What Strategies Help You Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance?

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    Small Biz Leader

    What Strategies Help You Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance?

    Striking the perfect work-life balance is a challenge that many small business owners face. We've gathered insights from Entrepreneurs, Owners, and CEOs to share their effective strategies. From setting strict boundaries to making decisions from self-awareness, discover the varied approaches that have transformed their professional and personal lives.

    • Set and Adhere to Strict Boundaries
    • Think Beyond the Linear Workday
    • Ditch the Guilt
    • Leverage Technology
    • Schedule Personal Activities Consciously
    • Designate Specific Work Hours
    • Check In with Yourself Throughout the Day
    • Seek Out New Experiences
    • Utilize Automation Tools
    • Outsource and Time-Block
    • Compartmentalize Work and Home Life
    • Start with Self-Awareness

    Set and Adhere to Strict Boundaries

    As a small-business owner, managing work-life balance is a continuous process that requires intention and strategy. One effective method I've implemented is setting strict boundaries for work hours and sticking to them as religiously as possible. By designating time slots for work and personal life, I've found that I am more focused and productive during working hours because I know there's a set time to relax and recharge later. This separation helps prevent burnout and keeps me motivated.

    The impact on productivity has been significant. With clear boundaries, I am able to give my full attention to the task at hand, whether that's a client's SEO strategy or spending quality time with family. This focused approach has led to more innovative marketing strategies and a more positive work environment, as both my team and I feel more balanced and less stressed. It's a reminder that productivity isn't just about the quantity of hours worked, but the quality of those hours.

    Prioritizing work-life balance has not only improved my personal well-being but has also set a healthy example for my team, contributing to the overall success of Double Plus Marketing Agency.

    Joshua Bartlett
    Joshua BartlettOwner, Double Plus Marketing

    Think Beyond the Linear Workday

    Avoid the linear workday like the plague. When I started my writing business, I maintained the same schedule I had left at my old desk job. Then I remembered all the reasons why I left that job—I wanted more flexibility, freedom, time with family, and to enjoy my work. But working the same 9-to-5 didn't allow me to take advantage of these benefits. So I tried something different.

    After dropping the kids off at school, I go to the park to walk before starting my workday. I'll take a lunch break, work in my car while waiting for school to end, and be available to my kids in the afternoon. I'll work a couple of hours in the evening when they go to bed so I can complete a full day's work.

    Finding pockets of time for work allows me to be available to my family when they need me while also ensuring the work gets done. I can also enjoy flexibility throughout the day in ways I couldn't with a linear schedule. My schedule is one of convenience rather than tradition, and it helps me embrace some of the reasons why I started working for myself.

    Alli Hill
    Alli HillFounder and Director, Fleurish Freelance

    Ditch the Guilt

    Ditch the guilt! The biggest mistake I've made as a small-business owner is feeling guilty about taking time off when I'm on top of work, which is crazy because there is always something around the corner, and other days I put in more than my fair share of hours!

    As a small-business owner, you will probably be on call pretty much 24/7. You are likely to be functioning as managing director, finance lead, HR, and IT, among other things, and therefore, even when on holiday, you will be the first port of call for any problems. The key to establishing a work-life balance is to take advantage of the flexibility that being in control of the business affords you. If you're able to work longer hours one day so that you can spend time with family another, do it. If you have a sports club you want to go to, go, and finish off your work later. And don't feel bad about enjoying free time on quieter days, even if it's during hours that you would normally be working.

    Kim Allcott
    Kim AllcottPartner, Allcott Associates LLP

    Leverage Technology

    Effectively managing work-life balance as a small-business owner has been an ongoing journey of trial and error, but implementing a few key practices has had a tremendously positive impact on both my productivity and overall well-being.

    The first core strategy is zealously guarding my schedule and establishing firm boundaries. I proactively block out family time, exercise, hobbies, and rest as immovable obligations—just like important meetings. This ensures I have non-negotiable rejuvenation periods hardwired into each week to prevent burnout.

    Secondly, I leverage technology like chatbots and task automation to reduce reactive busywork that used to hijack my days. Setting up systems to handle routine tasks has removed many needless distractions and context shifts. This frees up concentration for higher-leverage deliverables. I've also gotten serious about outsourcing and delegating responsibilities to my team's strengths.

    Committing to these strategies hasn't just enhanced my focus and output when working, though. More importantly, I arrive at tasks fully recharged rather than running on fumes. I'm more present with my family, hobbies provide rejuvenating breaks, and boundaries prevent insidious burnout. Protecting work-life harmony is both an ethical and pragmatic imperative for sustainable productivity.

    Brian Meiggs
    Brian MeiggsFounder, My Millennial Guide

    Schedule Personal Activities Consciously

    As a business owner, my daily life revolves around running my projects and companies: from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep, my head tends to think about my businesses constantly.

    However, the one thing that has helped me maintain a better work-life balance and draw a clearer line is a conscious effort to schedule personal life activities. This means that every day, I schedule time slots where I focus on my personal life: for example, after waking up, my wife and I go to the gym. It's something we've just scheduled and arranged for every morning, instead of sitting behind the computer to work. In the back of my mind, I know there's always something I could be doing for the business, but I knowingly take these time slots to maintain a healthy balance in my life.

