If you are a small business owner, you know how challenging it can be to maintain a work-life balance. Your business depends on you being able to dedicate your time and attention to a range of important matters and it can often seem like the list of obligations just keeps growing.
With these working conditions, the idea of work-life balance can seem unattainable. How can you ever find time for yourself when your business needs you so much? While developing a time management strategy can be one way to carve a little time out for yourself, it is only one step toward achieving a healthy work-life balance.
Once you have the time to start doing things for yourself, you have to commit to the idea of balancing your life with your business. With the following tips, small business owners can start working toward a work-life balance that will not only be better for them personally, but will also be better for their businesses.
Give yourself time
You can’t have a good work-life balance if you are unwilling to invest time in your personal life. When you are making your schedule, make sure there is time away from work. This means giving yourself a day off and having some time at the end of the day that is for the things you want to do.
Work-life balance isn’t just about giving yourself time outside of work; you also need to give yourself breaks during the day. Beyond increasing productivity and avoiding burnout, there are several benefits to taking breaks at work. When you are scheduling your days, add a few breaks to allow yourself time away from your work.
It will be difficult to achieve work-life balance if you do not have some boundaries. Time for work should be for work and personal time should be for personal matters. This doesn’t mean that the boundaries can never be crossed in any situation, but you want to have some idea of how you want to separate your personal life from your work life.
When you are at work, you should avoid taking personal calls or doing things that are for your personal life. When you are not at work, you shouldn’t feel like you need to respond to every email or return every phone call. Let your business contacts and employees know the times you work and when you will be available. Tell the people in both areas of your life that you want them to respect your boundaries when it comes to your work time and your personal time.
Give yourself rules
Even if you tell yourself you are going to have these boundaries for work time and personal time, it is very easy to lapse into the idea that you will handle some business matter just this one time or that you will only take this one personal phone call at the office. To keep this way of thinking from taking over, it can help to set rules for what you will and won’t do during personal time and work time.
Sit down and make a list of behaviors that would violate the boundaries you set. When you write these things down in a list, it can help to make the rules a little more real. You may even want to consider keeping a copy of the list somewhere visible as a reminder.
Define what is and what isn’t an emergency
So you have your boundaries and you set some rules for yourself. That is good, but the reality is that things can happen that will require a violation of the rules and boundaries. Emergencies occur in business and life, and you don’t want to ignore them just because they don’t fit within the rules you set.
Make a list that outlines what a real emergency is. When is it ok to handle a personal matter when you should be working on your business? When is it acceptable for a business matter to take priority over your personal time? When you define these issues, it will be easier to know when you are violating the rules or boundaries for the right reasons.
The final tip is to stick with it. Don’t let yourself slide back to your old ways and don’t start allowing for little violations of the rules and boundaries. Once you start making small exceptions, it gets very easy to break the rules more. Before you know it, you will be right back where you were with a work-life balance that is totally uneven.