Do you bring your work home with you? Are you guilty of responding to emails from your phone in bed? Do your loved ones have to drag you away from your laptop on the weekends? If you answered yes, you’re likely struggling with work-life balance.
It’s fair to say that most people are constantly working to balance their personal lives with their work obligations, but the struggle is even harder as a business owner. In fact, a recent study found that 45% of entrepreneurs reported that their greatest ongoing challenge was maintaining work-life balance. You are solely responsible for your business's success, so how do you know when to switch out of work mode? Better yet, how do you actually let go of work for the day and focus on your personal life? Here are my top eight tips for finding that balance as a business owner.
How to Boost Your Work-Life Balance as a Business Owner
1. Use the Covey Time Management Matrix
Make the most of your time working so that you’re ready to log off when the workday ends. You can use the Covey Time Management Matrix to help you prioritise what matters most. The concept is centred around organising your to-do list into four quadrants:
- Urgent and important tasks
- Important tasks that aren’t urgent
- Urgent tasks that aren’t important
- Tasks that are neither urgent nor important
Each week (or day) sort your tasks into this format. Complete all work in quadrant one before proceeding to the next, and so on. Even if you don’t complete all tasks during your workday, you can put your work down knowing that you accomplished the most pressing tasks, making it easier to relax later on.
2. Stick to Your Schedule
Once you’ve prioritised your work tasks, plan out when you’ll do them and stick to the schedule. By maximising your time at work, you can accomplish most if not all the things on your list. Just be sure to avoid distractions - close out computer tabs you’re not using, put your phone on do not disturb mode, and focus on one task at a time. Sticking to your schedule in this way allows you to get all the important things done and then leave work on time.
3. Define Your Work Hours
Whether you’re a one-man show or you have a team of people supporting you, you need to get crystal clear with your work hours. Are you working Monday through Friday, 9 to 5? Make it known. Even better, set office hours - if an employee or a client wants to get hold of you, let them know that you have specific hours set aside for it.
Obviously, pressing issues may arise and you might need to be flexible. However, when you set clear boundaries with work hours, others will respect them. Just be sure to communicate them clearly.
4. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
What do you love about your business? What do you hate about it? Delegate and outsource any non-mission-critical tasks that fill you with a sense of dread and drain your energy. It’s these tasks that eat up your time and end up keeping you at work longer than you should be.
You can do the same with your personal life. If you hate shopping for groceries and would rather spend that time with family, have your groceries delivered. Find ways to outsource what you don’t like doing so you can spend that time elsewhere.
5. Set Technology Boundaries
Setting boundaries with technology is one of the most obvious ways to gain work-life balance, but also the hardest to commit to. You must hold yourself accountable. Set rules for yourself. Will you allow yourself to check your work email once your work hours are over? Will you answer work calls?
Maybe you allow yourself to check work emails once in the evenings. Perhaps you add two hours of work time on Saturday mornings so you can enjoy the rest of the weekend without worrying about work. Whatever it is, set the boundary, then put your technology on do not disturb mode and stick to your rules. Encourage your loved ones to call you out if they notice you breaking the rules and remind yourself to enjoy your personal life, so you don’t get burnt out with work.
6. Know Your Non-Negotiables
When your work-life balance is off-kilter, you’re undoubtedly sacrificing something in one area or the other. By setting non-negotiables, both in your personal life and business life, you can ensure that you’re comfortable with the sacrifices you make on either end of the spectrum. For example, as a business owner, you might have non-negotiables like “I never miss a deadline,” or, “I never turn in lacklustre deliverables to my clients.” In your personal life, you might make an agreement with yourself that you’ll never miss your child’s sporting events or date night with your spouse.
You can then use these non-negotiables as your guiding light. Even if you don’t get other work done, you can rest assured knowing you focused on your top priorities before leaving work on time to go to your child’s little league game, and so on.
7. Communicate Boundaries
Whether you have a team of people looking to you for direction or clients who want to hop on a call with you, be sure to communicate boundaries with them. If you take a week-long vacation every quarter, make it known. You can even put this information in your contacts, so your clients know exactly when you’re available.
Likewise, let your employees know about the ample time you have scheduled to mentor them and answer questions - and let them know that outside of those hours, they may not be able to get in contact with you. They’ll appreciate the transparency, and they’ll plan accordingly.
8. Avoid Time Wasters
Look at your daily habits, both at work and at home. We spend most of our lives ruled by habit, but sometimes these patterns were formed years ago and no longer serve us. Be honest with yourself and ask if there’s anything that you can drop or optimise.
For example, if you spend an hour watching the news in the morning while you drink your coffee, but that time eats into your workday - is it worth it? How does watching the news make you feel, anyway? Does it make you feel motivated for the day, or depressed about current events? Could you consume the news in a more efficient way, like through a newsletter? Ask yourself similar questions about any habits that may no longer serve you. You might find that your time is better spent elsewhere.
What’s your biggest work-life balance as a business owner? Do you end up working late because you hate delegating tasks? Or is your schedule out of whack because you’re not sure what to prioritise first?
If you’re ready to tackle your business systems and processes to improve your work-life balance, I’m here to help. Whether you need accountability or financial management guidance, or anything in between, I’ve got the business experience to guide you. Learn more about my services here or feel free to contact me by clicking here.