Work-life balance rests on the assumption that time spent wheeling and dealing, should be offset against a good amount of quality downtime. Small business owners, however, face an unusual sort of conundrum where work and life are inextricably linked. So finding a balance between these two worlds becomes complicated. Hands-up if you feel you have this under control? No? Well then consider these work-life balance hacks that will make all the difference when it comes to efficiency and peace of mind:
Manage Your Time
If you take just 3 words away from this article let them be: Eat That Frog.
This genius of a book ‘Eat that Frog‘ by Brian Tracy gives hard working folks a coherent list of ways to stop procrastinating and prioritize. Mark Twain once said that if you start each morning by eating a large frog, chances are that will be the worst thing you had to do that day. Tracy takes this idea and applies it to your daily tasks. Your ‘frog’ is that one thing you are absolutely dreading. But it’s also the one you need to do the most but will probably leave til last. Ironically it is also the one thing that is likely to free up the most energy leaving a hugely positive impact on your state-of-mind once complete.
Tracy suggests taking just 15 minutes per day to implement his ABCDE method. Write out your To-Do list and then prioritize alphabetically:
- A: Very important tasks. To do today. The Frog.
- B: Not very essential tasks but to do today.
- C: Nice to do. No consequences.
- D: You can Delegate to others.
- E: Eliminate (They may have been important at some stage).
Now, stick to the list. Don’t stray from the task at hand. The goal is to smoothly flow from one task to another throughout the day as seamlessly as possible.
The big ‘D’ in the list above is for Delegating. Outsourcing at home or work frees up time and gives you space to think. Many small business owners, particularly those who have started their businesses from scratch, have enormous difficulty delegating even the most minor of tasks. This is often out of fear of losing control. But balance is not so much about relaxing, as it is about freeing up head space and dropping your shoulders. Just knowing that things are being done in the background actually compounds your energy and empowers you.
Plan for Disruptions
Disruptions don’t need to catch you off guard. Consider allowing at least two ‘slots’ for planned disruptions from within the company. Let team leaders and employees know what times you have available for disruptions. You’ll be amazed at how others respect your time once you do the same. Chet Holmes, another time-management guru, says that when you lose focus due to distractions, it takes at least 15 minutes to get back on track. Think of this as the time taken away from a family meal or a rare moment to read the paper at the end of the day. When it comes to work-life balance, the sacrifice is real.
Don’t Answer Emails or Instant Messages
Now that you have earmarked time for disruptions from staff, apply this principle to yourself. Emails and instant messages are not the ‘Don’ of communication. So unless you are a trauma surgeon or a firefighter, messages can wait. A good idea is to set aside 15 mins every hour (or so) to check your phone and relieve anxiety. Of course, if something does catch fire, you are fully within your rights to handle it.
Block Out Unnecessary Noise
Besides not answering emails and IMs, you may want to consider limiting your media feeds. Don’t be a social media slave controlled by mindless strands which can pull you in and waste precious time you often don’t have.
Being an Entrepreneur is a Lifestyle
Entrepreneurs wake up as entrepreneurs, go to work as entrepreneurs, come home as entrepreneurs and go to bed as entrepreneurs. There is no ‘9 to 5’. No ‘work-life’ and ‘home life’. So business owners tend to be workaholics, believing that working hard is the only route to success. And so it is – but only up to a point. With a little discipline and planning, your time is yours to use. And work-life balance needn’t be a thing that only ‘other people’ have.
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