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Work-Life Balance: Why It’s Important And 7 Tips To Achieve It 2024

work-life-balance:-why-it’s-important-and-7-tips-to-achieve-it-in-2023

A healthy work-life balance is essential, whether you run your business full-time or work 9-to-5 and run your business on the side.

With it, you can keep motivated and keep burnout at bay.

The beauty of being an entrepreneur is being able to design your schedule. You can work when you’re most productive, go to the gym in the middle of the day, and choose your work hours.

Finding harmony between work and play is critical to your success in business and personal life. That’s why creating a better work-life balance can reduce stress and improve mental health.

What is work-life balance?

Work-life balance is the amount of time you spend working on your business or at your job versus the amount of time you spend not working, such as enjoying time with your family, participating in your hobbies, resting, traveling, and generally being away from your desk.

The more time you spend working on your business, the less time you have to do other life activities, which can lead to resentment and, ultimately, burnout.

Why work-life balance is important

Fifty-one percent of small-business owners say balancing their professional and personal lives has been essential to their success. Taking time off, doing things they love, and stepping away from the wormhole of business activities can bring a fresh perspective and added health benefits. Entrepreneurs are increasingly aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between work and life: One study shows that almost 60% of small-business owners take regular vacations.

Productivity levels shoot up, too. People with a healthy work-life balance are 21% more productive than people with a poor work-life balance because they can return to their jobs with an open and well-rested mind.

The effects of a poor work-life balance

  • Always thinking about work. When your business is constantly on your mind, you push out any room for other responsibilities like family, friends, fun, and home life.
  • Poor productivity at work. Productivity levels plummet in people struggling to juggle work and personal life. Taking even a short time away can help you feel refreshed and motivated.
  • Struggling to take time off when needed. It can sometimes feel like you don’t have the time to take time off, but failing to give yourself a break when required can negatively impact your health and business.
  • Everything outside of work seems unimportant. When the balance between your personal and professional life is off-kilter, everything work-related becomes a vast, insurmountable hill, with everything else paling in comparison.
  • Spending more money on outsourcing personal tasks. The costs of the cleaner, personal assistant, and after-school nanny you hired so you can spend more time on your business will eventually rack up.

These detrimental effects aren’t just limited to your health and productivity—the stress and symptoms accompanying a poor work-life balance can also affect your relationships with your spouse, family, kids, and colleagues.

If you’re not at your best, your business can’t operate at its optimum, and if you work a 9-to-5 job while building your online business, your performance there can also take a hit. There's a lot at stake.

How to find work-life balance: 7 tips

Creating a healthier work-life balance comes down to recognizing too much, establishing boundaries for work, and setting aside quality time for non-business activities. Here are seven tactics you can use straight away.

  1. Organize your work week
  2. Break down your tasks into manageable chunks
  3. Embrace technology
  4. Designate working hours
  5. Take time off
  6. Exercise and practice mindfulness
  7. Think output, not input

1. Organize your work week 

One of the best ways to get more done in the time you have (so you can have more time for life) is to be organized and prepare each week with a list of tasks and activities that need to be done. Could you take some time at the start of your work week to plan out the next five days? Just 15 to 30 minutes of planning can help significantly increase productivity.

“I plan the week on Sunday nights. I add as little as possible to my to-do list,” says ecommerce professional Marie Stuart Noel. “As an entrepreneur, my time feels scarce all the time. So I think in terms of what must I be present for and what I do not have to be physically present for.”

Some tasks Marie needs to be present for include personal appointments, networking events, and weekly meetings. She doesn’t have to be present for food shopping, running errands, and doing household chores that can be outsourced to someone else. This is an excellent time to prioritize your most important tasks and schedule time away from your desk, including exercise classes, social events, and hobbies.

2. Break down your tasks into manageable chunks 

If a task feels enormous and overwhelming, break it into smaller chunks. This technique has been dubbed “micro productivity” by the task management tool Trello and is a great way to add flexibility to your schedule. Start by identifying the most significant tasks on your plate and turn them into a series of smaller tasks—for example, if you’re creating a new website for your ecommerce store, you might turn that into several smaller jobs, including:

  • Research website hosts
  • Write the copy for the homepage
  • Hire a designer to create graphics
  • Upload products

This is a fundamental plan, but you can see how the mammoth task of “creating an entire website” suddenly becomes four more minor activities that don’t seem as overwhelming. This also means you can spread each little activity throughout your schedule so you don’t end up working for hours back-to-back trying to build an entire ecommerce website in one sitting.

3. Embrace technology

It can sometimes feel like technology is against us and can deplete our productivity levels if we’re constantly tuning in to every ping and new message. However, there are some fabulous tools out there that can help you plan and focus better, as well as help you actively balance your work and home life.

