Proper work-life balance benefits female (and male) entrepreneurs in all aspects of their lives. There are steps that you can take as a business owner to improve your work-life balance, including setting limits to avoid overcommitting; making time for the people and activities that are important to you; prioritizing basic health needs; communicating about your boundaries and plans with key stakeholders to obtain buy-in; and getting a handle on your schedule, projects, and work environment.
As a busy entrepreneur, you must take care of yourself- your health, well-being and needs. The happier and stronger you are as an individual, the more you will thrive in business and increase your positive interactions with others. This involves your critical need for work-life balance. Proper work-life balance is advantageous for founders in many ways and is so crucial for overall happiness. Here are some of my favorite tips for improving work-life balance:
Love Yourself. Loving yourself is at the heart of balance. Balance helps people in their personal lives by giving them time for the people and things that are special to them without feeling too overextended or guilty for not having enough time for everything. It helps them in business too as they will need to avoid excessive fatigue and have the strength to keep forging ahead, so love yourself enough to make balance a priority in your life.
Put Proper Limits in Place. The best way to deal with too many demands is to set appropriate boundaries and make time for the people and things that are most important to us. Let everyone know where they stand and what your limits are. Establish a daily start and stop time for work and develop a standing schedule. Communication with interested parties (friends, family, clients, and others.) is the key here. Get them on board with your boundaries and plans, and tell them how you intend to find time for them, where they fit in, and how important their buy-in is to you. You’ll be surprised at how supportive they’ll be.
Stay Healthy. It’s critical that we take care of ourselves. Neglecting our sleep and overall health can be a symptom of imbalance in our lives. A higher level of self-care will lead us to make better use of our time, feeling more content, better able to deal with juggling multiple priorities, and being more productive, optimistic, and focused. Incorporate fitness, breaks and activities to stimulate your mind, body, and soul.
In the words of relationship consultant, Barbara DeAngelis, “Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away.” Amen. I know that I feel as if I am constantly giving pieces of myself away. I’m sure you feel the same- let’s fix that. Do you enjoy meditation, yoga, reading, taking courses or Pilates? Even something as simple as a short nap can do wonders for your outlook and wellbeing. Schedule time for healthy meals and relaxation techniques as well. Get back to the basics like drinking enough water and eating your fruits and vegetables. Remember what your Momma taught you!
Don’t overcommit. We also need to be aware of committing to more than we should, and failing to delegate, outsource, or otherwise get additional help. If you don’t like to do a certain task, hire or get someone else to do it if possible. Look for ways to share other responsibilities as well; there are likely many people who’d love to pitch in both in your personal and professional life. So, when in doubt or when you feel overwhelmed, outsource!
Pay someone to do your laundry (doesn’t that sound magical?) or watch your children for a few hours (i.e. work in peace) while you focus on activities that will bring in more revenue. Pair up with another friend and take turns with childcare. Order your groceries and other items online so that you spend less time running errands. Better yet, if you are going to head out, schedule your errands in blocks (run four or five during a couple of hours instead of one at a time) so that your days aren’t interrupted.
Learn to Say No! As part of not overcommitting, get comfortable with saying ”No.” You can’t possibly do everything and that’s okay. Don’t feel guilty about turning down things that you simply don’t have time for and/or don’t really want to do anyhow. Not feeling the bake sale? Ditch it. If you don’t want to take on an additional project (that doesn’t offer you much in return), then decline it politely.
You will have to pick and choose where you are spending your time as a busy entrepreneur, so only make room on your schedule for those things that are high on your priority list and don’t feel bad for saying no to things that you don’t want to do, that don’t serve you or your business, or that you don’t really have time for. You can’t do everything, so be smart with your choices.
Take Control. Greater work-life balance can be achieved by taking the reins on your journey: scheduling wisely by working on projects in pieces, eliminating and reducing disturbances, and incorporating self-management techniques. Some best practices include scheduling all aspects of your day, identifying (and eliminating) timewasters and remembering to take some time for YOU. Take a day off here and there and remember to spend time with those who are most important to you while still attending to and growing your business. When these two areas are in balance you will thrive and so will your startup.
Drop Guilt. This is a biggie. Let’s face it, as women (and men), we are always feeling guilty about something, particularly as entrepreneurs. In fact, we feel guilty for just about everything- from having too much fun, not enough fun, being too good at something, not being good enough, the way we look, the success we have (or don’t) and so much more. Further, numerous studies have proven that women are more prone to guilt than men.
There is both social guilt- guilt placed upon us by society and the people in our lives- and individual guilt which is self-imposed when we don’t live up to our own expectations. Are we not spending enough time on our business (or too much?), did we forget to send an email that we meant to, neglect to buy a get-well gift for Uncle Jim, or not help a friend last week that we really wanted to? Do you worry continuously about spending enough quality time with your children or spouse? Stop beating yourself up! You are not superwoman and there is no way to do everything that you want to. And no one does! No one!
The most essential thing to remember about work-life balance is that no one is going to do it for you so you have to make it a priority and talk to the other important people in your life about your schedule. The more in balance you are, the more successful your business will be!
I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from my book, Launch Your Inner Entrepreneur!