New and existing business owners can often get overworked, excited by the prospect of growing their company. You may often think or hear the phrase “I’ll work hard now and get to live a good life when I’m retired.” But this isn’t a good option and it’s critical to find a midway point. It is, unfortunately, true that we can’t guarantee that we will live until retirement, seemingly fit and healthy people can come down with life-shortening illnesses, and anyone can be involved in a fatal accident – which is why it’s important to make sure you have the balance now. Even for those who do make it to retirement, they often find that their health is declining, they have fewer close family and friends and they’re certainly not as young and active as they used to be. Take the time now to find the optimal work-life balance, establish and nurture the connections that you have and take some time for yourself. We’ve put together this handy article with some tips and points for consideration.
1. Don’t Work Outside Your Work Hours
This one will seem obvious. However, saying ‘no’ is something that many people just can’t grasp. It’s time to normalise setting boundaries and having a structure to your routine. Where possible, avoid taking your work home – use this time away from work to refresh, get some chores done and spend time with your family. It’s okay here and there to do some overtime, especially if it’s a busy week, but do not make this a regular habit as you’re likely to burn out quicker.
2. Manage your time more efficiently.
This fits in with the above notion, but there is a little more depth than just saying ‘no’ to working outside your allotted work hours. It’s a good idea to build habits and have some direction. Therefore, you may find it beneficial to prioritise your activities and allocate time. For example, if you have a demanding task that requires your full attention, set aside a day where you will have no meetings. If you’ve got a hefty workload and a long list of tasks, prioritise which ones need doing urgently. But don’t let the non-urgent ones keep slipping away, set deadlines for when you’d like to accomplish these tasks. If you are finding your current workload too difficult, outsource or delegate your tasks and focus on the areas you’re best at.
In terms of leisure, if you know you’re going to be busy one week, swap a long meal out with a friend for a quick 30-minute catch up over coffee. Seeing friends for a little while is much better than not seeing them at all. You could even use your lunch break to go for a quick run, hit the gym or go for a swim. Alternatively, you can even overlap certain areas of your life. Such as spending time with your kids by doing a hobby you both like, painting, bike rides, football etc.
P.S This tip also includes removing time-wasting activities or people from your life! If you tend to spiral somewhere else when doing trivial tasks, just don’t do them – delegate that to someone else who can do it for you.
3. Take care of yourself
This is another obvious one. However, if you don’t take care of yourself, you are likely to feel worse and suffer from burnout. It’s easy to start feeling depressed if you neglect to allocate time for doing exercise and hobbies. From there, many often spiral into not eating healthy and letting chores get on top of them. It’s much harder to bounce back from this state of mind than it is to keep on top of it. The easiest way to do this is to build habits. It can take up to 6 months to build a habit, so make sure that you structure your time. Even just doing one chore a day can help you keep on top of your schedule, if you do it every week, it’ll soon become a natural habit. Being organised, eating healthy and taking care of yourself will help you to feel more positive and refreshed, allowing you to be more productive at work – work smarter, not longer.
4. Complete an audit to help you get organised.
Write down everything you do in a week, and how long it takes you to do it. This will help you understand how to prioritise your work, what tasks you can delegate and identify any areas you may want to improve.
Additionally, to get the bigger picture of your work-life balance, add up all the hours you spend working, and all the hours you spend not working. Factoring in the time you spend thinking or worrying about work can also help you see the bigger picture. Thinking about work often suggests that you may be suffering from work-related stress.
5. Don’t let the pressure of finding a work-life balance fall on you
If you are not the owner of the place you work for and don’t see that you can improve your situation, you can contact citizens’ advice to understand your rights at work. You are entitled to benefits, breaks and more. Speak up if your demands are too much, encourage candour and openness in the workplace.
If you are your business owner, try training managers to spot poor work-life balances. Offer flexible or home working options, ask employees what would make their life better, that you can offer in the workplace. Encourage stress-relieving or team bonding activities to keep morale high and give a well-needed break to the working day.At the end of the day, people make your company. Happy employees mean happier customers and a healthier working environment. Investing in creating a work-life balance and good working environment has been shown to improve productivity. Implementing features such as these and ensuring that yourself and your employees are taken care of can be beneficial.