8 EASY Ways to Begin Building More Work-Life Balance
The ultimate goal of work-life balance seems like a pie-in-the-sky dream to many small business owners and entrepreneurs. It sounds amazing, but investing the time and energy to achieve meaningful balance often feels like a challenge for another day. The effort it might take to reconfigure your work schedule or figure out how to prioritize self-care appears to be an insurmountable hurdle when you have a business to run.
As business owners ourselves, we understand the ongoing struggle to not only adopt work-life balance strategies but to maintain them. While the road to work-life balance is challenging, you can begin working toward that dream in small, easy-to-achieve steps. If you start out your journey with minor modifications, the bigger changes down the road will feel more doable. Try incorporating these eight strategies to slowly and effectively orient your lifestyle toward lower stress, balance, and happiness!
1. Take A Break
That’s right—just take a break! Like any other full-time worker in the United States, not only do you deserve to take breaks each day, but you are entitled to them. Even a short ten-minute break to walk around the block or grab another coffee without thinking about work (that part is important!) can help energize the rest of your day.
The constant grinding wears you down and leads to burnout. Scheduling some much-needed rest for your mind during the workday will improve your endurance and keep you focused. Consider taking breaks at points in the day when you are switching gears to a new type of activity. This will help ease transitions and your ability to jump into something new.
2. Schedule Family Time and Hobbies
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, everything work-related in your life is scheduled. Why not add family time and hobbies to the mix? Purposefully adding personal time to your calendar gives you a more realistic view of what you can reasonably accomplish each week. By leaving downtime with your family and friends off of your calendar, it might seem like you have much more time to reach your professional goals while in reality, your time may be more restricted than you think.
Adding personal time to your calendar also reminds you to take time to do things like spend quality time with your spouse or engage with your crafting hobby. Without the reminder, you might find yourself going weeks without attending to the parts of your life that offer you the most joy and reassurance. Your calendar also helps you prioritize. You won’t accidentally double-book your sister’s birthday dinner if it lives on your calendar with all of your other important appointments. When your work life is becoming too much, you find balance by emphasizing the other important areas of your life.
3. Set Boundaries
Set boundaries with everyone in your life from your family and friends to your team. Let them know when you are available for work and when you are available for personal activities. This takes the pressure off when you have competing priorities, but it should also reduce the number of conflicts because the people in your life already know what you are comfortable with. These boundaries also help you stay present no matter what your focus happens to be at the time.
It’s especially important to be clear with your team, colleagues, and clients. Make sure they know when you can and cannot be contacted about work-related concerns. This can include time during the workday. If you need quiet to truly focus on a project, block off time so your team knows not to interrupt you. If you work in an office setting, consider putting a sign on your office door that kindly indicates when you are or are not available
4. Learn To Say “No”
Learning to say “no” requires the development of different professional skills. First, you need to be aware of your realistic bandwidth. When asked to take on a project or task, consider your time availability alongside your energy levels. Next, consider your priorities as an entrepreneur and as a business. Some projects might not be right for your business, and it’s okay to recognize that.
Small business owners who fail to say “no” can easily fall into the trap of overcommitting and becoming overwhelmed, leading to burnout and decreased productivity. By learning to say “no” respectfully and effectively, you can focus on your priorities, build stronger relationships with your clients, and make more strategic use of your time and resources.
5. Use Separate Devices and Accounts for your Work and Personal Life
Similar to creating boundaries with the people in your life, using separate devices and online accounts can help you create boundaries in your digital life. This strategy is not for everyone, but it can be a very effective tool to help you switch your mindset from your work life to your personal life. By shutting down your work phone and computer for the day, you are allowing yourself to lay down the associated worries for the time being and be more present in your personal life.
To try out this strategy, start by creating a separate email account that you only use for your personal life. This way, checking an email from your aunt or your child’s school won’t inadvertently result in you spending the next hour reading all of your business emails when you’re meant to be having family time. If that works for you, find other ways to digitally compartmentalize the various areas of your life. Your Virtual Assistant can help support this process.
6. Don’t Work While You Eat
The temptation to continue working while you eat lunch or dinner is enticing for most professionals, let alone entrepreneurs and small business owners. You’re already so used to multitasking. Why would mealtime be any different?
The problem with this habit is that you are signaling to yourself that your most basic needs are not coming first. Your work is encroaching on your personal time which can bleed into many other areas of your life and continue to disrupt that balance you’re searching for. In addition, working while you eat can also lead to mindless, unhealthy eating and negatively impact your work productivity.
7. Stick to Your Schedule
You have a schedule for a reason. Stick to it! Use your schedule as an excuse to push new projects back or to avoid taking on more work than you can actually handle. When you have a well-designed schedule and calendar, including some of the tips already mentioned like incorporating personal time, you will be effortlessly guided through your day. Remember that your Virtual Assistant can help you create an effective schedule that works for you.
Relying on your schedule can reduce your stress. You eventually come to understand that by putting something on your schedule, you’re guaranteeing it will get done, even if it needs to be swapped to another day on your calendar. This alleviates the ongoing worry about specific tasks that need to be done or feeling like you might drop the ball.
8. Clean Up Your Workspace
The state of your workspace can reflect your state of mind. By tidying your desk or office at the end of each day, you are intentionally preparing to set down work for the evening. This makes it easier for your mind to transition to the next part of your day. You can also consider other activities that can help you switch gears from work to downtime. For example, you might listen to your favorite podcast on the drive home or lock the door to your home office.
Cleaning up your space at the end of the day also prepares you to start work again the next day. It’s easier to pause your work when you know when and how you will be addressing unfinished issues. Organizing your space for the next day signals that you have a plan for when your important work will continue which can make you feel more comfortable stepping away.
Achieve Work-Life Balance With a Virtual Assistant
While these tips will get you on your way to work-life balance, sometimes you need extra help. Virtual Assistants can take care of time-consuming administrative tasks, such as answering emails, scheduling appointments, and managing social media accounts, freeing up your time to focus on high-priority tasks or work in that much-needed personal time.
Not only does your Virtual Assistant reduce your workload, but they give you the opportunity to delegate tasks to someone who is skilled in that specific area. Your VA can also help you maintain a better work-life balance by handling tasks outside of regular business hours, managing personal tasks like scheduling doctor’s appointments, and providing daily agendas as needed. This support allows you to comfortably disconnect from work and spend more quality time with your family, friends, and hobbies.
Find out how a Virtual Assistant can improve your work-life balance.
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