Small Business

5 Tips for Work-Life Balance as a Small Business Owner

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Topics: Small Business

By SpotOn

Running your own business can be a thankless job, and with the weight of success lying on your shoulders, it’s easy to get consumed by work. When this happens, your personal and family life can suffer, but that’s not all. Studies show that overworking yourself can cause your business to suffer, too. Specifically, working too much leads to mental blocks, increased stress, and exhaustion, none of which are helping you run a successful business. To help you manage a healthy work-life balance, follow these five tips.

1. Set a Daily Work Schedule for Yourself

It’s true: when you run a business, there’s never going to be a shortage of tasks to complete. Having said that, not all tasks are equally important for the success of your business. If you don’t put limits on your work schedule, it’s easy to find yourself toiling away at tasks that offer little return.

By putting a cap on your work hours, you’ll find that you actually work more efficiently by prioritizing the most important tasks and getting them done before it’s time to leave. On top of that, you’ll get the time you need away from work to maintain your personal and family life.

  • Cap your work hours at a reasonable daily limit, preferably in the 8 - 10 hour range
  • Arrange your schedule so you get to spend time with your family and loved ones, whether that means coming in late so you can have breakfast with the kids and take them to school, or heading in early so you can meet friends for dinner
  • Save those really long days for when emergencies crop up at your business

2. Schedule Breaks for Yourself Throughout the Day

When you’re at your place of business, you want to be productive and get things done. While it might seem counterintuitive, the best way to be productive over the course of the day is to take regular short breaks. Studies show that taking these short breaks improves your creativity and problem-solving abilities.

To best do this, pay attention to your personal routine. If you find you have lulls in energy or attention at certain times of the day, that’s a perfect time for your daily break.

  • Get outside for a walk
  • Go to the gym or meditate
  • Read a book or magazine
  • Meet up with a loved one for coffee and a chat

3. Set Boundaries with Your Employees and Clients

If you give out your personal phone number and tell your employees to call you anytime there’s a problem, they will, even for small, mundane problems. Same deal with clients. It doesn’t do you angy good to get home in time for dinner if you end up on the phone or caught up in a back-and-forth email chain.

  • Communicate clear criteria to your employees as to what constitutes an emergency where it warrants calling you; put it in writing and post it, if need be
  • Establish clear expectations with your clients as to what your business hours are and how they can best reach you
  • If your business operates at night or during odd hours, make sure you have a competent supervisor who can handle standard issues that arise when you’re not there

4. Unplug from Technology

Even when you set appropriate boundaries with your employees and clients, modern technology can lure you into the trap of staying connected to your business even when you’re not there. When this happens, it’s like you never left work—your mind and body doesn’t get the break it needs to recharge your creativity and problem-solving skills. On top of that, you’re probably being a distant friend and family member if your face is constantly in your phone.

The easiest remedy is to remove the temptation:

  • Stay away from your computer and emails—they’ll still be there in the morning
  • Turn notifications off on your mobile phone, or simply turn your phone off altogether

5. Plan Occasional Vacations (and Actually Relax on Them)

Having a daily routine where you give yourself regular breaks is great, but it’s no substitute for taking a real vacation. The key to having a successful vacation where you can actually relax is to prepare so that you’re not worried your company is going to fail without you there.

  • Make a vacation budget and save money to pay for it
  • Prepare your staff to take on your responsibilities well in advance so they’re well-practiced
  • If you don’t have the right person to run the business for you, consider hiring a temporary manager, a retired business partner, or someone else you trust to manage the business while you’re gone
  • If you have to keep tabs on your business while on vacation, limit it to 1 – 2 hours per day

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