If you’re struggling with work-life balance, you’re hardly alone. Nobody has it all figured out. Nobody has it down perfect. And if you ever do get it perfect, it will only be for a moment because your life is going to change or your business is going to grow and your balance is going to be thrown out of whack. While 100% work-life balance is far from attainable, there are strategies you can implement to get you on the fast track to achieving your unique, ideal balance. And you should want to get on that fast track as creating more balance will leave you more fulfilled than just sinking all your time and energy into your business alone or any single category of your life
Everyone’s ideal balance is different because everyone has different goals, businesses, visions of success, and personalities. Be cognizant that your ideal balance will change from season to season as your business grows, your kids or parents get older, you hire help, your passions transform, and your objectives change. The quest for entrepreneurial balance is a perpetual work in progress but one worth taking because its benefits are so great.
When you set out to achieve entrepreneurial balance, know that even a perfect work-life balance does not mean you spend an equal amount of time at work and outside of work. Nor does it mean you spend an equal amount of time in the different categories of your life, be it work, family, friends, socializing, school, community, volunteering, passions, hobbies, or self-care. It means the different categories of your life receive the time and attention you desire to give them. Measure your ideal balance in quality time not quantity. Quality is harder to measure but it’s the measurement that matters when it comes to seeking that elusive entrepreneurial balance.
Where You Can Create More Balance In Your Life
Especially for entrepreneurs, this category can expand so much that it bleeds into other areas of your life or squeezes other categories out entirely. While passionately growing your business, you may have fallen way out of balance and that’s completely normal. Your business is your baby and it demands your focus, time, and energy. Staying way out of balance is not normal, however, and will leave you feeling unfulfilled and empty, no matter how successful your business. Of the 25 biggest regrets in life, not a single one is I wish I had worked more. Number one? Working so much at the expense of family and friendships. Let that sink in.
The children who look up to you, partners who love you, parents who support you, and others who count on you. For these relationships to flourish, you have to give them your time and attention. What does your family request of you? What family activities do you want to be present for? Figure out where and when you can be fully present with the people you love to meet their needs as well as your own. If your family values having dinner together every night, do your best to make that happen even if it means finishing your work after they go to bed or leaving social events early. At least you’ll be present for the activity that matters most to them. You can’t be all things to all people so you have to be purposeful with where you spend your time, how you spend your time, and who you spend it with.
Attaining balance for you might include having a great social life. Some people have a ton of friends and need to go out every Friday and Saturday. Others have a few select friends and are fine going out once or twice a month. Determine what your personal social needs are and how often your friends expect to be blessed with your company. As an entrepreneur, you need to have a great network of support so it’s extra important to keep your relationships healthy by investing in them.
And because social invitations frequently just pop up instead of being planned far in advance, like when your friend texts inviting you for drinks after work, you need to be extra discerning. Maybe you already went out a couple of times during the week so you make the smart choice to say no and work a bit later that night.
You can literally work every weekend and every night as an entrepreneur but that’s a straight path to burn out. You need to schedule in social time. And being more efficient with your time during the day and choosing to be productive will give you more opportunities to socialize because it will free up your time for activities other than work.
If you feel inclined to be out in your community working, raising money, helping out, and volunteering, you absolutely should do so. Whether it’s being a greeter at your church, a board member of your HOA, performing for retirement homes, prepping meals at the food pantry, or doing walk-a-thons, find time to get involved and give back. Helping others is an enriching experience and it feels so good! If being one who serves others is who you are at your core and it’s where you get your joy from, make time for it.
Entrepreneurs can get so focused on create a business, build a business, grow a business that you forget about your other passions, the ones you had long before you even dreamed up your business plan. Or maybe you’ve recently discovered you have a passion for a new activity. What do you daydream about? What would you be doing today if working wasn’t an option and other responsibilities were already being handled? Figure out what really lights you up that has nothing to do with your business and make an effort to engage in those activities regularly, even if only for short periods of time.
Self-care and sleep are the first things that go by the wayside as your business grows and you become more taxed with your commitments. You know an adequate night’s sleep is necessary to function at your best the following day but likely your sleep tends to be encroached upon as your plate fills up with important projects, tasks, and deadlines. If you’re not getting enough sleep, it means you’re doing too much of something else and need to cut back.
The same goes for self-care which is of the utmost importance if you want to be in business for the long haul and not suffer physically and emotionally draining burnouts. Are you taking good care of yourself? Or are you reaching for sugary drinks for energy, highly caloric vending snacks because they’re accessible, and fattening fast food because it’s fast? Perhaps you’ve even put on the, ahem, Entrepreneur 30?
Determine what habits will get you back on track to being healthy and enable you to perform at your best. Might you need to meal prep? Walk during your breaks? Work out five hours a week? Sleep nine hours each night? Have a spa day once a month to rejuvenate? However you best achieve wellness, carve time out in your schedule for those activities.
These are the activities that have to get done to keep your world going around - the laundry, grocery shopping, weed pulling, cooking, dishes, bill paying, driving, errands, bathing. These activities add up to huge amounts of time, time that could possibly be better spent elsewhere. Delegating some of these tasks is ideal but that’s not an option for all entrepreneurs, especially if you’re just starting your business. You can reclaim time by completing these activities more efficiently and thinking outside the box. Small changes like batching all of your errands on the same night per week, using paper plates, and preordering your groceries online can be huge time savers when compounded over time. Then you can reallocate that time to other activities where you’d rather be spending your time.
For every area you want to create more balance in your life, you must establish boundaries and honor them. If part of your success schedule is having a morning routine, you need to stop working at a certain time every night so you can get to bed on time and wake up refreshed and motivated to work your routine. If one of your goals is to have dinner with your family three nights each week, you have to stop working at a certain time no matter what to make it home in time for dinner those nights. Exercising self-discipline with the boundaries you create is necessary if you want to achieve entrepreneurial balance. Schedule your time purposefully and stick to your plan!
And you can’t start negotiating. If you say you’re going to stop work at 6pm but then push it until 6:30pm, you’ll arrive home late, start dinner late, put the kids to bed late, go to sleep late, and then you either won’t get enough sleep so you can start your morning routine on time or you’ll rush through your morning routine because you allowed yourself to sleep in those 30 minutes. When you negotiate with yourself nobody wins because you can’t just get that time back. You’re borrowing it from another area of your life. One undisciplined decision has a serious way of prompting a snowball effect of consequences. As the very wise Will Smith said, “Self-discipline is self-love.”
Saying no to activities that don’t align with your goals like certain recurring meetings, non-valuable social events, gossip magazines, and scrolling Facebook for hours is important but saying yes is important too. You need to say yes to many non work-related activities too because leading a happy, fulfilling, and rewarding life should be part of your long-term goals. Stop telling yourself you can enjoy a fun night out after XYZ projects are complete because your business is constantly evolving so there’ll always be projects to get done. As long as you’re in business you will never be out of things to do. You have to find peace with that and allow yourself to enjoy life outside the office.
Say yes to family functions, date nights, social gatherings, parties, concerts, hobbies, and other activities that make you whole. Your mental, spiritual, and emotional health matter – not just the health of your business, so say yes! Just be discerning with which activities you say yes to. All-work and no-play is not sustainable.
Creating entrepreneurial balance circles back to being productive because you’re essentially reclaiming time from activities where you’re spending too much time and investing it in activities where you’d rather be spending your time like your hobbies, passion projects, family, friends, and self-care.