Nowadays it’s all too easy to be overwhelmed by work. Those people who deeply love what they do and have a strong commitment to it, sometimes struggle to set boundaries. Running your own business can make it even more difficult to step out of the professional role.
Accessing work emails and making phone calls outside of the physical office, educating oneself, attending meetings and networking all the time can drastically reduce the space reserved for a personal life.
Switching off after an intense day at work is fundamental to recharge the batteries, and this becomes particularly important in this digital age we’re living in, where we seem to always be "connected". It’s been four years running a start-up, so here are a few smart pieces of advice to maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Stop being a perfectionist
A lot of "hungry" entrepreneurs tend to strive for perfection, allowing themselves only a small margin of error. There will be days when you feel completely swamped and cannot possibly imagine how you’re going to complete all of the tasks by the end of the day. Or there will be other days in which you will have to face new situations with no instruction or direction. These scenarios, combined with perfectionism, can potentially put you at risk of burning out really quickly. Always striving for perfection can add unnecessary stress to your day, affecting your personal life also.
In order to avoid this, it is important to let go of the ideal, striving instead for constant professional improvement. Running your own company does allow you the freedom to think outside of the box, allowing yourself to be a little creative with how you manage your business and avoiding unnecessary stress. Wellbeing and entrepreneurship are not exclusive entities. You can and must use your time wisely, particularly during a hectic week, to ensure that your tasks are completed with as little stress but high efficiency as possible.
A healthy body leads to a health mind
As the Latin phrase goes; "mens sana in corpore sano" meaning; a healthy mind in a healthy body, unarguably the starting point for any entrepreneur. To be in it for the long game and achieve the best results, you must look after yourself mentally and physically.
Take care of your nutrition, starting the day with an energy-laden breakfast and, if you have time, 20 minutes of exercise to help feed and focus the mind. Exercise is the best way to shake off any tension and it could also be a good occasion to spend time with your loved ones, for example; going to the gym with your best friend. If meditation is your cup of tea, take some time every morning to dedicate to it, letting your mind still, whilst receiving the energy needed to start the day.
Being healthy also means allowing yourself high quality free time, ensuring to unplug and unwind in the evening. Take up a hobby, watch a film or cook a meal for yourself; the mind needs a break from ‘work’ to ensure a solid night’s sleep and a productive next day. It all rolls into each other.
It is just as important to set yourself a finish time as well, as Chris Tonkinson is quoted as saying on Infusionsoft: "Setting a firm quitting time each day leads to greater productivity and happier home-life. Counter-intuitive as it seems, this daily deadline keeps me more focused and effective when I am working."
Weekdays vs. weekends
Structure can be perceived as non-existent in the life of an entrepreneur. Planning ahead and rules are easily scoffed at, with the perception of having the freedom for a leisurely lifestyle and luxurious client meetings clouding the reality of the situation.
It is therefore of utmost importance that as an entrepreneur you clearly define your boundaries between work and personal life from the very beginning. A solid example to go by is: weekdays for work, weekends for family, friends and reading. If your business is your greatest passion though, you can always dedicate time over the weekend to learn and educate yourself, whatever industry you are in, as during the working week there’s not always time to do it.
It’s fundamental not to forget what it is most important in your life, defining priorities and devoting quality time to them. It will be easier to schedule if you start from here, organising your time between your weekdays and weekends.
Obviously this can change according to deadlines and social engagements, but generally speaking this structure is a good one as it allows for focus and fewer distractions during the working week, which in turn means that the weekend can be enjoyed fully. Regardless of how crazy things get with business, it is absolutely essential to devote quality time to your loved ones, for both of your sakes.
Be tech savvy
As an entrepreneur, particularly one in tech, there’s no doubt you’ll own a number of devices: each with a different purpose, all with the aim of making your life easier. Use your tech wisely for both personal and professional means. For instance; entrepreneurial life often means travelling overseas, sometimes for periods of time, so make sure you have the best systems in place to make those necessarily seamless calls to clients and your loved ones; ensure you have storage to download business literature, but also TV shows/films/e-books that will help you disconnect during a break.
"It's a balance. You are heavy and I'm small. When I'm small, I can jump. You're heavy. You cannot jump." said Jack La, founder of Alibaba who practices taiji philosophy
Life as an entrepreneur is busy, varied and rewarding, but it will only stand the test of time if you master the sweet, fine balance between professional and personal life. If you’re running your own company it usually means that you are passionate about that industry; and with passion comes dedication, and dedication means long hours, particularly in the early days. You may not have the traditional nine to five job but do allow yourself to step away because, ultimately, you will only succeed if you have open-minded, well-rounded lifestyle, enriched with the things you love.