Small business: How to maintain a healthy work-life balance
November 12, 2019
In this 6-minute read:
- Work-life balance for small business owners
- Set boundaries
- Take breaks
- And more
Running a small business is no small feat. It takes a lot of your time and energy, and if you let it, your business can quickly consume your entire life.
As a small business owner, maintaining a healthy work-life balance may seem difficult, but we have a few tips that you can incorporate into your life to help you find that balance.
Work-life balance for small business owners
A healthy work-life balance for a small business owner versus work-life balance for your employees is going to look a lot different. And it’s going to be different for every business owner, too.
Consider all the tips we provide, and then work to find what works best for you in your situation.
An important thing to remember when discovering your work-life balance is that it’s not a simple mathematical equation. You are not going to be able spend equal amounts of time (or any set ratio) at work or focusing on your life outside of work.
There’s going to be a lot of give and take, and that’s okay. You have a business to run. Just be sure to take care of yourself and your personal relationships along the way so that you can stay productive and live a good life while you’re doing it.
Try these tips to help maintain a good work-life balance.
Hire the right people
When you get to the point that you need extra help, get help! Hire employees to take on some of the daily workload and free up your time.
However, as you are hiring people, make sure you are hiring the right people. Take your time to vet and interview multiple applicants to find employees that you can trust. These should be people that you feel comfortable leaving alone at your shop or office, who can manage the business while you are out at meetings or taking much-needed breaks.
Delegate to your employees
When you have found the right employees whom you can trust with your business, delegate to them.
Many small business owners have grown accustomed to handling everything themselves, and have a hard time letting go of responsibilities.
As hard as it can be not to manage every little aspect of your business, you hired people for a reason. Let them help you.
Set and keep boundaries
As a business owner, you’ll have several different areas of your life where setting boundaries makes a lot of sense. One of the most important boundaries for you to set pertain to work hours. Don’t fall into the trap of continually working around the clock and sacrificing your mental and physical health—not to mention valuable time for sleep, relationships, family, and fun.
Spending a lot of time at your business, particularly at the start, is probably necessary. It is unlikely that you will suffer huge long-term effects.
However, if you try to sustain a rapid pace, are getting too little sleep, and are not taking the time away that you need, your health and relationships can start to suffer, in addition (paradoxically) to your business.
Here are some boundaries that you should work to establish:
Set a realistic, specific schedule of hours to work each day and follow it.
Schedule time for regular breaks to meditate, eat, regroup, walk, or simply think about something else for a while.
Devote a specific space to your work. Whether your work from home or at an office or both, make sure that you have your “work” space.
When you’re done with work for the day, leave that space so you aren’t tempted to continue working.
Determine your availability with work relationships. Set boundaries and times when clients or customers can get in contact with you, and stick to it.
Of course, you may have emergencies that come up now and then (more on this later), so you need to know when to keep and break the rules you set for yourself.
Take breaks and time off
You deserve small breaks throughout your workday, and even a vacation every now and then. Dedicate time to take breaks, even if it technically costs you some money when your business is closed.
Furthermore, when you say you’re going to take a break and it’s on your schedule, make sure you actually do it. Completely step away from work for a few minutes (or a few days) and take that time for yourself or with your family.
Let your employees and clients know that you are taking time off in advance, so they have an expectation of when they can get in contact with you.
Be sure to update your schedule on all your social media and online profiles so customers aren’t disappointed or surprised when they find you closed.
Develop a test for emergencies
Emergencies happen, and sometimes during your much-needed breaks, you might have to break your rules and handle a work emergency.
However, when things get chaotic at work, everything can start to feel like an emergency. So, develop a checklist or test to teach your employees or co-owners know when a work emergency is truly an emergency that you need to step in and help with.
Otherwise, let your employees handle it until you get back.
Keep social commitments
When you make commitments to your friends and family to be somewhere—a dinner date, kid’s basketball game, birthday party, whatever—stick to it.
Give these appointments the same level of importance as you do for work events and don’t let anything keep you from them. Turn your phone off or silence work calls until the event is over.
Unless a true emergency occurs, you can spare an hour or two for your personal life.
Take care of yourself
You’ll be able to run your business better and be the person you need to be at home if you’re healthy, physically and emotionally.
If you already have established routines like eating healthy and going to the gym when you start your business, keep those routines going. Don’t let them fall to the wayside when you get busy.
Try to incorporate healthy habits into your regular work routine to make things easier.
- Take healthy lunches to work
- Make healthy food choices when eating out
- Bring a water bottle to work and fill it regularly
- Take the stairs
- Take walks during breaks or while on the phone
Also, be sure to maintain your mental well-being by engaging in self-care activities like developing new hobbies and relaxation techniques. Believe it or not, your business is NOT the most important thing in the world.
Ask for help
We cannot stress this one enough. When you are feeling stressed and aren’t sure what to do or don’t think you can handle everything on your own, ask for help.
It doesn’t matter if it’s personal, financial, work-related. If you need help, ask for it.
Think of someone in your life that you go to for help when you need it. Whether that is emotional support, strategic advice, or any other type of support. Someone who is there for you.
If you can’t think of someone, consider professional counseling. There are support groups for every kind of problem.
When you get overwhelmed, find the help you need to relieve that stress.
Don’t be afraid to say, “No”
You will have clients, employees, friends, and family who demand your time, and 24 hours may not seem like enough.
You need to learn when you can say no.
Are the requests that a client is making valid? Can the issue be solved during work hours? Is a client becoming too difficult for you to handle?
You don’t have to take every opportunity that comes your way, particularly if you are already busy and don’t really need that client. You can turn down work and say no.
If they can find a way to work with your schedule, great. If not, you may just need to politely refuse.
It isn’t easy to maintain a good work-life balance, but it will be worth it.
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