Life for many entrepreneurs can be hectic, whether they’re running a brick and mortar small business, home business, online business, or even a freelance career. Schedules can get out of hand, and the line between work and home life can get blurred (especially for entrepreneurs that work from home).
So what can you do to maintain a work / life balance as an entrepreneur? How do you stop your work life from interrupting your family life and social life? How do you juggle it all? It’s not uncommon for entrepreneurs to get so caught up in work that they forget about other areas of their life, and even neglect the people in it. These tips will help you keep in touch with yourself and your family and friends as an entrepreneur, while also helping you maintain clarity and focus on your business.
- Understand from the beginning that being a business owner is going to mean long hours. Discuss that with people close to you, and find ways to plan for scheduling conflicts.
- Don’t blow off all of your old personal habits and responsibilities. Schedule them alongside your important work meetings if it helps to remind you that they need to remain a priority in your life.
- Take breaks. Shut your eyes for twenty minutes. Go out to lunch or dinner with a loved one. Go for a walk to get some exercise and fresh air. It doesn’t matter if you do these things before starting a project, after, or in the middle… just give yourself a little taste of non-working life throughout the day, so you don’t start to forget what you’re missing.
- Get your priorities straight. Your clients may be important, but your family should be moreso. Don’t put yourself in a position where you’re pushing them away. Always keep an open and honest line of communication, so if your spouse, children or friends do start to feel neglected, you can work on resolving the issue together instead of letting it lead to resentment in them while you remain ignorant to the problems in front of you.
- Have a set end time to your work day and stick to it as much as possible. It’s not always easy to stop working as an entrepreneur, because there’s always work to be done. There’s no boss sending you home, and no watching the clock for 5pm to roll around. Give that back to yourself, so you look forward to “leaving” for the day to get back to your “other” life.
- Make your office hours clear, and ignore emails and phone calls during off-hours. If you make the mistake early on of always being available for what seems like 24/7, clients and customers will become accustomed to it, and they’ll feel neglected if you’re suddenly not around after 5pm on a Tuesday. Only respond during after hours if it’s an emergency, and make sure clients know it’s not your norm.
- Take vacations. It can be scary to take time away from your business, and in the earliest phases, it may not be possible. But learn to set aside money to account for some time off. Then clear your schedule well in advance by finishing up existing projects and letting clients know that you’ll be unavailable for vacation (let them know as early as you can; they’ll generally be very understanding). You don’t even have to go anywhere. Just take some time to feel refreshed, and you’ll have less of a chance of becoming burned out and you’ll possibly even feel more enthusiastic about your business when you return.
As much as entrepreneurs have to protect their work day from things like home office distractions, it’s also vital to know when to stop with the work to focus on life again. A burnt out business owner won’t be as productive as someone who’s well-rested and living a well-balanced life.