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How to find and master work-life balance as an entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur can be especially taxing on your personal relationships. [iStockphoto]

Entrepreneurship is a demanding business, especially during the founding stages. You’ll find yourself donning different hats when it comes to the growing business. You’ll be the CEO, the marketing manager, the accountant, and even the cleaner.

While running your own business and watching it grow can be immensely satisfying, it comes with its own share of challenges and sacrifices.

Being an entrepreneur can be especially taxing on your personal relationships.

Working long hours and being hyper-focused on your business can be difficult to balance with the kind of presence it takes to maintain healthy relationships. Not to mention that you’ll barely have time to relax and focus on self-care.

That said, finding and maintaining a healthy work-life balance is important for your entrepreneurial journey. Entrepreneurship is replete with highs and lows that people in stable employment may not experience.

You need a strong support system to keep you motivated to achieve your goals. Contrary to what many assume, working longer doesn’t make you more productive.

The most successful entrepreneurs in the world prioritise self-care, rest, and getting adequate sleep. Mounting evidence from scientific studies suggests that a good night’s sleep boosts productivity.

A healthy work-life balance is something that every entrepreneur must define for themselves – depending on the demands of their business and personal life. What is meaningful to one entrepreneur might not be as meaningful to another.

With that in mind, let’s explore tips to help you establish and maintain a healthy work-life balance while running a demanding business.

Focus on finding equilibrium

A common misconception is that work-life balance means having a 50/50 balance between the time you spend working and the time you spend on your personal life. As an entrepreneur, the term “work-life” balance starts to lose meaning.

You’ll receive work-related phone calls and emails that require immediate response even during your “free” time. And you’ll often be called away from family events to attend to urgent business matters.

Similarly, personal life will come up during work hours. For instance, you might have to attend your child’s school meeting or take them to the doctor.

It’s practically impossible to have a 50/50 work-life balance unless your business is just a hobby. Instead of focusing on equal balance, aim at finding a healthy equilibrium.

Accept that there are days that you’ll have to put in more hours at work while there are days you might have more wiggle room for your personal life.

Instead of compartmentalising your life into different segments, aim at having a harmonious blend. View your work and personal life as essential that come together to form a whole.

Remember to be intentional and realistic with your personal life as you are with your business. For instance, you can schedule lunch with a friend, quality time with your partner, and a spa massage – just like you would with business appointments.

Master the art of delegation

Many entrepreneurs want to be hands-on with the different elements of their business. However, that approach can rapidly wear you down and lead to poor work-life balance.

Delegation is a skill that every entrepreneur must master. Accept that there is no truly successful business that is run by an individual. It takes having a team you can trust to achieve business success.

Get comfortable handing over the reins to others. Although training someone else to take up a task can be a daunting task, the initial investment is worth it. It will free you up for more crucial entrepreneurial tasks and attend to the demands of your personal life.

Make the effort to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each member of your team. This will guide you on which tasks to delegate and to whom. For instance, you can delegate urgent tasks to employees who have a faster turnaround. For slower employees, delegate important but non-urgent tasks.

Make sure you give employees clear instructions when delegating tasks. Provide the resources employees need to complete the tasks you’ve delegated – whether in terms of funds, people, equipment, software, or information.

Stay in the loop to ensure that the task is done properly and on time. After a task is completed, give the employee feedback on their performance and ask them what you could have done to better support them.

Stop multitasking

Many entrepreneurs pride themselves on their multi-tasking skills. However, several scientific studies have found that multitasking is not something that anyone is truly good at. Humans aren’t good at multitasking doing too many things simultaneously make us less productive.

According to one study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, when obliged to move to other tasks, pupils took 40 per cent longer to finish challenging math problems.

Your brain must essentially reboot as you move from one job to another.

This implies that you have to exert more mental effort to catch up on one task. Then, just as you start to give your complete attention to the task at hand, you are sidetracked by yet another.

If you want to improve your work-life balance, you must start by focusing on tasks while at work. You’ll take less time to complete your tasks, which will free you up for a more personal time.

 Block out time slots for important tasks – resisting the urge to take calls that aren’t urgent or get distracted by less important tasks.

According to Florida State University research, 90 minutes is the ideal amount of time to work on a project.

Plan your workday into 90-minute segments, particularly for lengthy assignments. You can take a break after 90 minutes before moving on to another assignment.