How Small Business Owners Can Achieve Work-Life Balance

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Summer has finally arrived. This is the time for soaking up the sun, bringing your kids to the beach and relaxing — or is it? As a small business owner, your reality may differ. You may have just entered your peak season and aren’t sure when you’ll even get the chance for a break. Staying busy can even be a source of pride for many owners, but sooner or later that non-stop work will lead to burn-out. You can stay ahead of that shut-down by striving toward work-life balance and taking time off to relax with your family or friends.

Granting yourself a break also has benefits on top of closer personal relationships — it can also make you a better business owner. This Inc. article explains how taking time off improves your creativity, and your ability to focus and generate ideas. When you relax and daydream or let your mind wander, you enhance your brain’s ability to solve problems. In contrast, not taking breaks can lead to creative mental blocks, increased stress and exhaustion.

Father prioritizing work-life balance

Schedule in Time to Recharge

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve heard that it’s healthy to take a break every once in a while, but when your to-do list is growing every day, how can you fit in the time? One way is to actually add “take a break” to that list; writing it down as something you need to accomplish can help you manage your time. Schedule in brief mental breaks throughout the day, such as taking a walk, playing with your kids or even just turning off your devices for a moment.

When you’re feeling strapped for time, you can also opt for quality — rather than quantity — time with loved ones. Instead of striving to pick up the kids from school every afternoon just to drop them at home and return to work, enlist a sitter if you have one on-hand to pick them up a few days a week. Then have your day to pick them up include a special activity where you can devote your attention to them fully.

When it comes to personal care, you don’t have to squeeze in friends, family, fitness, fun, business plus a good night’s rest all in one day. You can shift priorities by the day and aim to sprinkle these activities throughout your week or month.

Taking a few hours off weekly can also be refreshing, especially if you do something you enjoy like a hobby or spending time with family. Prioritize family activities by resolving to go to your child’s soccer match or schedule a date with your spouse. Spending quality time with your family not only nurtures these relationships but can give you a chance to recharge.

How to Prepare for a Break

Whether it’s a full vacation or just a weekend escape, taking a break can be a great way to let go of work and deepen bonds with your loved ones. Here are a few ways to prepare for that well-deserved sabbatical, however brief:

  • Add it to your financial forecast. Figuring out how much you can set aside in your budget for your vacation can make it more attainable.
  • Write a list of functions and duties that will need to be taken care of while you’re gone. If you have employees, divvy up these responsibilities to the individuals who can best handle them. For example, if it’s a sales-related task, have your salesperson handle it. If it’s billing-related, have your bookkeeper take over.
  • If you don’t have the right person in-house, you can hire a more experienced temp, such as a retiree or a stay-at-home parent, who has significant experience in your line of business and in the role you need to fill. Be resourceful. Use a temp agency or, better yet, tap into your network and ask others who might know a good fit.
  • If you’re still uncomfortable unplugging, limit the time you spend working to just an hour or two while on vacation, and structure your work around your vacation’s main activities.

If you find yourself choosing between a successful business and a healthy personal life, the good news is you can have both. But you will have to work purposefully to achieve that work-life balance. It will require effort, planning and a little letting go, but your loved ones — and your brain — will thank you for it.

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