Striking a balance between work and personal life can be a challenge for small business owners. To help navigate this, we’ve gathered ten invaluable tips from co-founders, CEOs, and even a psychology expert. From scheduling personal time intentionally to delegating for work-life equilibrium, these insights offer a roadmap to a more balanced lifestyle.
Schedule Personal Time Intentionally
As a small business owner, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to achieve a work-life balance. I’ve found that actually scheduling regular life activities helps. I don’t skip work obligations that are on my calendar, and I don’t skip the personal things I have in there too.
For example, I know I’ve got most evenings blocked off for family/personal time. Sometimes that means I’ve got to do a little work later at night, but I’ve found this scheduled structure to be a useful way to achieve balance.
Reset the Brain for Balance
“Resetting The Brain” is one work-life balance tip I have for small business owners like me, and I do this in three ways.
One is regular exercise for its benefits like improved physical health, enhanced mental health, increased energy levels, increased brain’s ability to adapt and change, stress relief, and improved sleep quality. Another is nature immersion through hiking, biking, or skiing, as there are scientific reports saying that as little as twenty minutes spent in nature can drastically lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Lastly, I spend time alone through meditation, as this helps me reduce anxiety, depression, and pain as well as increase my emotional regulation, self-awareness, attention, and focus.
Juggling the rigorous and countless responsibilities of running a small business can be very daunting but not when you are in control. How? When you hack your mind for balance and wellness, your body will follow and for some reason, everything around you does too.
Enhance Business Productivity with Relaxation
Either you make time for yourself or you will pay the price later. If you constantly burn both ends of the candle, working nights and weekends, you will eventually get physically and emotionally exhausted. It can also have a significant impact on your productivity; working more hours does not automatically mean more work done.
I’ve been a small business owner for 20 years, and while there are times when I work a lot, I also make an effort to have some relaxation. I like to prepare dinner, which I enjoy and find relaxing, and also vacations. In my community, I help with various organizations.
I believe that having downtime makes me a better business owner. You can never completely turn off your thoughts, and sometimes you’ll get a flash of an idea or a solution to an issue you’ve been fighting with for days or weeks. Changing your focus can allow you to be more creative or think differently about a problem, which can be beneficial to your business in the long run.
Value Consistency and Self-Care
We all learn this as we age, but don’t rob your future self tomorrow to pay today. Consistency is much more valuable than staying late and getting that thing done today. Too many of those late nights, then you get sick and burn out completely.
In addition to that, working more and more hours does not mean you are more productive. It just means you are spending more time at work. Shorter, consistent periods of time with maximum focus. Take care of yourself. If the task can wait, it can wait. Focus on being consistent.
Create Physical Work-Life Boundaries
When I started my first small business, I worked from home, so there wasn’t a physical barrier between my work and personal life. I worked in front of the TV, during lunch, and when I was supposed to spend time with my family.
This blurred the lines between work and family time and messed with my work-life balance.
So if you are in a similar situation, I highly recommend renting a coworking space. It puts a physical boundary between your work and personal life, preventing you from working at home all the time and neglecting other areas of life.
Prioritize “Me Time” and Selective Commitment
In my entrepreneurial journey, the key to my work-life balance lies in prioritizing “Me Time.” This involves dedicating specific times in my day to self-care activities. It’s not about being selfish, but rather a necessary strategy to maintain both my physical and mental well-being.
A key part of this process is to sometimes say “No.” It’s crucial to understand that not all opportunities align with your objectives. Recognizing this fact can help maintain clarity and avoid unnecessary stress.
Adopting this practice has helped me improve my productivity and consistency, as well as maintain healthy social interactions. It keeps me motivated and acts as a safeguard against feelings of exhaustion and potential burnout.
Invest Equally in Business and Home Life
This was probably the biggest thing I learned about work-life balance when I first started my business. It’s pretty easy to give your all to your business and then absolutely nothing to your home life—it is exhausting work, especially if you’re a first-time business owner and everything is new.
That said, you will most definitely regret it as the longer you stay this way, the harder it will be to reclaim your home life down the line. I realize it’s difficult, but you need to put in just as much effort into your home life as you do into your business.
Separate from Work Equipment for Balance
I find that creating a physical separation between myself and my work equipment, namely my phone and my laptop is something of a little ritual that tricks my brain into shifting from work mode to home mode.
It’s a small, repeatable thing that I can do every day to help get into the right mindset and not spend the entire evening checking my phone or thinking about work.
Adopt Intentional Productivity
Business owners like to talk about how they “work long hours” but the reality is many of those are unproductive hours where little gets accomplished. Instead, ebb and flow with the day by working with intentionality.
Go hard being super productive, then when you are tired, do a low-brain activity until your energy reserves fill back up. This has worked wonders for keeping my motivation alive and well.
Delegate for Work-Life Equilibrium
As a small business owner, I’m constantly trying to find the right balance between work and family life.
Women still tend to carry the brunt of the domestic load and that adds another layer of difficulty.
But finding equilibrium is possible through delegation. Set aside the expectation that the matriarch rules the roost; it’s the twenty-first century. Instead, consider which tasks can be handed to capable family members or outsourced. Older kids are often excited to help with dinner and a once a week cleaning service can be quite affordable.
Reducing your list of tasks at home allows you to be more present during family time and ensures you’re able to stay focused at the office.