Achieving Work/Life Balance as a Small Business Owner
4/15/2016 9:51:30 AM
You pride yourself on managing your company and helping your employees juggle their problems. If they have an emergency at home, you’re there for them. You encourage them to take vacations and spend quality time with the family. But all too often, small business owners forego their own good advice and fail to ask themselves: How am I doing with my own work-life balance?
To get yourself back on track, try the following strategies:
Set goals for your home life, just like you do for work. You probably have no trouble making to-do lists for your day at the office or coming up with long-term projections for your business. You should do something similar for your home life, suggests Greg Chambers, the CEO of Chambers Pivot Industries, a sales and marketing consultancy, based in Omaha, Nebraska.
“CEOs are paid to get results. They’re good at it,” Chambers says. “They just need to apply it to their home life and their work life, and define what a successful outcome is.”
If you’re having trouble defining a successful outcome, Chambers recommends the “80-year-old you” exercise. “Think ahead to the happy, healthy, 80-year-old version of yourself, and have a quick, meaningful discussion about the choices you need to make today. What’s important?”
Establish boundaries. Designate separate hours for work and for your personal life. With any luck, never the twain shall meet. But if you do have trouble and find yourself working a lot of late nights, Samantha Ettus, a work-life wellness consultant based in Los Angeles, recommends this exercise: act like you live near a train station
“Pretend you’re going to miss your train if you don’t leave work at the same hour every day,” Ettus says, adding that you can give yourself a pass if there’s a true work emergency. If you consistently leave work at the same time every day, she says, you’ll be giving yourself a predictable lifestyle for your family. “Clients and employees will respect those boundaries, if you put them in place. The ones who don’t have a set schedule end up losing their personal lives.”
Optimize your errands. Ettus points out that running errands can be a real time-killer for some business owners. She advises running all of your errands inside what she calls the Golden Triangle, with the points of the triangle representing your home, your place of business, and your children’s school. “No errand should be done outside of that triangle,” Ettus says.
If you don’t have kids, then aim for no errand being outside of a five-mile radius of your business or home. The point is: everyone wastes time, and if you can find areas of your life where you can waste less, that may help you achieve a better balance.
Designate tech-free times. At some point every day, probably in the evenings, you’re going to want to avoid checking email, perhaps from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m., Ettus says. Having hours where you’re tech-free is critical if you really want to be present in your home life.
Take vacations. Both Ettus and Chambers stress the importance of taking time off. “The more you can plan your vacations in advance, the more prepared you are for them,” Ettus explains. She also notes that when you do take a stress-free vacation, you come back recharged, happier, and healthier, which can only help you at work.
Chambers points out that if one of your employees came to you, struggling with work-life balance, you’d probably offer up words of encouragement. So look in the mirror, and do the same for the person staring back at you.