    I also make sure to take at least one day each week where I only focus on my family and enjoy time away from the computer. These moments rejuvenate my thoughts and provide me even more energy to keep going with my business. As they say, your best ideas come when you don't have to push and focus so hard. Whenever I'm just spending time with my family, I tend to get the best ideas. It just goes to show that if you schedule some time away from work consciously, you're doing your business a huge favor.

    Marcus Keller
    Marcus KellerEntrepreneur and investor, Laenusoov.ee

    Designate Specific Work Hours

    Many small-business owners, including myself, have found success in managing work-life balance by setting clear boundaries and prioritizing time management.

    One effective strategy is to designate specific work hours and ensure that personal time is scheduled and respected, much like any business appointment.

    If you do this consistently, it not only helps in maintaining mental health and personal relationships but also will improve your productivity during work hours by preventing burnout.

    It's important to take care of yourself and the business too!

    Kim Maine
    Kim MaineChief Numbler, Numble Bookkeeping Services

    Check In with Yourself Throughout the Day

    I continue to focus on being balanced because there is a correlation between balance and the quality of my work. I notice that when I am out of balance, either my work or my personal well-being suffers. Mindfulness has helped me to maintain my balance more often. I check in with myself frequently throughout the day so that I have ample time for everything that I need to do, such as exercise, work, recovery, etc. When I stick to my schedule and value each day holistically, then I am able to be even more productive than when I was only focused on work or only focused on my personal life. I find that balance provides a boost of energy that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Benjamin Farber
    Benjamin FarberPresident, Bristol Associates, Inc.

    Seek Out New Experiences

    Like many small-business owners, I initially found it challenging to strike a balance between work and personal life. My business was my top priority, often at the expense of self-care. However, I soon realized that for my business to thrive, I needed to create a work-life balance. That led me to incorporate daily morning meditation and sessions of yoga, Muay Thai boxing, and interval training. These activities energize me and enhance my focus, making my work hours more productive.

    Moreover, I actively seek out new experiences and partake in exhilarating activities like kiteboarding and travel adventures, often with my team. These shared adventures have not only strengthened our bonds but also significantly boosted our productivity and enjoyment in the workplace. It's a testament to the fact that work-life balance isn't just about personal productivity but also about fostering a cohesive and successful team.

    Shane Hurley
    Shane HurleyCEO, RedFynn Technologies

    Utilize Automation Tools

    Maintaining a sense of work-life balance has been critical to my personal health as well as the productivity of my business. I found it helpful to have very specific work hours and communication boundaries. I scheduled specific check-in windows for emails and phone calls and tried to confine them to normal business hours.

    Also, I utilized automation tools for regular tasks such as billing, customer inquiries, and social media, which in turn made more time for more meaningful business activities and leisure time. I also resolved to involve others in more tasks and let go of the belief that only I could do the job right, which had allowed things to spin out of control.

    This was also evident in our productivity: when we had defined boundaries and systems for efficiency, I could be fully on during work hours and fully off afterward for recovery. This meant that I’d never be burned out, would have more energy, and would remain creative and focused, all of which are integral to my business growth. Focusing on work-life balance can help your personal health, but can also improve the mood of your office and contribute to more productivity from your entire team.

    Mark McShane
    Mark McShaneFounder, Mental Health First Aid Course

    Outsource and Time-Block

    Managing a work-life balance can be challenging for a small-business owner working from home, but outsourcing and time-blocking have made all the difference for me. Since outsourcing specific business tasks, like calendar and email management, I have become more productive with everything else in my business and have had more time for myself. Having help allows me to take time off whenever possible and work at my convenience because I don't feel tied to my email. With time-blocking, I only allow meetings on certain days, which has given me more flexibility to do personal things or catch up on client work during my non-meeting days. These two shifts have also made it easier for me to stick to my rule that once I'm done working for the day, I'm done, and it's time to spend time with my family.

    Lauren PernaCEO and Head Writer, Lauren Perna Communications

    Compartmentalize Work and Home Life

    I've adopted a personal principle of compartmentalization: work stays separate from home life. Post-work hours are reserved for family and relaxation. While I value our business's success, I also prioritize my peace of mind. Spending quality time with my family, particularly my kids, upon arriving home helps me decompress and stay energized. This deliberate balance between work and family time not only enhances my productivity but also contributes to the overall success of our business.

    Ali Ashraf
    Ali AshrafCMO, Shopify Force

    Start with Self-Awareness

    The first step is awareness. The fact is, most of us entrepreneurs are workaholics, partly out of necessity, but mostly because we actually like working. I started and built up my own business for over 20 years before being acquired by a larger company, so I have lived and breathed small business. Self-awareness comes when we admit that we actually like working and choose it over other activities. So, for more family balance, as an example, maybe we make a conscious decision to leave the office on Friday evening to go home for dinner, versus staying to get that proposal out. Submitting the proposal on Monday or Saturday morning, versus Friday night, is not going to make or break the deal. Once I started making an effort to have more balance and made decisions accordingly, I started to see the benefits. This led to me choosing balance and understanding what tasks needed to be done at work now, and what tasks could wait until the next day.

    Mark Thibodeau
    Mark ThibodeauVice President Automotive, Americas, Transearch, International