Having an intense professional career or being a busy entrepreneur can be extremely exciting, but it can also be challenging. It’s not just challenging for you but also likely for your family and close friends too as they feel the impact of your workplace commitment affect their own lives. It’s important to recognise both these facts and take steps to address them – not least because it is going to make your life a lot easier and more balanced, overall having a positive effect on your work, productivity, your life and those in your life. Getting that work and life balance right is arguably one of the most difficult things you can undertake and it will be an ongoing project you’ll need to continue as things change but it also can have a profoundly positive impact on your life.
How to balance work and life
Increasing demands at your workplace or business and fast pace life have disturbed the work life balance, and there is a need to set boundaries and adhere to the set limits to ensure that you maintain a balance between your professional and personal responsibilities. Where negligence towards work may jeopardise your career, excessive working hours may bun you out. Hence, to remain productive and satisfied, a balance is necessary. Following are a few tips to help you plan a strategy for striking a balance between your personal and professional life.
1. Take time for a holiday
Holidays provide you with a much-needed break from the pressures of professional responsibilities. If you are not able to afford or take time out for long holidays, you might consider taking regular breaks during long weekends. Extend your weekends to a day or two and spend quality time with your family, friends, or with yourself.
The rift between your work and family life can become particularly acute during festive occasions such as Christmas and over the summer holidays, especially if your family were used to having your undivided attention in the past. If you continually make phone calls and check your emails while you are on the beach making sandcastles with your children, or you are glued to your laptop while the kids are opening presents and having fun, it is hardly surprising that they might feel resentful. The fact is, if your career or business is going well, then taking a few days off for Christmas is not suddenly going to send it under. And if your business is not going well, then working every hour there is over Christmas is unlikely to save it.
2. Define your work and life boundaries
Make a clear distinction between your work and personal life to define your limits at both fronts. Even a task as simple as travelling between your home and office can contribute towards distinguishing between your work and personal life. You may employ all the possible tools and strategies to serve this purpose (this goes hand in hand later on with figuring on how you safely involve your family in your work).
3. Filter your calls
You may employ the latest technology to filter and manage your calls online. This way, you will have fewer chances of mixing your work and personal life. Update your call schedules to comply with your overall schedules for more convenient working and ensuring that you are connected to your business even when you are away. Hence, you do not have to worry unnecessarily about losing out on any potential customers.
4. Ensure to take your meals regularly
While working, be particular about taking reasonably timed breaks for your meal times. If you are working from home, you may schedule your meal times so that you may be able to enjoy a good meal with your family.
Make your meal time a part of the quality time to be spent with your family and put away all the distractions, like mobile phones, while having your lunch.
5. Take proper sleep
Negligence towards your acquiring sufficient sleep may have disastrous consequences on your health, as well as, on your work-life balance. Consider taking power naps during noon to increase your energy and productivity at work and stay energised and active at all times.
6. Identify your limitations
Identify your work and personal life aspects that are in your control and then devise processes and schedules accordingly. Spend time working around factors that are in your control to achieve a balance in your life.
Outsource as much as possible so that you can allocate and schedule your tasks in a better manner. You may also consider the employment of technological tools and a virtual assistance to help you organise your schedule and meetings.
8. Know when you are most productive
Some people work better at night, while others are more productive during the daytime. Assess yourself to know during what time you are most productive and devote this time to tackle the most complicated and difficult of tasks.
Balancing work with your family life
There are three main reasons why your decision to start a business or commit to a professioal career might have a big impact on those close to you:
- Because to make your business a success you are going to have to be selfish, at least for the first couple of years, and devote the bulk and your energy, focus and drive to building up your venture. No matter how much you might wish you were superhuman, this is simply not the time to be renovating the house, or embarking on marathon-training. You are going to have to be fairly single-minded, and that can be hard for others around you.
- Because you may be investing family money into the project – re-mortgaging the family home to raise funds to support you and your family in the early years, for example. This is not only stressful in itself; it may also mean that money which had been available when you had a salaried job to spend on other family activities such as going on holiday or buying a new car is no longer there. It can be easy for a family to feel resentful if they are having to make sacrifices and do without things because you are following your dream.
- Because they are likely to see a lot less of you, as you stop working conventional 9 to 5 office hours and instead devote every waking hour to getting your business off the ground. Even when you are physically around, you are likely to have your mind constantly on the business and so may seem distracted or distant.
It is perhaps hardly surprising that so many entrepreneurs and professionals are on their second or even third marriages, as the stress of running a business or a successful career takes its toll on personal relationships. Don’t let that be you, here’s our best advice to help you balance your life.
Involve your family in your work
Involve your family in your career or business wherever possible; by giving them at minimum regular updates about what is happening. If they feel part of what you are doing and can share in your successes, there will instantly be less confrontation between your work and life and your family. What’s more, once your family are involved in what you do they can see it from the inside out and realise just what commitment it requires from you to make it a success, they are more likely to feel less alienated and happier and more able to support you. The degree to which you involve your family depends on your career, business and them, so take baby steps and figure out what works (involving your family too much in some circumstances can do more harm than good).
Spend time with your family
The biggest barrier to harmony at home is likely to be time, or rather the lack of time you are spending with them. So set aside pre-arranged chunks of time to spend with your family – Friday night dinner, for example, or Sunday lunchtimes. And when you are with them, be there 100% for them instead of having half your mind on work matters. Don’t try to surreptitiously check your email when you think no-one is looking, because they will quickly cotton on to what you are doing and you will just infuriate everyone – including yourself, as you won’t be able to concentrate properly anyway.
Let them see the benefits and reap the rewards of what you are doing. When you have had a good month, take them out for a treat, or buy something nice for the house. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, it just has to demonstrate that you appreciate the sacrifices they are also making.
Have a separate space for work
If you run your business or regularly work from home, then designate a particular part of it as your office. And be rigorous about sticking to this, otherwise, your work will gradually encroach on other areas of the house and infuriate everyone.
Don’t make unnecessary excuses
Be aware the seductive nature of being an entrepreneur – it can be all too easy to use working on the business as an excuse for not taking part in family activities because you feel more in control at work than when you are with your family. Be on your guard.
Hire your family (if you run a business)
Vicki Snow has ensured that her mother Christine always feels comfortable about her running a business by giving her a job in it. Christine now works two days a week in Vicki’s fashion public relations business, Snow PR, looking after the admin side. The business, which is based in London’s West End, employs ten people. Vicki says the biggest advantage of employing her mother has been knowing that she can totally trust and rely on her: “It has been hugely supportive having her here … I love the fact that Mum is part of what I am doing.” She was initially unsure about how her staff would react to her mother being there, but in the event, she need not have worried. She says: “All the girls love her. When they need help, they run to Mum”. Her mother is happy with the arrangement too. “I love the industry, and the atmosphere in the office is fantastic.