If you're looking for ways to improve your work-life balance as a small business owner, you're probably feeling pretty stressed right now. Maybe your health is suffering. Maybe you're spending too much time at work. Maybe you're not getting enough personal time, or time with family, or time with friends. Luckily, it doesn't have to be this way. It's not easy, but you can learn how to balance work and life. Keep reading to learn how to make small changes to your lifestyle to achieve a better work-life balance and have less stress in your everyday life!
What does work-life balance for small business owners actually look like?
It's hard being a small business owner. How are you supposed to equally prioritize the demands of your business and the demands of your personal life? That perfect work-life balance that lifestyle gurus talk about, that might not be possible for you right now. After all, you're probably prioritizing business growth, not vacation time.
Margaritas on a Tuesday? Probably not. But maybe you can take a Saturday off from your professional life, unplug from the emails and instant messages, and go for a long walk in your local park. If you accept that finding that perfect balance might not be possible while you're living your best #entrepreneurlife, you'll be better equipped to make the small changes that can lead to a big reduction in stress and a more healthy work-life balance!
Discover how to balance work and life both at home and in the office.
How to achieve better work-life balance at work
1. For an entrepreneur, good work life balance starts with clear hours each work day
We know! Sounds impossible, right? Obviously, small business owners aren't regular employees. If something needs to be done and there's no one else available, then you're the one who needs to do it. But a lot of work-life-balance issues come from simply spending too much time trying to achieve business success. That's why experienced entrepreneurs recommend establishing a routine and setting clear hours for your business life. Maybe it's more hours than you'd work if you were an employee. Maybe you absolutely need to work for ten hours each day. But, schedule those ten hours, and then—here's the important part—stick to your schedule! Did you get that? We'll say it louder: STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE!
A healthy work-life balance is hard without a good schedule
If you plan to work until 7pm, don't let yourself work past 7:05pm unless your business is literally (okay, or figuratively) on fire. If there's not a complete catastrophe that needs you, stick to your schedule.
2. Taking breaks during your work day is good for your performance
Reading the business news section of Twitter doesn't count. You need real break times. You need brain activities and body activities that aren't related to your business or any business. So, when you're crafting your schedule, don't plan to work ten hours straight—that's a recipe for heart disease!
You cannot perform to your full potential without good stress management
Make time in your daily schedule for healthy snacks, complete meals, stretching exercises, short walks, and, if you work from home with a pet, even a few minutes of cat or dog cuddles! It may seem like you're taking valuable time away from your small business, but breaks actually help reduce stress and make you more productive.
3. Consider a four-day work week for your small business
Okay. Just like flexible hours, this is a controversial one. And, again, we know this might not be possible for a lot of small business owners. But, even if you aren't able to give yourself a four-day work week, you might want to consider doing it for your employees. Companies around the world are experimenting with a four-day work week, and evidence suggests that a four-day work week increases productivity and well-being for employees. A four-day work week could improve your company's work-life balance and make it more attractive to potential employees who want to launch their careers—it might be the solution you need to improve your employee retention! Plus, being alone at the office or shop could give you the additional benefit of a quiet workplace for one day each week!
4. Delegate tasks to your employees
This one seems obvious, but it's something a lot of small business owners struggle with. The truth is, if you're tangled up in the minutiae of your small business, you're not going to be able to properly execute your business plan and scale your company. So... delegate, delegate, delegate! Figure out what you're especially good at in your business, and do that. Prioritise that, and delegate the rest ASAP. Don't believe us? Believe the numbers: CEOs good at delegating generate 33% greater revenue.
5. Automate tasks with the right software
We've already compiled a pretty great list of the 7 best apps for small business owners because of their ability to provide balance for entrepreneurs. And we really can't say enough about how the right tool makes any job less stressful and less time consuming. Say you want to maintain your company's social media presence, but you can't afford the cost of additional services such as a social media assistant or virtual assistant. What do you do? You get Hootsuite. Schedule posts during your working hours, and the tool will feed content to potential customers while you're eating lunch in the park. The same goes for business networking.
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How to achieve better work-life balance at home
1. Make personal time that's just for you, and focus on your mental well-being
Bring your best self to work and play by prioritizing alone time. Now, if you're picturing yourself meditating in lotus pose, well, that's great! Meditation and mindfulness are excellent ways to spend your alone time, but you don't have to go that far. Instead, make some time once a week to read a book alone in your backyard, or go for a walk by yourself in your local park, or take yourself out for ice cream on a hot day. Just don't stay stuck to your phone—that doesn't count.
Leave the workplace stress behind at some point in your daily routine
Whatever you choose to do, taking the time to be by yourself comes with emotional, mental and social benefits that can help you be a better version of yourself!
2. Plan family time and time with friends
We need alone time, but we also need time with others. We're social creatures. And, yes, as a small business owner, you're probably spending ample time with your employees. But there's a difference between employees and loved ones. So, turn off your business phone and schedule some extra time every week with the people in your life who bring you joy! Call an old friend. Take your mom out for lunch. Plan a movie night on the couch with your romantic or domestic partner. Just make sure you do non-work activities.
No social interactions lead to poor work-life balance and affect our mental health: don't forget to do check-ups on friends and family!
Remember, research suggests that socializing is good for your mental and physical health. It increases happiness and general well-being. And that sense of connection you get from spending time in-person (or remotely!) with loved ones, from being part of a community, well, it can make even the most difficult life decisions or business decisions feel less stressful.
3. Take activities off your plate
If you're a small business owner, you're probably a high achiever. You probably have a to-do list a mile long. Just like at work, you can relieve some of your at-home stress by delegating, by asking your domestic partner, or your housemates, or your kids to take on more responsibilities. And, of course, you can relieve stress by simply deleting items from your list of priorities. Think about your to-do list. Are there items that you really dislike doing? Are there chores that don't need to be done? Take them off your list.
Do not hesitate to delegate tasks that impact your stress levels
The trick with prioritization is to figure out what you value most, and go from there. Prioritize the most important things, and delete some of the least important things completely. Do you love spending time with your dog? Yes. So, take him to obedience school on Saturday mornings. Do you want to go to your cousin's engagement party? Not really. So, brush up on how to say "no" with a smile, and email your regrets. Boom. Done. Now you have more time with Rover, and you don't have to fake a smile all night.
4. Outsource chores to service providers
Who has time to do all those household chores that need doing? Not most small business owners. Well, as we learned when we interviewed a couple of our members a while back, one solution is to outsource household chores such as grocery shopping and cleaning.
There are many ways to lighten an entrepreneur’s busy schedule: outsourcing can be the key to a healthier work-life balance
Reduce stress and free up time by doing your grocery shopping with a store that offers delivery or curbside pickup. Get some extra wiggle room in your schedule by hiring a service to make your home spic and span!
5. Increase your productivity by automating chores with household robots
This one may be last on our list, but it's certainly not least. It's a lesson in resource allocation. One thing that can really help you achieve a healthy balance in your personal life is a robot. Got grass? Get rid of it with a robot lawnmower. Got dust? Don't spend your valuable time and energy on vacuuming, and don't pay a service to it either. Just get a robot vacuum and wave goodbye to one of your suckiest of household chores!
Are you sponsored by any of the brands you mentioned?
Heck, no! We're not sponsored by Roomba or Hootsuite. Promise. We just feel strongly that these tools can help transform your business life and personal life. Sure, we know that as a small business owner you might not be able to reach 100% work-life balance, but making small changes such as sticking to a schedule and buying a robot vacuum can make your lifestyle healthier, happier and more sustainable for years to come!