Sometimes the boundary between your work life and personal life isn't really clear. This is especially true in this age of technology and 24/7 connectivity. In today's economy, it's tempting for entrepreneurs to turn into workaholics. There is nothing wrong with wanting to work hard. We've all heard the popular advice that if you want to be successful, you have to work hard. Everyone wants to give their families and themselves a good home and a comfortable life.
No matter how hard you work, it's important to find a healthy balance between your work life and personal life. Many workaholics will tell you achieving a true balance between work and your personal life is impossible if you want to be a successful entrepreneur. I believe this is a false assumption. Should finding a balance be a priority? My answer is a resounding yes. My philosophy has always been: "if I want to be truly successful in business, balance is key." The trick is learning how to work smarter.
Worn Out? You Might Be Burned Out And Not Even Know It
If all you're doing is working all the time and you still feel you are not accomplishing your goals or constantly feel tired, you may be experiencing job burnout. According to the Mayo Clinic, job burnout is a form of stress that leaves you mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted and is combined with feelings of incompetence and doubts about the value of your work.
Working Smarter Versus Working Harder
My principle is simple: I carefully prioritize my time and always seek ways to simplify how I work. I don't believe in staying busy just for the sake of staying busy. I find that tactic to be counterproductive. What I do is concentrate on ways to accomplish tasks in the most efficient way possible to allow me to have time for socializing, family, play and most important rest.
Productivity and time are elements that require focus. Think about it. Being at work doesn't necessarily mean that work is actually getting done. Being successful in today's demanding and fast paced work environment has led many to believe spending long hours at work is the main contributor to increased productivity. Common business tasks like reading emails, attending endless meetings and dealing with interruptions can cause teams to lose focus on the actual work that needs to get done. This usually results in you and your team being forced to work outside normal business hours or on weekends to get everything done.
Achieving true work-life balance is a challenge for business owners, but for the sake of your health and well-being, it's something you really need to make happen. Here are some tips that can help you rewire your life, better prioritize your time and increase your productivity:
Do What You Really Love
When we are working on things we love, it never feels like work. You tend to give it your 110 percent. When you work hard on something you don't really love, sooner or later you will start feeling stressed and burned out. On the other hand, if you enjoy what you do, you don't mind putting in the extra time and effort it takes to succeed. Another thing I've learned is that doing something you hate just for the sake of making lots of money is never good and will eventually lead to failure.
Learn To Delegate
To some delegating may be the hardest thing to do, but you don't have to carry the entire workload yourself. I always advise new business owners to hire people who they trust and whose skills complement theirs. Learn to delegate tasks effectively. Communicate the specific objective in detail and ensure everyone involved understands what success looks like. Inspect the results and hold them accountable for their actions. See my article on Effective Communication Tips.
Effectively delegating tasks you don't have to do yourself can go a long way in helping you achieve a better work/life balance.
Get Lots Of Sleep
Sleep is something we can all take for granted. We think when we work longer, we are being more productive. Nothing can be further from the truth. Not getting enough sleep will not only adversely affect your health, but will also crush your daily productivity.
Making business decisions and interacting with your team can take up a huge chunk of your day. If you are always exhausted, you won't be at your best. Companies are increasingly acknowledging the fact that most of their employees need more sleep. To combat this problem, companies like the Huffington Post and Google have installed nap rooms and energy pods in their offices. Taking a quick 20 minute nap can make a huge difference in productivity and overall feeling of well-being. When you are sleep deprived, it is difficult to focus and function properly.
Drop Activities That Sap Your Energy And Time
One great way for you to take charge of your time and remain productive is by dropping activities that drain your energy. Things like mindless gossip with co-workers, online arguments, negative thinking and excessive worrying can quickly zap your energy. These types of activities only lead to unnecessary stress and aggravation. Instead, focus on things you can control. This includes taking good care of yourself, eating right and exercising regularly.
Take Time To Unplug
Technology has made unplugging much harder. Admit it, even when you are eating dinner with your family or going to bed, you still sneak a peek at your emails on your smart phone. The reality is that many people are addicted to their devices. Checking emails, being on call 24/7, posting on Facebook, Twitter and other social sites has become routine and expected. This addiction has become so bad that many executives are paying big bucks to participate in "digital detox" sessions in an attempt to rebalance. (Read my tips on managing your overflowing inbox).
The reason I chose to become an entrepreneur is that I wanted to have more time with my family. I will admit, however, as my business has grown, work seems to be eating up more and more of my time. Although it can really be a challenge to unplug and be present when I am with my family, I still finds ways to do so. When it's time to focus on work, I am fully engaged. On the other hand, when I am on vacation, I am fully present with my love ones. This gives me a real chance to fully rest and recharge and be much more productive when I get back to work.
Running a successful business and still carving out some "me" time is important. If you want to be more successful in the long run, you will need to watch out for signs of job burnout. Take care of your health and learn to work smarter. Do you think you can truly achieve work-life balance? What challenges are you experiencing? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.