Plenty of small business owners are stressed to the max. But you don’t have to be. Use these tried-and-true tips for achieving that elusive life balance.
1. DON’T BUY INTO THE 24/7 MYTH. Sure, running your own company takes a lot of time and energy. But contrary to popular belief, not all successful entrepreneurs work 80-hour plus weeks. Why did you start your business in the first place? Was one of the reasons to have more control over your life, maybe a little more flexibility in your schedule? Some weeks you’ll no doubt need to work harder than others, but be reasonable about how much you can work without getting burned out — or sacrificing other areas of your life.
2. IF YOU HAVE KIDS, TRY THE 9 PM SHIFT. You’d be surprised how many people, particularly entrepreneurs, knock out two or three hours of work after the kids are in bed. A lot of parents like the flexibility of being able to take their kids to soccer practice or just to sit at the kitchen table overseeing homework in the afternoons. Then they make up that work time after the bedtime routine.
3. KNOW YOUR BEST MEETING TIMES. Especially if you work at home, going to a meeting can get your usual routine out of whack. (For one thing, you have to get a shower and put on real clothes.) Think through your day and pick two times that are generally easiest for you to meet. Then be ready to suggest one of those times any time a clients asks for a meeting. When I worked at home, my best times were 11 AM and 2 PM. Meetings at those times kept me out of traffic and gave me solid stretches in the office to get things going in the morning and to wrap things up in the afternoon.
4. BOOK EXERCISE JUST LIKE YOU WOULD A MEETING. If working out is key to your life balance, make it a priority like you would any other time commitment. At the beginning of the week, put your exercise times on your calendar. If something comes up and you can’t make one of your exercise appointments, immediately reschedule your workout for another day.
5. RESPECT YOUR FAMILY LIKE YOU’D RESPECT A CLIENT. If you were at lunch with a client, you wouldn’t keep one eye on your Blackberry or be texting away on your iPhone. So don’t subject your family to that sort of distraction either. If you have dinner together as a family, pay attention to the conversation. If you’re putting your kids to bed, be present and focus on them.
6. TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF. This might be the most important tip of the whole bunch and maybe the hardest one to follow. If you don’t take care of yourself, you’re not going to have much to give anyone else — or your business. Do you need time alone to refill the well? Do you feel better when you meditate? Get a burst of energy when you spend time with your friends? Getting enough sleep is important to your wellbeing. Eating well is key to your energy levels. Make sure you do the things that keep you at the top of your game. When you thrive, your company is more likely to thrive as well.