Work Life Balance. That’s a scary phrase right there. I’ve been a self-employed business owner for ten years now and it has taken me until now to establish what I’d call “balance”. Balance between my work and life. There was a time, or rather one-long period where the distinction between the two was incredibly murky. On the one hand, I understand and gain comfort from the fact that there is no substitute for hard work. Yet, at the same time, it is important to give yourself breaks so as not to burnout prematurely. Don’t feel guilty if it doesn’t come easy to you. I am ten years into my entrepreneurial journey and it is only now that I feel confident in saying that I have mastered (to the best of my ability), a reasonable work life balance! Here are my thoughts on what I feel helps and hinders a healthy work life balance…
There is No Compensation for Hard Work
I think this is a Walt Disney quote. If it is, this just reiterates the truth in this quote. Who else better understood the true meaning of determination and hard work than the man who gave childhood a whole new meaning!? From the moment I started working for myself, I decided that I never wanted to be in full-time employment ever again! Being able to make my own decisions and being responsible for my own income and success never gets dull! Neither does having the freedom to work on my own schedule. If you’re reading this because you’re struggling more with the “work” part and a lack of motivation, remember that unless you start something, you’ll never see progress!
Working on Your Own Schedule
I love working on my own schedule. It means that I can take time out during the week so that I can go to events, catch up with friends and do fun things. I will either make the time up somehow or I will ensure that I am in front with work before taking time off. Sometimes some of the projects I take on require an early start or late finish. On these occasions I will sometimes have a break during the day to recharge my batteries. It’s important to allow yourself some well deserved “me time”. I might decide to take a walk, go to the beach, read a book, or catch up with a TV series. Watching TV in the middle of the day feels really self-indulgent, which actually helps me to work better.
Don’t Feel Guilty for Somebody Else’s Insecurities
Yes, this can affect a healthy work life balance too! When you run your own business and possess the freedom to work when and where you choose, personal relationships can come under strain. Unfortunately not everyone is prepared to listen when you tell them how you worked all weekend to allow yourself a couple of hours or a full-day off during the week while they’re at work. This unnecessary guilt will not do you any favours! If you just so happen to make your work life look easy to those around you then well done to you! Because behind every savvy purchase or mid-week day off, is a great deal of hard work that nobody gets to see.
I’ve met so many amazing people since starting a business but I’ve also had to let others go. This seems to be a story I hear often among business owners. Don’t ever be afraid of dreaming big, earning a generous income or taking time off at an unconventional time, just because you don’t want to make people feel bad. Obviously there are ways that you can be tactful about certain matters. But don’t let your life suffer just to ease the conscience of somebody who refuses to put in any effort to improve their own life. If you need a day off in the middle of the week, take it. If a healthy new lifestyle would benefit your productivity levels and concentration – try it! If you feel like treating yourself to something luxurious at the end of the month, it doesn’t mean “you’ve changed”, it means you’ve bettered your life to be able to reward yourself occasionally.
Waking Up and Going to Bed On the Same Day…What a Treat!
When I really get stuck into my work, I am like a woman possessed! As an eccentric Aquarian I have a habit of becoming strongly addicted to everything in which I’m interested! There have also been times when I have been so busy with work that I have had to use every second of my waking day productively. There have been a fair few occasions when I have woken up in the morning and not finished work or gone to sleep on the same day, carrying through to the early hours of the morning! I remember at the end of one very busy week thinking what a luxury it was to wake up and go to bed on the same day! It’s not a problem to work late at night, as long as you get plenty of rest and sleep to compensate.
Arianna Huffington insists that the key to business success and high productivity levels is getting at least 8 hours sleep a night. Her books: “The Sleep Revolution” and “Thrive” go into detail about why this is so important. Arianna makes it clear in her book that bragging about having little sleep isn’t impressive. In fact, it was through exhaustion and a gruesome incident that the Huffington Post founder decided to re-think her lifestyle habits! Both books are really insightful!
Trying to “Fit it All in”
More often than not, working from home probably means that your job is quite sedentary. So along with the pressures of running your own business, you probably feel obliged to fit in time to exercise, eat healthily, maintain an active social life, network with fellow business owners, keep a happy home life, take some downtime, continue to learn something new every day, and run a household! Wow, that’s quite a list! But yet, it’s a long list of time-consuming tasks with which most of us feel pressured to contend. You don’t have to do it all. I’ve come to learn that it is better to do one thing well rather than do a dozen things poorly. For a number of years I used to juggle lengthy daily exercise sessions with everything else in my life. These days (as of this year) I am very much following the motto: “I do what I like. I don’t do what I don’t like.” I no longer put myself under pressure to exercise when I don’t want to. If walking is the only thing I feel like doing then that is what I will do. Or I might take a more manual approach when doing the housework. In terms of physical activity, aim for consistency and realistic!
The Digital Detox
Ask anybody who knows me or spend 30 minutes with me and you will see how out of control my messages are! Social media notifications, social media messages, emails, instant messages, the occasional text message, etc. Last year, during summer 2017 I felt like I just had to take a break from social media! I took a week off and towards the end I was eager to return. I did miss being online but the break did me the world of good. It’s important that I emphasise here how much my business relies on the internet. Basically, the internet and social media is my entire livelihood! I don’t really use social media for personal use but it is vital for my business. But then again, I am the face of my brand so I pour a lot of my personality and self into my online content. Now that I’ve taken a digital detox and still have a business, I wouldn’t be afraid of doing it again. To be honest though, I’ve only ever once felt the need for a complete digital detox. Personally I think that if you put out honest content, you’re less likely to feel the need to take a break from your life online!
Finally and Most Importantly: “Doing More of What I Like”
I could clutter my hectic to-do list with more tasks that I don’t want to complete, but why? Yes, there are many unattractive tasks that will take me closer to my goals, but there are also many exciting tasks that will do the same! I’m at that point now where I try not to do anything that I don’t want to do. When there’s the option to do something more interesting and potentially as beneficial, why waste my time on something dull and tedious? If an idea doesn’t excite me, I extinguish it there and then. More often than not, it is possible to turn the most mundane of tasks into something more enjoyable with just a little imagination!
I’d love to know…do you have any tips on managing a successful work life balance?
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