Here are some tools you might find helpful:

“From the moment I wake up, I’m already mapping out what needs to get done in order of importance and urgency. That way, when something unexpected pops up during the day, it doesn’t end up derailing my entire plan.” —Entrepreneur Aaron Jerez

4. Designate working hours 

It’s tempting to reply to every new email and social media notification as soon as it arrives.

However, setting boundaries around work hours can be critical to your sanity and success. Consider setting limits for each work day and select one day of the week that you do no work.

Within those workday boundaries, you can assign dedicated times for checking your email or set aside half an hour to go through your social media notifications at the end of the day. It helps if your team and anyone needing to get hold of you know your dedicated working hours and when they will likely get your reply. An easy way to do this is to include your response times in your email signature.

Entrepreneur Aaron Jerez suggests prioritizing tasks, too: “From the moment I wake up, I’m already mapping out what needs to get done in order of importance and urgency. That way, when something unexpected pops up during the day, it doesn’t end up derailing my entire plan,” he says. “I also have a set time each day when I shut off all distractions, like social media and emails, so that I can focus on one task uninterrupted.”

“I find vacations the best time to make big business decisions—the ones that can steer a business journey in new and game-changing directions.” —Entrepreneur Wendy Maynard

5. Take time off 

Taking time away from your business and work gives you a fresh perspective when you return—you never know, you might come up with an obvious solution to that problem that’s been worrying you for weeks.

Successful entrepreneurs bake time off into their hectic schedules as a matter of importance. One report says the magic number is at least four weeks of vacation time a year.

For many, taking time off gets the creative juices flowing and leads to important decisions. “I find vacations the best time to make big business decisions—the ones that can steer a business journey in new and game-changing directions,” says entrepreneur Wendy Maynard.

But we’re not just talking about taking vacations here. Time off can also mean leaving your phone at home while you walk the dog or putting your laptop in a drawer while you spend the holidays with your family.

For Tory Jon, the founder of CamperFAQs, choosing to spend downtime more intentionally was a game-changer. “I spent my off-time more deliberately, focusing on time outdoors with family and off screens. Once that felt solid, I started to find more opportunities to give space to outdoor pursuits,” Tory says.

“The idea of being deliberate with your free time is a game-changer, making your free time more meaningful and engaging instead of passive and numbing. For me, this was the outdoors, but for other entrepreneurs, this could be the arts, sports, cooking—anything that energizes and brings you joy.”

6. Exercise and practice mindfulness

Work-life balance isn’t just about finding the time to hang out with friends and family around your working patterns. It’s also about staying healthy and looking after your body with regular exercise. This might be a simple walk around the block before you start work, or you might schedule an hour at the gym at lunchtime every day.

You can also bring mindfulness into your daily practice, which can work in two ways:

  1. It improves focus and concentration to make you more efficient at work.
  2. It deepens compassion and connection to help you fully engage in personal time.

7. Think output, not input 

The Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule, can be applied to help you find work-life balance. Look at all business activities and focus on the ones that give you the most significant results while removing those with little impact.

For example, is your business on multiple social networks, and do you spend significant time on social media? Scale back. Choose one or two channels sending you the most customers and ignore the rest.

Work-life balance: a success enabler

It always feels like there's more to do and not enough time. That's entrepreneurship. Most entrepreneurs sometimes work too much, too long, and too hard, burning themselves out. While the hustle is important, especially in the early stages of a new business, what’s important is to recognize when productivity, health, and relationships with those around you suffer.

When you can enjoyably balance your work and life, you can dramatically increase your productivity levels and work on your business while being the best version of yourself. For many entrepreneurs, this balance is the key to success.

Use simple methods outlined in this post to stay productive, happy, and healthy to keep building your business and not burn out.

Work-life balance FAQ

What causes poor work-life balance?

Poor work-life balance results from spending too much time and energy at work, so you don’t have enough left to enjoy your hobbies, family, and other personal activities. The balance can shift for many reasons, including lousy time management, not taking time off, and failing to look after your health with regular exercise.

How many hours should I work to maintain a good work-life balance?

There is no gold star standard of how many hours you should work a week, but past scientific research shows our productivity levels start to drop after six hours a day. To keep a good work-life balance, make sure you spend as much time on hobbies and personal commitments as at work.

What are the seven steps to achieve work-life balance?

1. Organize your working week.
2. Break big tasks down into smaller chunks.
3. Embrace technology and automation.
4. Designate working hours and set boundaries.
5. Take time off.
6. Exercise and practice mindfulness.
7. Think output, not input.

 

This originally appeared on Shopify and is available here to cast a wider net of discovery.
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