While digital technology has made life simpler in many ways, it’s not without its flaws. One overarching theme in our constantly connected world is the struggle to unplug and find a healthy work-life balance.
Being able to log on from anywhere can make it hard to set boundaries for ourselves and others. Entrepreneurs, in particular, often feel enmeshed with their job and struggle even more to create a healthy division between their work and personal lives.
If you’re struggling, try these effective tips to find your work-life balance as an entrepreneur.
One of the most challenging aspects of being an entrepreneur is the lack of structure. Regardless of if someone is employed doing shift work or subscribes to the traditional nine-to-five job, there are typically clearly defined days and timeframes of when work starts and ends. While certain jobs have overtime and on-call periods, most people have someone to tell them when to work and when to stop.
Entrepreneurs lack that core structure. There might be specific meetings to attend or deadlines to adhere to, but everything else is flexible. As a result, many entrepreneurs struggle to find their balance.
There are many strategies for creating balance as an entrepreneur. One common method is to set working hours and stick to them. This could mean committing to working between specific hours and refusing to open emails after a certain point in the day. Committing to this method means creating a mindset shift about constant availability.
Another helpful strategy is to practice time blocking. Time blocking is the act of looking at the week ahead and blocking out periods for specific projects or activities. This strategy is beneficial for working in self-care activities as well.
Many entrepreneurs choose theme days for their workweek. For example, Mondays could be dedicated to client updates and marketing, while Tuesdays and Thursdays are meeting-free days that are dedicated to project work.
Regardless of the approach, the idea is to create a structure that allows for ample downtime.
Use Smart Tools
Choosing the right selection of tools can help mitigate the hands-on tasks entrepreneurs must accomplish each day. Investing in simple software to streamline productivity is a must.
Consider the act of sending a contract without any supporting tools. You receive a contract via email, print it out, sign it, scan it, attach it to the email, and send it back. This process could eat up an hour of the day, especially if there are glitches along the way. Conversely, with the right tools in place, you can review the contract on the screen, add an electronic signature, and fax from Gmail while waiting in line at the bank.
Automation is also a powerful asset for entrepreneurs. You can use automation to schedule social media posts, send emails, simplify invoicing, and more.
Know When To Delegate
Relinquishing control tends to be a challenge for entrepreneurs. After all, your business is your baby. While it might be a tough pill to swallow, you will eventually have to admit that you are not good at everything. Sure, you can build a website from scratch or create simple graphics for your social media — but are you going to do as well as a skilled web developer or designer? Even so, is it worth the time you spend doing it?
Entrepreneurs need to be precious with their time. Every moment you spend doing a non-revenue generating task, you must measure the opportunity cost of what you could have accomplished otherwise.
It’s also important to consider delegating and outsourcing to find more time for your life. If it means paying someone else to manage your social media calendar and email so that you can take your partner on vacation, do it.
Track Your Time
Don’t think of time tracking as a tool solely for hourly billing. You should track your time whether you’re working on a retainer or a flat-rate project. This strategy will help you identify how much time you’re wasting on distractions or non-revenue generating tasks. Additionally, it will help you highlight which projects are more profitable and where you need help from a subcontractor or tool.
Set Email Limitations
Consider setting email limitations for yourself. Rather than keeping your email open, set scheduled periods to check and respond throughout the day. This strategy ensures that your workflow isn’t disrupted, keeping you productive and on schedule so that you don’t end up working later for lost time.
Get into a routine of avoiding your email at the start of the day. Try to dedicate the first couple of hours of the day to self-care activities, such as exercise or focused work.
Create a “To-Don’t” List
As an entrepreneur, your life might be dominated by to-do lists or productivity apps — but have you ever considered crafting a to-don’t list?
Creating a to-don’t list is like drafting a constant reminder of your boundaries as an entrepreneur. Your personal to-don’t list could include things such as:
- Don’t work more than 40 hours per week.
- Don’t schedule work or meetings during family time.
- Don’t download distracting games or apps.
- Don’t say “yes” to every project.
Add things that you struggle with to your to-don’t list and post it somewhere visible to keep your work-life balance on track.
With these strategies, you can start to find your balance between work and the rest of your life as an entrepreneur.