Developing a work–life balance

Small business owners regularly exhaust themselves by working too hard. You need an effective work-life balance to stay in good health and to continue to enjoy your business. Creating a balance involves a conscious effort to create boundaries between home life and work.

Risks of overworking

You’ll quickly become counterproductive if you’re overworked. Feeling tired and stressed means you won’t be able to perform at your best. As a result, you’ll be more likely to make mistakes and treat your staff and customers poorly.

There are some inherent risks of overworking, such as:

  • Working to the point of exhaustion or even illness
  • Missing opportunities to enhance and grow your business because you’re too busy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Losing the original desire you had when starting your business
  • Spending less time with your family and being short-tempered when you do see them
  • Affecting staff with your own stress and mood, leading to a drop in their performance and attitude.

Define your work-life balance

As the leader of your business, you need to find your own work-life balance that will help you work optimally while having enough quality time to spend with your family and friends. You should set an example for your staff while encouraging them to establish their own work-life balances.

Be aware that your older staff will often appreciate regular vacation time and weekends free of work. Younger staff look for flexible work hours with opportunities to work from home.

With you and your staff working in harmony, your business will have a better chance of prospering.

How to prevent exhaustion

To regain a sense of balance and lesson your workload, there are some practical steps you can take.

Create boundaries: Restrict the number of hours you spend at work each week. Don’t take work home so you can keep a clearly defined distinction between work and home life. Try to avoid taking work-related phone calls or answering emails during downtimes.

Delegate tasks: Delegating will take some of the pressure off you and free up time for more urgent and important tasks. Your staff will also feel more empowered, giving them a greater sense of worth and value to your business.

Consult other business owners:Talk to other small business owners who seem to be working normal hours. You might get some valuable advice on how to improve your situation.

Review your clients: You may have some customers that take up too much of your time in return for very little gain.Find a way to pass them on to your staff to deal with so you can focus on bigger fish.

Discuss ideas with your family: Ask them for their suggestions. A point of view outside of your business environment could be useful.

Exercise: It’s not healthy to be stuck at your desk all day. Your body wants to be moving so get up from your desk occasionally to walk and stretch. Consider communicating to your staff members in person sometimes, instead of email. You’ll refresh your mind as well as your body – and that elusive solution might just pop into your head.

Schedule vacations: Put as much effort into planning your next vacation as you do for your business. A well planned vacation will leave your mind at ease while you’re away and give you much needed recuperation with family or friends.

Plan short breaks: Write in your diary when you’ll take a day off to spend with family, or keep an afternoon free to pick up the kids from school. Maybe schedule in a round of golf with old friends to get away from work issues.

Remember to enjoy the freedom of owning your own business by taking breaks in the knowledge that things will run well without you.

Keep motivated and enthusiastic

It’s vital you retain your enthusiasm for your business. A positive vibe will rub off on your staff and help to maintain an enjoyable workplace.

A loss of motivation will be noticed by those around you. Perhaps it’s time to re-energize yourself and your business. Keep yourself interested and try the following:

  • Re-engage your staff. Your business will be more successful if your staff care about their work as much as you do. Improve their work environment, or take them out for a social event, to show them how important they are to your business.
  • Establish some new goals. You may be able to renew your motivation with challenging but achievable goals that can be measured.
  • Change your daily routine. Assign times earlier in your workday to tasks that you enjoy doing, whether that’s visiting clients or checking emails or some other daily job.

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