Keeping a good work-life balance can be tricky in any situation. People need to earn an income, but it’s easy for you to focus so much on your work that the rest of your life gets pushed away. This balance is even more difficult to maintain when you run your business, whether you’ve just set it up or it’s well established.
However, this increased difficulty makes maintaining your work-life balance even more important. Here are the reasons why, and some tips to help you out.
The Dangers of Burnout
When your business gets going, it’s incredibly easy to get caught up in it, especially if you work from home. You end up spending most of your time either working on projects for clients/customers or doing administrative work for your business. If you work at home, this effect can be compounded by the fact that your office is always close by.
This can lead to your family and friends being neglected. Even if you can provide for your family materially, you simply don’t have the time or the energy to spend any meaningful time with them. Not only that, but you can end up neglecting yourself.
You don’t have time to eat proper meals, so you snack at your computer or skip them completely. You don’t have any time to relax, because sitting around and watching television isn’t as important as the next big project. You don’t even have time to sleep, because your deadlines are catching up with you.
Before you know it, you start to get stressed. You might notice that you get headaches all the time and you can’t sleep, even when you’re exhausted from the day’s work. You forget things and, even though you’re working as hard as ever, your productivity starts to suffer.
Soon, you find that you’re stressed and exhausted all the time. Perhaps you’re irritable and can’t function without your coffee. You feel out of control and, even worse, you get physically ill more often.
This is the progression of burnout. It can eventually drain the joy out of every aspect of your life, including your work and even your family life. It is possible to get burnout when you’re overwhelmed by other aspects of your life, such as caring for an ill family member, but it’s common among workers.
Eventually, burnout can result in a crash. Someone suffering from burnout can get so overwhelmed, exhausted, and physically unwell that they crash. It can become almost impossible to simply get out of bed in the morning, let alone run a business and spend time with your family. It also won’t go away on its own and can lead to severe physical and psychological illnesses, if ignored.
The best way to deal with burnout is to prevent it. Yes, you might have a busy day or even week where you have to work longer hours to get a project done, but if every day or week is that busy, you may have a problem with balance. Look back at the progression of burnout and consider whether any of those habits strike a chord with you.
If you don’t, then good for you. In any case, the following tips will help you to avoid getting so unbalanced. They can also help you to hopefully claw back some balance if you need to.
Look After Your Health
One of the best ways to stop stress from taking over your life is to look after your physical health. That means that you need to carve out time from your work schedule to look after yourself.
Taking time out from work is vital to maintain a good work-life balance in general, but being physically healthy is an especially good start.
Start with your sleep habits. Set a cut-off time for your work and stick to it. Ideally, you should stop work at least a couple of hours before you go to sleep so that you can properly relax. Don’t drink caffeine before bed either. Some people even find that a smartphone ban can help them to sleep instead of browsing their phones.
You should also keep up a regular exercise routine. For example, many people find that even a brief workout first thing in the morning can invigorate them for the day. Exercise isn’t just physically healthy, but it can give you an emotional boost as well.
Finally, eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. Ideally, you should take proper breaks to eat, even if it’s just fifteen minutes away from the desk. If you’re worried about the time it takes to put the meal together, consider meal planning on the weekend and setting up some quick, healthy, and tasty lunches.
Have a Separate Workspace
Maintaining a good work-life balance is so difficult when you work at home because your home is essentially your workplace. It’s not always possible or practical to work in a separate office, especially if you don’t need to. However, you can work from home without letting it take over.
The best way to do this is to set up a home office, which is dedicated to your work. You don’t work outside of the office and you don’t do anything else inside the office. Some people even set up a garden office so that they have to physically leave their homes.
An office doesn’t just help you maintain your balance, but it also improves your productivity. If you’re in the living room or at the dining table, you might be prone to distractions. Your office should also have a comfortable chair and a desk at the proper height, so you don’t damage your back.
Boost Your Productivity
As well as working in an office or at least a dedicated quiet corner of the house, you can boost your productivity in other ways. When you’re working all the time, you might think that you’re being very productive. However, sometimes the trick is to work smarter, not harder.
For example, work scheduling software by Sling helps you to schedule your work and to communicate with your team. Scheduling is a great tool for increasing productivity. When you know what you need to do, and when you need to do it, you’re far more likely to work in an organized and efficient manner. This way, you get your work done more quickly, giving you more time for other parts of your life.
You can also schedule set breaks, which will make sure that you don’t end up spending wasted time staring blankly at your computer. You may be surprised to learn that breaks improve your productivity, as they allow your brain to reset and rest, so you can keep on working at your best.
Even if you don’t think you have time for any breaks, they might just help you get finished earlier and improve the quality of your work.
Burnout and issues with work-life balance typically stem from a lack of support. If you’re juggling your family, your new business, and all your other responsibilities, it’s no surprise that something gets dropped.
Reach out to your friends and family for help, or at least contact a counselor to support you. If you find it difficult to ask for help, offer a support network. Your friends and family support you when you need them, but you’re also there for them.
Sometimes, all you need is a listening ear and some validation. But people can help in other ways. A home-cooked meal or help around the house can do wonders and may give you the time you need to work out your new balance.
– Photo: Victoria Heath: