Embarking on your entrepreneurial journey was supposed to give you freedom, but now it feels like work has taken over your life. Overwork is common among entrepreneurs, and it has consequences.
If longer hours, more stress, and missed opportunities outside of your business are coming to a head, you need to take corrective action. Here’s how you, as an entrepreneur, can achieve the elusive goal of work-life balance.
First fill your cup of non-work
Almost every person, regardless of their position or achievements in life, cites the same thing as the most valuable. If you can’t already guess, those are the loved ones. Humans tend to value their relationships with family and friends above all else.
However, many professionals, entrepreneurs in particular, reserve most of their family time for the end of their life. This practice can lead to decades of failed experiences that financial and business success cannot make up for. That’s why it’s essential to fill your time with things that fuel your heart, not your wallet.
While it shouldn’t take a health scare to bring you back to reality, it’s often what it takes to reset a workaholic’s path. Serial entrepreneur Mike Koenigs can attest to this firsthand. Koenigs had enjoyed great success in business, but with great sacrifice. It was a cancer diagnosis that inspired him to make a change that later brought success and balance. Today, he is focused on helping others achieve their soul purpose and putting their family first.
Putting yourself and your family’s needs first isn’t selfish, it’s essential for long-term success. If you don’t have a solid foundation, you won’t be able to reach your highest potential. So set limits on your work hours, step away for mid-day school recitals, and recharge yourself with personal activities that are simply for fun. By giving your real life its due, you can bring new energy to your working days.
Take the best parts of corporate life and make them your own
You probably don’t want to go back to corporate life anytime soon, but there are positive aspects to it that you shouldn’t be quick to dismiss. The most obvious benefit that many entrepreneurs overlook is paid time off. Stepping away from your life’s work may seem impossible, but it’s an important factor in establishing a work-life balance.
Most employees get an annual amount of paid time off, and more experienced hires often earn several weeks of that. Consider your current approach to PTO and be honest about your habits. If it’s been ages since you’ve taken a vacation, you can probably smell it. And if you usually bring your work with you when you go away, it’s time to create boundaries.
Review your current commitments, calendar, and income cycles to determine your busiest and slowest seasons. Next, figure out how many days a year your current commitments allow for true disconnection. Initially, this may come down to a small number of days, but this benchmark number is a start.
Use this calculation to assign a fixed number of PTO days that you will use each year. Block scheduled vacation time on your calendar, protecting that time for that much-needed disconnect. Share these dates with your employees so everyone can plan around your availability. Make it clear that this time is firm and you will not be in touch when you are away. With this clarity and planning, your team will be ready to handle business while you recharge.
Create a routine that keeps your priorities top of mind
A solid routine can be the difference between a successful entrepreneur and a poorly performing entrepreneur. Humans crave consistency, both in body and mind. Harness the power of routine to maximize your efficiency during work hours and increase your presence off the clock.
Routines create order and consistency wherever they are applied. And when you maintain them over time, they can also reduce stress. By creating predictability in your day, you can focus on the task at hand. This can lead to more productive work time, which is often followed by maximized results.
Sticking to a routine also benefits those you share your life with. Whether you’re picking up your child from school or getting ready for your bi-weekly date, routines strengthen relationships. When your promise to show up proves reliable, you build trust with the people around you.
Use your calendar to set boundaries for when work begins and ends, and plan family commitments. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and it will vary depending on the company you work for, so do what works for you. The goal is to establish a repeatable routine that allows you to keep your priorities top of mind.
Maximizing the benefits of entrepreneurship without sacrificing what matters most
Shaking up your current work-life cocktail may be easier than you think. Entrepreneurs are already built differently, and many of the traits that make them successful can be reused to achieve a better balance.
Use your proven ingenuity and tenacity to invest in the most critical actor in your business: you. When you do, you will approach your business and your life with a renewed perspective and a renewed sense of purpose.