Are you struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance as a solopreneur or small business owner? You’re not alone. Out of 40 countries in the OECD index, the United States ranks 29th for work-life balance. This stat, which looks at averages across the nation, is indicative of a widespread problem: Americans are overworked. Entrepreneurs, however, take this to a whole new level.
Whereas the average American works just under 34 hours per week per data gathered by Inc., the typical small-business owner clocks more than 50 hours. Around 70 percent give up weekends on a regular basis to work too. It’s not surprising, then, that burnout is a major problem. The vast majority report some degree of burnout, with 25 percent saying they feel moderately burned out and three percent saying they are strongly burned out, according to HBR research.
The implications are far-reaching. Personal relationships, health, focus, and even business success rates all begin to decline as balance shifts and burnout takes over. Thankfully, taking just a few simple steps can help prevent your working life from overtaking your personal life, so you feel better and are more effective at work too.
What Does it Mean to Have a Healthy Work-Life Balance?
There’s no singular definition of what it means to have a healthy work-life balance and there are generational differences too. However, prior generations had the benefit of being able to leave work at work when the day was finished. In today’s connected world, the digital to-do list follows people home.
Having a healthy work-life balance means being able to compartmentalize to some degree; to be able to set aside dedicated non-working hours to manage your personal life and rejuvenate. In short, it’s setting up your schedule to prioritize your well-being. Contrary to what many entrepreneurs think, however, it doesn’t necessarily mean to the detriment of your company. Even a solopreneur can create balance and improve the outcome of their business as a result.
How Do You Maintain Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur?
As a small-business owner, work-life balance may not come easily at first. It’s a lifestyle shift. You’re ultimately responsible for setting up a schedule that makes the most effective use of your time to ensure important tasks are completed during your workday and structuring your days in a way that allows you to have downtime for leisure and personal tasks.
For this reason, it’s important to tailor your plan to your unique needs and set yourself up for success. We’ll go over some components to include in your plan below.
5 Ways to Achieve Work-Life Balance as a Small-Business Owner
Whether you’re trying to carve out more time for a hobby, meditation, family, or just want more sleep, the five steps outlined below will work together to provide you with the work-life balance you need.
1. Set Boundaries
You’ll need to set boundaries as a first step. The rules you create serve as the framework for balance until your new behaviors become a habit. Some boundaries you may choose to set include:
- Total number of hours worked per day or week.
- Hours of the day available for work-related tasks.
- Days of the week available for work.
- Circumstances under which employees may contact you outside of your normal working hours.
2. Create Priorities
All the boundary-setting in the world isn’t going to help if you feel like you’re not accomplishing what you need to during the day. Let’s be realistic, you’re going to start making excuses about why it’s ok to ignore the boundary you’ve set “just this once” if you feel you really need to take care of something. But, it’s never just once. You’re undermining your new behaviors and, thus, the good habits you’re trying to develop when you bend your boundaries to accommodate priority work.
For that reason, it’s essential to create a list of priorities. Start with things you need to accomplish during the month, then break it down by week, and day. Keep it as short as possible and limit yourself to no more than two or three essential tasks per day.
3. Get Organized
Set the stage for success by setting up your primary workplace and anywhere else you conduct work in a way that naturally increases your efficiency. Explore software and automation that may help you monitor your to-do list, as well as systems that can help you keep all related documents in one area. For example, if you constantly find yourself digging through emails to find customer correspondence, it may be time to invest in a CRM that lets you see all communication sent in one place. Likewise, if you can’t find receipts when you’re balancing your checkbook or doing taxes, it may be time to pick up bookkeeping software. These resources will help you become more organized now and make it easier to scale your business too.
4. Delegate Tasks
You’ll be working less and focusing your hours on priority tasks, so there will likely be some tasks remaining. This is where delegation comes in but bear in mind that you can delegate to employees and external talent, such as contractors or professional specialists like bookkeepers, HR, and payroll processors. This ensures you’re spending time on the things only you can do and still getting all the bases covered. If you’re worried tasks won’t be completed to your specifications, create a checklist for the person completing the task that outlines your guidelines for successful completion.
5. Minimize Distractions
When you’re trying to work, shut off email and social media notifications and check in periodically instead. Smartphones often have settings that allow calls to come through during certain hours and silence them during other hours. You may even be able to create unique settings by caller which is helpful when you need to focus on work and minimizes interruptions to your personal time.
Give Yourself More Breathing Room with Factoring
Slow-paying clients can also impact work-life balance for small-business owners. You may find yourself constantly shuffling your budget to address sluggish cash flow, pouring hours into chasing invoices, and constantly scrutinizing numbers to find the cash to cover expenses or grow. If your B2B clients take 30, 60, 90, or more days to pay, you can eliminate waits through invoice factoring. Request a free quote from Charter Capital now.