When you run a business, there’s no such thing as a day off. There are always clients and vendors to deal with, employees to manage, and all kinds of miscellaneous fires to put out. So how can you keep your business from consuming your entire life? Be clear about forming boundaries. Check out these tips from small business owners on how best to create a proper balance between work and life.
Determine your priorities. Sarah Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs.com, recommends writing down a list of the top priorities in your personal life, such as your children’s birthdays or an annual vacation with your friends. “Going through this process will help you say ‘no’ to work when it really competes with your valued events in life,” she says.
Schedule out all of your time in advance. Day planners aren’t just for meetings: use them for scheduling blocks of personal time, too. “I spend Mondays working on my business development, Tuesday through Thursday working on client projects, and reserve Friday for personal appointments and ‘me time,’” says Allyson Piper, owner of the marketing firm Marketing In Bloom. “I communicate my schedule to my team and husband so there are no questions and they can make things work for me.”
Delegate and outsource tasks. You’ll have more time for family, friends, and personal hobbies if you spend less time working on lower-level tasks, so don’t be afraid to outsource. “If you are feeling overwhelmed, hire a part time assistant and start delegating your non-essential tasks to them,” says Chris Chong, president of SEO Smart Links.
Get out of the office for short breaks. Pat Chiappa and her husband run a financial planning practice, Spiritus Financial Planning, from a home office. “We live on a country lane and go out for walks twice a day, once mid-morning and once in the afternoon,” she says. “Although we talk business, we are experiencing beauty and are getting exercise at the same time.”
Set aside times to unplug. Your Blackberry can be your best friend, but it’s also your family’s worst nightmare. In order to really be present with the people you care about, turn off your phone, and take the time to enjoy your family and friends when office hours are over. “We close our office doors at the end of the day and on the weekends,” says Chiappa. “It’s easy for an entrepreneur to lose business by closing down the office, but we know how important it is to maintain a healthy balance, both emotionally and physically.”
What are your own tips for restoring balance? Share them in the comments.