of just keeping tasks in our heads and to ourselves when we could hand them off to other people, taking both stress and workload off our plate (obviously ensuring we aren’t burdening an employee or colleague with work).
In research from Qualtrics’s 2020 Global Workforce Resilience Report, when you are at capacity with your workload, you tend to feel best about your safety, resilience and wellbeing. When you are over capacity (or even under), you start to project negative emotions about these areas.
Scheduling in Downtime
A factor that many in business forget is scheduling in downtime. Periods of rest are important to recharge your batteries, and to help reset your mind. Whether you schedule in weekly periods of down time, like a round of golf, or monthly periods of downtime like a mini-getaway.
Scheduling in downtime has many benefits. Breaks away from work can help improve your mood and increases your ability to concentrate which in turn increases your productivity. Pushing through too much work without a break will eventually lead to your brain, and your body, pushing back. You’ll then end up requiring more time off than if you had scheduled in regular downtime.
Jason Sherman, Founder and CEO of TapRM in Brooklyn, New York, shared with us how he schedules in downtime.
“I embrace a Friday-lite approach to the end of the workweek. While working only 4 of the weekdays would be nice, it’s just not possible when scaling your business. But crushing it Monday through Thursday allows me to spend Friday in solitude, planning for the week ahead. And because I’m working from home, I’m much more relaxed without the distractions of phone calls, messages, and meetings. It also allows me the opportunity to go out to lunch with my wife on a weekday, which is the kind of work break I like best.
How a Young CEO Balances Professional and Personal Life
16 year old Olivia Zhang, Executive Director and Founder of Cancer Kids First based in Virginia, USA, gave us her pointers on balancing your work and professional life.
“I have two parts to my response, and my first one is a little cliché, but as much as it has been said, I think it’s important to reiterate: planners can do so much to help you stay on track and are my personal lifeline. This strategy definitely may not work for everyone, but it helps me stay organised because I want to make sure I complete every assignment and task I have in a timely manner.
For me, I need a planner that has sections for every period I have in school and also an afterschool section so I can see clearly what I need to finish for school and for my non-profit. Plus, the satisfaction you get after physically checking off an assignment is one of my favourite feelings.”
Ms Zhang also said “another way I achieve a peaceful and sustainable balance in my life is through time limits and a strategy called time-blocking. Over quarantine, I was surrounded by distractions because I wasn’t in a school environment that limited them for me, so I had to take responsibility myself to get rid of distractions.
I have time limits set on every social media app I use to help limit the time I spend on those. Time-blocking is also a method I use to be productive, and was actually a skill I learned from one of my leadership team members. Time blocking is essentially blocking off a certain amount of time to complete an assignment. This way, you feel as if you’re in a time crunch and will act more productively when doing assignments.
Overall, these are strategies I use to be able to balance school, leading CKF, and my other extracurriculars. However, the biggest tip I can give is that all these strategies are meaningless if you don’t do things you’re passionate about. Everything I do are things I love, so it really doesn’t feel like work for me. Picking out extracurriculars that excite you that give you more energy helps you avoid burnout”