As a small-business owner, you have many responsibilities to juggle. From managing a team of employees to spreading the word about your company, the many tasks you take on can be overwhelming. While being a small-business owner has its perks, managing a company alone takes up most of your valuable time. It almost feels like you’re always working, and it can be challenging to hold off on responding to those emails until the next day.
This is where you must incorporate work-life balance. Yet, what is the meaning of work-life balance, and how do you know when the lines between work and home life blur?
What Is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is an equal relationship between work and your personal life. It’s an act people take to ensure neither side of their life overshadows the other. As a small-business owner, this balance may seem like an impossible task, given the demands and pressures that come with entrepreneurship. However, it’s a necessity for maintaining your mental and emotional well-being.
This could look like spending a full workday, then coming home to spend time with friends and family that lift you up. Or, it could be to decompress by reading or picking up a new hobby. Either way, work-life balance involves several characteristics:
- Establishing boundaries: This means designating specific times for work and ensuring those work hours don’t interfere with your personal time.
- Time management: This involves delegating when possible and setting realistic goals so work isn’t continuously spilling into your off-hours.
- Stress management: Managing your stress requires you to recognize the pressures of business ownership and when they become too heavy. That way, you can find methods to help you relax and alleviate the burden.
- Flexibility: Structure is essential in your daily life. However, it’s also necessary you have the ability to adjust and adapt to prevent sacrificing your work or home life.
Why Does Work-Life Balance Matter?
Creating a harmonious balance between work and life is essential because it contributes to living happily and healthily. When your life is disproportionate, and it weighs more towards work, you sacrifice your mental and emotional well-being. From there, you eventually experience burnout. This is a prolonged state of physical and emotional exhaustion, which can harm your health. On top of that, it can also affect business productivity because of the simplest mistakes and the need for more creativity.
On the other hand, fulfilling your personal needs can be rejuvenating. Time spent pursuing new hobbies and simply resting offers fresh perspectives and renewed energy. When you make time for yourself, your work becomes more effective. As a result, you eventually boost your bottom line.
Furthermore, constant overwork leads to chronic stress. Stress places you in flight or fight mode, and being in this state consistently leads to various health issues, including:
- Anxiety and depression
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Trouble concentrating
That’s why maintaining an equal work-life balance is crucial. It ensures you have the time and space to prioritize self-care and reap all the health benefits.
Signs You Are Experiencing an Unbalanced Work-Life
How do you know if your work-life is unbalanced? There are signs, and recognizing them can be the first step toward rectifying the situation. Often, these signs manifest without notice. They slowly creep into your daily routine until they become the new norm. Here are some indicators your scales may be tipping unfavorably towards work:
- Constant fatigue: If you’re always feeling drained, even after a good night’s sleep, it’s a clear sign that work may be taking up too much of your energy, leaving little room for personal time.
- Decreased productivity: Spending more time working doesn’t always mean you’re getting more work done. If tasks that once seemed routine now feel overwhelming, it may be due to an imbalance.
- Persistent stress or anxiety: Constant worry about work, even during off-hours, or an inability to “switch off” from work indicates a blurring of boundaries.
- Mood fluctuations: Irritability, mood swings or feelings of sadness and detachment can stem from an overwhelming workload or lack of personal downtime.
- Lack of motivation: The once fiery passion you had for your business is suddenly dwindling. This could be because an unbalanced life is dampening your drive.
How To Improve Work-Life Balance
If you find yourself struggling to keep work and life in equilibrium, here are some tips to help you improve it.
1. Evaluate the Various Parts of Your Life
Start by looking at each component of your life, such as family, work, personal time and health. Analyze how each of them intersect and influence one another. Grab a journal and jot down your feelings. That way, you can identify the areas of your life that need the most help. Once you do this, you can decide where to set boundaries and prioritize.
2. Know Your Priorities
Know what truly matters to you. Whether it’s spending quality time with family or pursuing a hobby, clarity on your priorities allows you to allocate more time. Ask yourself what you’re doing enough of and what needs more attention. For instance, if you feel you are needing to spend more time for yourself, then ensure you list that as a priority.
3. Establish Boundaries
It’s essential to draw clear lines between work and personal time. This may mean setting specific hours when you’re unavailable for personal calls. Or, it could be that you need to designate a workspace separate from your living area. This may be crucial if you run your business from home, as 87% of people work at least three days from home per week.
Plus, one of the many challenges of working at home involves drawing a line between work and home life. Therefore, setting these boundaries will help you safeguard your personal time and ensure work doesn’t seep into moments of relaxation.
4. Talk to a Therapist
Seeking professional help can be invaluable. A therapist can offer insights, coping strategies and different perspectives on managing stress. If you’re overwhelmed or need guidance, a therapist can work with you. They can provide the necessary tools to juggle work and personal life.
5. Decompress Doing What You Love
Dedicate time to activities that light you up. Whether you de-stress through exercise or listening to music, immersing yourself in what you love can be therapeutic. While this helps you unwind from work-related stress, it also reconnects you with your inner self. This enables you to rejuvenate yourself for the challenges ahead.
Create and Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
As a small-business owner, the demands are far and wide, but the rewards of a well-balanced life are profound. Prioritize the aspects of your life that need more attention and set boundaries. Ensure you do what makes you happy so that you can reconnect with yourself again. Doing so is essential for your health, business and your own personal fulfillment.
About The Author
Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.