How to achieve work/life balance when you’re a busy entrepreneur – 7 tips

Every entrepreneur knows that when managing and developing a business, something’s gotta give. And often times what gives is their personal and family life. And ultimately their happiness.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You can have your cake and eat it too.

Here are 7 tips to achieve work/life balance even when you are a busy entrepreneur:

  1. Prioritise your family life

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Your family activities are as important as your business lunches and staff meetings. Taking part in your family’s activities such as your kids’ anniversaries, school events, dining out with your partner or going on vacation is beneficial for your business, not detrimental.

Here’s why according to Michael Cole, co-founder and CEO of Picniic:

  • Your loved ones will encourage you when you face challenges;
  • You don’t have to celebrate your accomplishments alone (which is quite depressing!), your family is there to celebrate with you;
  • Talking to your partner can be helpful if you want to acquire new perspective on things or new ideas;
  • Having many responsibilities at home as a spouse and/or parent will help you develop time management skills as an entrepreneur: “you become more competent in determining the best use of your time, and deciding what is worth your time, both at home and at work”;
  • Because you can’t do everything yourself, you learn how to delegate tasks to people you trust: “Cooperation and support is what family is all about, and really the foundation of a great business”.

A start-up founder needs to make sacrifices, but having a family and a balanced family life doesn’t have to be one of those sacrifices. The trick is to find the right balance for you. For me, the balance was to use my family life as inspiration for my career.

Michael Cole

If it’s not on your calendar, it won’t get done. So schedule your family activities like any other business task.

  1. Put technology to good use

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Technology is often seen as the biggest enemy of our modern lives. Dozens of emails received daily, hundreds of social media notifications etc. - we have to fight off so many distractions, which consume our time and attention.

Managing our time, both at work and at home has become something of an art. Not having enough time to accomplish all tasks at hand is one of top 3 challenges for entrepreneurs.

But there is hope! Read our article 5 time management tips & tricks for entrepreneurs.

Technology is only a tool, you have control over it: it’s up to you to put it to good use. There are a lot of good apps or programs that can help you schedule your time effectively. Read this article to discover a few options of such tools: TOP 10 Scheduling Tools to Propose Meeting Times 4x Faster.

  1. Don’t take on more than you can carry

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When you’re doing what you love, hours fly like minutes. It’s easy to get wrapped up in your projects and forget about the world outside your office. It’s very tempting to take on more than you can carry.

Your motivations behind this behaviour may be one of the following according to this article:

  • You may feel pressured by investors, clients or partners;
  • You have the desire to please others;
  • You have a hero mentality;
  • Lack of real understanding of the work involved during planning;
  • Not taking individual availability/capacity into account;
  • Lack of prioritization.

But you need to resist the urge to over deliver and overcommit because the end results are not what you hoped they would be:

  • Lower quality of work;
  • Burnout;
  • Lower overall productivity.
  1. Set boundaries

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If you feel a life-work balance is not a realistic goal, than setting work-life boundaries may be right up your alley.

Ellen Kossek, author of Managing Work-life Boundaries in the Digital Age, found there are 3 styles of boundary setting:

  • Separation - where your time is segmented into certain hours of the day for work and certain hours for personal time;
  • Integration - where you blend work and personal time throughout the day;
  • Cycling - where you experience cycles of heavy work and heavy time off.
  1. Don’t work when you’re sick

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You may think this is obvious, but you won’t believe how many entrepreneurs keep working through sick days. If you count yourself among these entrepreneurs, it’s time to set yourself apart.

Pushing yourself to work as usual while sick is more damaging and it doesn’t help you. During sickness your body needs downtime to recover so going to work is just going to add more burden for your body.

Making decisions while trying to recover from a cold is not a good idea. Research has shown the common cold can affect attention, behaviour and cognitive function. So being sick influences your decision-making ability - don’t risk it!

  1. Choose a flexible work environment

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The working environment has changed a lot to accommodate employees’ needs and requirements. Many companies have already begun to steer away from the old 9 to 5 office time.

Today there are many work environment options the employer and employee can choose from such as unlimited vacation, results-only, remote work, job-sharing. You can read all about them in our article:

Employee stress - causes, business costs and how to prevent it.

  1. Place me time in your work calendar

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Many busy entrepreneurs feel they need to keep themselves going at all times. Not doing “anything” business related just seems like a wasted time. But entrepreneurs are not machines, they are people. And people need a break from time to time.

The lack of time to yourself can cause you to build up resentments that can harm both you and your relationships. When you spend all your time filling other people’s cups, it’s likely yours will run empty. 

Fawne Hansen

Allowing yourself me time is good for your health as Fawne Hansen details in her article:

  • You avoid the onset of stress, poor concentration, increased irritability, insomnia, mental fatigue etc.;
  • Whether it’s reading a book, going for a run or listening to your favourite podcast, me time will refresh and re-energize you;
  • It allows you to think more clearly and make better decisions;
  • It builds your self-esteem over time, as you come to realize that you are important and deserve to have a little time to yourself.

Me time is mandatory if you want to keep your mental and physical health in check, be productive and inspired at work.