Small business owners are known to have busy schedules, many different responsibilities, and a steady flow of important decisions to make. Despite the fact that we may want to get it all done, all the time, the simple truth is that there are only so many hours in a day, and so many things you can do at once. Many times, our personal life suffers and we find ourselves becoming a slave to the business, which often results in burnout.
To remain successful long-term, small business owners must find a balance between their business and their personal life. Here are five ways to create a work-life balance.
1. Set Boundaries
The most important step for creating a balance is setting boundaries with customers, employees, and vendors. Your boundaries don’t have to be completely rigid, but you do need a clear idea of how you want your business relationships to be structured so you can create habits that enforce that vision.
Think through the areas where you feel you need to create more structure, and be clear on how you want to communicate and interact with your business contacts. Then you need to share those policies so you can create boundaries that honor your time.
2. Create Rules for Yourself
Just as you need to set rules that manage your contact with others, you also need to set ground rules for yourself. It is way too easy to take that late-night call "just this once," or give out your personal cell phone number to a trusted client.
Make a list of unacceptable personal actions that contradict your boundaries. Keep the list in a visible place, and check it often to make sure you are respecting your own boundaries.
3. Develop an Emergency Test
Things happen in business that may cause you to have to bend your own rules from time to time; that's the nature of business.
But in the heat of chaos, it can be difficult to remain objective about what qualifies as an emergency.
Create a checklist that outlines what factors should exist before a situation is classified as an emergency. Make it clear when and how your boundaries should be bent, as well as what you should do after the situation is resolved to restore the limits.
Setting boundaries is all about creating habits, and the best way to create a positive habit is by doing something consistently. If you give in once, or let something slide, you’re going to have to work twice as hard to respect your own ground rules next time.
5. Allow Yourself to Take Breaks
Work-life balance requires that you dedicate time to focus on all aspects of your life; you can’t give your personal life focus without investing time into it. So if you are usually overscheduled with work, there won’t be much of a chance you will be able to take a break or do anything non-work related without shuffling your time and causing more stress.
One way to make sure you take time out for your personal life is by scheduling in the time as if it were another work responsibility. Over time, this will become second nature to you and will be one of the most valuable slots of time during your day.