When you're busy trying to get your business off the ground, it's easy for your work schedule to bleed into your personal time, making it difficult to maintain work-life balance. Many entrepreneurs even find themselves working 7 days a week, which is simply not sustainable for an extended period of time. Though it's tempting to work on your business around the clock, it's important to maintain some semblance of work-life balance. To help aspiring entrepreneurs maintain a healthy lifestyle, while still growing their company, we asked 10 successful entrepreneurs for their best piece of advice when it comes to managing their work-life balance.
1. Set Aside 30 Minutes for Yourself
Danielle Kunkle, Founding Partner, Boomer Benefits
As an entrepreneur, there is no on/off switch to shut work off and go about my life without guarantee of interruption. There is always something to be done or someone to be reached.
I've found that setting aside 30 minutes each day to just do one thing that is completely unrelated to the business has been a game-changer. For example, during my morning commute to work, I listen to business podcasts, but on my way home, I spend that 30 minutes listening to something self-indulgent, like my favorite true crime podcasts. It helps me unwind and get my mind out of the work mindset. Similarly, if I'm reading a business book, I get that done in the morning. If it's the latest Stephen King novel, I do that at night before I go to bed. Separating it out for me between mornings and evenings has been really helpful.
Choose something that allows you to recharge and find meaning outside of the chaos of your routine as an entrepreneur. Make it a thing. When you intentional about your you time every day, those around you will understand and respect it making you more accountable to sticking to it.
2. Make Sure to Take at Least One Day Off Per Week
Roman Debotch, Co-Owner, Blackexcellence.com
Always, always have at least one complete day off a week. That might seem like an easy thing to accomplish for somebody that's not an entrepreneur, but it is a difficult one, especially if you're starting out on your business venture. I used to work 7 days a week, shooting, editing, writing, everything! But then, I found myself crashing and losing the desire to carry on. I had to change something.
I always find when I shut everything off for a full day and use that time to recharge, I am even more excited to come back to working on my projects. The entrepreneur burnout is very real, so do your best to maintain your efforts long-term by taking a break from it all, at least one day a week.
3. Hold Yourself Accountable by Paying for Events in Advance
Jack Bedell-Pearce, Co-founder and CEO, 4D Data Centres
During busy periods, it is important to set realistic work life balance goals. Booking events that require advanced payment in the evenings during the working week can be a good way to force yourself to leave early—a personal trainer at home was a great purchase for me, as not only did it get me home on time, but it also gave me an hour of good quality exercise, which energized me for the rest of the week.
4. Do the Dirty Work First
Marcion Albert, Chief Editor, NewAwning.com
Do the worst task first every day. As business owners, we have the freedom to choose what we work on and when. It's very easy to pick the tasks that we most enjoy and then run out of time on the more tedious tasks. I am guilty of prioritizing busy work that would never really move the needle because I enjoyed those activities, rather than pushing through the more tedious tasks.
When I was discussing my struggle with a fellow entrepreneur, she shared that her trick was to start everyday with whichever item on her to do list she wanted to do the least. The reasoning is that once it's off the list, it's no longer something to be dreaded. The enjoyable tasks are a reward for knocking off the chores. It's also much harder to lie to yourself about being productive.
5. Establish Work-Life Boundaries
Flavia Berys, Host, Lifestyle Solopreneur Podcast
Work will always grow to fill the time you allow it to take over. The most important thing you can do for your work life balance and sanity is to set boundaries for how much of your week you will devote to work and then be as protective of your non-work hours as you possibly can. Somehow people feel more comfortable saying 'no' to something when the reason for the 'no' is a conflicting work event like a different meeting. The key is to feel just as justified and comfortable saying 'no' when the conflict is a personal event like working out or breakfast with some friends. That's when you can truly achieve work-life balance.
6. No Means No
Leanna DeBellevue, Owner, Legacy Marketing
Stop glorifying busy and understand that “No” is a complete sentence. There is constant advice coming from coaches, and gurus and success teachers talking about the importance of the hustle. The more you hustle the faster you get there. Not true. The more intentional you are with your time, the faster you get there. Three hours of dedicated work that is purposeful is much more effective than busy work for 10 hours. Don’t feel guilty if you accomplish more in those few hours than others do all day. Working smarter not harder is something to be proud of. Additionally, it is okay to say no. Replace the word “hustle” with “intentional”, and “yes”, with the phrase no that is not in alignment with this quarter’s goals. Those two small changes will give you back freedom you thought was forever lost.
7. Turn Your Phone Off
David Gafford, Marketing Director, Shift Processing
Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is the most difficult when it comes to my cell phone. Calls from different time zones and leads calling the website phone number at all hours of the day and night pulled at me even though I knew I needed to be present at home. I eventually had to redirect all calls and leads away from my phone outside of work hours because family was a priority. It meant missing out on a few leads that wanted to talk to someone right away, but I'm doing what I do for my family. I could gain millions of dollars and lose my family and it will all have been for nothing. Priority matters as an entrepreneur.
8. Chunk Your Time
Judy Dang, CEO, Avid at Work
I've been a small business owner for 3 years. The first two were brutal because I wore all the hats: CEO, CFO, COO, you name it. Not to mention servicing clients. One piece of advice I've found to be helpful is to chunk your time so you're not bouncing around. So, chunk all your calls into the same block of time. Process emails in one 30-minute block. Do the hard tasks of strategizing, planning, writing all in one chunk and the shallow tasks like invoicing, payroll, and paying bills. That way you have more quality time to focus on the critical work to grow your business.
9. Optimize for Making Memories
Chas Cooper, CEO, Rising Star Reviews
When you’re faced with making the hard choice between spending time on your business versus personal life, ask yourself, "What will I remember when I’m 80?" If you’re choosing to sacrifice lifetime memories for work you won't remember at 80, you've got the wrong priorities. Find a way to make your business successful without sacrificing the moments that make memories for a lifetime. [email protected]
10. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
Jonathan Holloway, Co-Founder, NoExam
Focus on the source of the problem. What parts of your business are constantly sucking you back in after hours? How can you prevent this from happening as much? The key is to have less that relies on you. In my experience, the less work that relies on you the better off your business will be. This allows employees to have ownership over their jobs, and it gives them the freedom to make decisions without contacting you. No one likes to be micromanaged.
Once you have worked yourself out of the equation, you can place your phone in do not disturb mode after hours. This will prevent you from seeing notifications that lure you in to working all night. Then you will need to figure out what to do with all of that free time.