Finding a better work-life balance

Running a small business usually means your working day is almost never a nine to five affair. While this is the fate of most entrepreneurs, it's important that you strike a balance between being on top of everything at work, spending time with your family and getting some much needed rest and relaxation.

Many small business owners struggle to find time for everything they would like to do, with the large majority spending so much time on their business that a family and personal life fall by the wayside. Hard work and long hours go with the territory, but "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Finding a good balance between all the key aspects of your life starts with learning to set boundaries. It may not mean that each area gets an even slice, but at least you won't be sacrificing one for the other.

Five steps to better balance

Achieving the right balance in your life will be a constant challenge and will take some understanding and teamwork on the part of those around you. But first, you have some thinking to do:

  1. What's really important to you: Write down the five most important things in your life. You should end up with a list of your top five priorities, which may include your children, spouse, a thriving business, religion/spirituality, health, adventure/travel...
  2. Only do the crucial stuff: By making a concrete list of what really matters to you, you may find you're spending a lot of time doing things that aren't a priority. Adjust your schedule accordingly
  3. Protect your "me" time: Set aside time every day/week that contribute to yourself and your relationship. Don't let work or other distractions intrude. You'll see that this will improve your home and work life, making you more productive and creative at work
  4. You're part of a team: Allow yourself to rely on your partner, family, friends, trusted employees or anyone who can take some of the load off your shoulders
  5. Plan fun and relaxation: Until you get into the habit of taking time for yourself, set aside space in your diary for relaxation and fun. Plan what you're going to do and make the arrangements so you'll have to keep your commitment. You're the boss, so make the time

Work smarter, not harder

How many times have you come to the end of a task that has taken hours of your time only to find you should have done it differently? This happens due to a lack of planning. Before you start your day, take a few minutes to write down what needs to be done, by whom, by when and what your involvement has to be.

Allocate a timeframe for each task, so you don't waste unnecessary time and if you need to go to a few different places, map out the most logical route so you don't end up driving from one end of town to another and then back again.

This is also the time to work on your delegation skills. It's not crucial that you do everything! Despite what you may think, there are others who can do the job just as well as you can. To free up more of your time, hire more staff or allocate more responsibilities to the employees you already have. While the buck still stops with you at the end of the day, someone else can get the job done.

It will take some time and practise to get a better balance in your life, but keep working at it. Your life will seem a lot fuller.

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