Work-Life Balance in Small Business
Work-life balance is crucial in achieving success, no matter the size of your business, more importantly, however, achieving a positive work-life balance is crucial for your overall health and well-being. For many small business owners, it can seem like an enormous challenge to juggle the demands of working on and building a business with that of maintaining a healthy and productive lifestyle, outside of work. Working long hours, neglecting health, and missing out on important family and personal activities can all contribute to burnout in the long run, decreased productivity, and can even affect personal relationships and health. Therefore, it’s essential to develop strategies that will help you as a small business owner maintain a healthy lifestyle without compromising on the success of your business. The good news is that although, depending on your circumstances this might seem like a huge or impossible task, achieving work-life balance in a small business is very much doable with the right strategies, approach and mindset.
Work Life Balance Tips
Set and Prioritise Boundaries
When you have a million and one things to do (and you find more, the more you reflect), one of the biggest challenges can be hard to turn off work mode. If you’re talking about work, thinking about work or carrying out work, you’re probably still in work mode. This can spread across into family occasions and conversations with friends. You may even miss a birthday or event because you’ve been laser-focused on your work, and now your personal life is suffering as a result. However, it’s important to set boundaries and prioritise the time you have available to you, effectively.
Make a list of your priorities and allocate your time accordingly. Set specific hours for work and stick to them. Avoid checking your emails or answering work calls after hours. Identify the boundaries, set them and stick to them.
Outsource or Delegate Tasks
I completely understand if you feel that you need to be involved in every aspect of your business. The reality is this can lead to a heavy workload and high levels of stress, which can impact your decision-making and more importantly, your overall well-being.
Delegating tasks to employees or outsourcing routine and non-specialist tasks to third parties can help to save a huge amount of time and subsequently alleviate pressure as well as reduce stress. It’s essential to focus on your core competencies and delegate tasks that can be done by someone else, especially if these are non-core or supplementary business activities (marketing, IT, etc). This approach will free up time for you to focus on high-priority tasks that require the specific skills and expertise your clients can’t get elsewhere.
One way to identify tasks that can be delegated is to evaluate your daily routine and create a list of all the tasks you perform daily, or otherwise, regularly. Categorise them based on whether they’re essential, routine, or non-core tasks. Essential tasks are those that require your specific skills and expertise. Your bread and butter, routine tasks are those that are necessary but can be done by someone else, and non-core tasks are those that are not essential to the business’s operations. Once you’ve identified the tasks that can be delegated, you need to find the right people for the job, whether this means delegating your own people or outsourcing the work to others. Consider strengths, expertise, motivation and capability, assigning tasks accordingly. Where there are tasks that require specialised skills, consider outsourcing to a third-party contractor with your required expertise, especially where their values align with yours for best impact.
Delegating tasks have the added benefit of having a positive impact on your employees’ job satisfaction and engagement. When employees are given opportunities to take on new tasks and responsibilities, they feel valued and are more likely to be motivated to perform at their best and show that they can be successful in their new responsibilities.
Anyone can delegate, but effective and impactful delegation requires a combination of joint work, effective communication and trust between the parties. Make sure to communicate expectations clearly and provide the necessary training and resources for assigned tasks, as well as ongoing support to ensure the outcome of delegated duties meet your expectations and that completion of the required tasks is done so to your satisfaction.
Take Breaks and Vacations
It may seem counter-productive to your business efforts at first glance but taking regular, meaningful breaks and vacations are both essential aspects of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Schedule regular breaks throughout the day to stretch, walk, meditate or practise mindfulness in the everyday. Take vacations to disconnect from work and recharge your batteries. You’ll find that even a short or weekend break can help you refocus and come back to work with renewed energy, creativity and problem-solving abilities.
Many don’t recognise that flexible work arrangements can be beneficial for both you and your employees. Flexible working arrangements can help you better balance your work and personal life while also increasing employee satisfaction and retention overall.
- Remote work, for example, can allow employees to work from home, reducing the amount of time and money spent commuting. This can also help employees better balance their work and personal life by providing greater flexibility in terms of when and where they work while reducing the stress that they might have otherwise experience as a result of their commute.
- Flexible hours, on the other hand, allow employees to adjust their work schedule to better accommodate personal commitments or preferences. This can include allowing employees to come in later or leave earlier in the day, part-time or working on a job-0share basis.
- Job sharing involves splitting a full-time job between two or more employees, with each employee working part-time hours. It allows for greater flexibility and work-life balance for employees, while also ensuring that the job is fully covered so it’s a win-win for employer and employee.
Offering flexible work arrangements can also be a way of attracting and retaining top talent, while also creating a positive work culture that prioritises a responsible, work-life balance.
Make Time for Hobbies and Activities
Engaging in hobbies and activities outside of work can help you recharge and reduce stress without going to the extent of taking time away from work, necessarily. Make time for hobbies and activities that you enjoy, such as reading, gardening, or playing sports. Sports are especially good for your body and your mental health. Making time for things you enjoy can help to find a sense of balance and fulfilment outside of work.
You’re busy: it’s easy to get caught up in the demands of your work and neglect your physical and mental health, especially when you’re invested in your clients and the work you do for them. However, neglecting self-care can have serious consequences, not to mention that it has a negative impact on your ability to perform at work and in many other areas.
Trust me when I say: You can’t achieve a work-life balance, without taking care of your physical and mental health. I cannot stress this enough: It’s important to prioritise self-care activities. Eating a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and managing stress are all examples of self-care.
- Eating a healthy, balanced diet is can have a profound impact on physical health, mental health and energy levels.
- Getting enough sleep is also essential for maintaining physical and mental health. Aim to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night to ensure that you are well-rested and able to perform at your best.
- Make time for regular exercise, even if it’s just a quick walk or stretch during the workday, your steps every day will add up. If you aren’t motivated to exercise, try incorporating this into your daily routine instead of going out of your way to do it.
- Find stress management techniques that work for you, yoga, meditation, Tai Chi or deep breathing exercises have all been shown to be effective for stress management.
Communicate with Your Team and Family
Effective communication is crucial for achieving work-life balance. Communicate with both your team and your family about your priorities and schedule in a transparent way. This transparency can help reduce misunderstandings and conflicts and ultimately help to improve your relationships both at work and at home.
Start by setting clear boundaries between work and personal time. Let your team, as well as your family know when you’re available and when you need to focus on work. Make sure everyone understands that there are certain times when you cannot be interrupted unless it’s an emergency. This will help to ensure that you have the time and space you need to focus on your work when you need to. With this in mind, it’s important to be open to feedback and suggestions from both your team and your family. Encourage them to communicate their own priorities and needs, so that you can work together to find solutions that work for everyone. Be willing to compromise and make adjustments to your schedule as needed to accommodate the needs of others.