Over the last year and a half, many people have been shocked that working from home does not always lead to a healthier business-life balance.
In fact, working from home can often make things much, much trickier!
Of course, that isn’t a big surprise to most small business owners out there. Those of us who have experienced working from home know how easy it can be to drive ourselves to the bone, burning the candle at both ends, sometimes for years at a stretch. Your body and mind need time to recover from a hard day’s work. Usually, that’s done by packing up at the office and heading home. But when you work from home, it can be challenging to release yourself from your work and take care of yourself. The lines between work and life can easily become blurred.
I know how tempting it can be to try and “do it all” when you’re in charge of everything for your business. When I first started Jennie Lyon Digital Marketing & Virtual Assistant Services from my home, I didn’t know how to resist the urge to spend every spare moment working on my business. It honestly took me years to realize that there’s no benefit to be had if you burn yourself out and begin to hate what you were once passionate about! This happens to many small business owners. They throw themselves into their business at the expense of their physical and emotional well-being. And that often leads to the end of their business.
It took me years to learn how to maintain a healthy business-life balance. Bit by bit, I’ve created solid strategies to form healthier habits. Here are some of my favorites:
#1: Set Work Hours, and Stick to Them!
As a small business owner, your “work hours” are often treated as more of a suggestion. If you are your own boss and support staff, extra hours often come with the position. But therein lies the trap.
Even if you work from home, be sure to set up your “office hours” so you can get up and walk away from the never-ending pile of work when your day “ends.” Of course, you will likely need to put in some overtime, now and then. But those days should be the exception and not the rule.
For myself, I have two main work hour rules: no working at night (past 5!) and no working on the weekend. I let all my clients know when they can expect to hear from me and when I’ll be off. By sticking to my hours, I ensure that I don’t overwork myself. And this keeps me from getting sucked back in after dinner or before bed!
But here is the thing: when I am at work, I am AT WORK. I’m not in “Mom-mode.” I’m not tidying up, or doing the dishes, or taking a few minutes to watch pug videos on YouTube. My work hours are work hours.
#1: Take Advantage of Your Freedom
Part of the advantage of being a small business owner is that you can set your “business hours” to correspond to your most productive work times or around when you’d like to be spending time with family instead. If you are an early riser who excels first thing in the morning, you can start work early. If you suddenly wake up at night, you can shift a few of your work hours to the evening to take advantage of that productivity. For some people, it’s much easier to say write their weekly content just before bedtime than it is at 2 in the afternoon.
And if you still find yourself that you’re in over your head and don’t have enough hours in the day to do things, you might need to bring on some extra help. That could be the perfect reason to bring on a virtual team like ours to take some time-consuming tasks off your to-do list!
#2: Get into a Regular Sleep Schedule
Being well-rested and having a proper amount of sleep has been proven to increase creativity and productivity, so make sleep a priority in your life.
You aren’t a teenager anymore, so it’s time to leave the all-nighters behind and plan work around your daytime schedule. I always make sure that I go to bed early to get up early and start a productive day. Combined with setting regular work hours, this helps build a daily routine that will structure your day for maximum productivity.
And that word is key: structure. Like I said above, you don’t necessarily need to have the same daily work structure as I do. Too many productivity gurus say that you need to get up at 5 AM every morning to succeed. Well, I know many people who can barely function at 5 AM, let alone hit the ground running. What’s much more important is finding the right balance of work, sleep, and decompression, then stick to that structure. By doing so, you can get into a groove that allows you to be your best self!
#3: Invest in Yourself
When was the last time you did something to invest in yourself, for example taking an online webinar? Chances are that, as a small business owner, you may feel like you don’t have time, even if that webinar could teach you something valuable about your business!
Everyone needs downtime, and that’s especially true for busy entrepreneurs. What would you most like to do if you could find some more spare time? Read for fun? Take an online course?
I have found the trick is to schedule “free time” into your day and defend it from being taken over by work. Save a block of time a few days a week that is only for self-care and enjoyment. Do something you’ve always wanted to do! Do the same for professional development. Schedule an hour or so every week dedicated to improving yourself and your business. Learn some new skills!
Here’s what I do! I get up early every morning and workout. No excuses! It makes me feel better, and gives me more energy for the entire day! Then, when I get off work at 5, I hit the hot tub. I need time to decompress! I also try to plan small fun things into the week. For example, grabbing dinner and taking it to the beach or taking my dogs on a walk to the ocean. I try to give myself little “treats” throughout the week that are fun, so I’m not always living for Friday!
#4: Take Care of your Body and Mind
Too many of us take our health for granted until we lose it. That’s why you need to take care of yourself, physically and mentally.
Your business will do better in the long run if you keep yourself healthy and happy. I’ve written about my workout and yoga routine before, but any kind of exercise you can enjoy daily for even a short amount of time is excellent. Even getting out for a 20-to-30-minute walk outside every day has huge benefits for your health. It doesn’t even need to be considered a “workout.” Every night, after my hot tub time, I swim with my husband in the pool. We turn on music and dance around, it’s an exercise that I don’t even realize I’m getting. And a little bit can go a long way!
I would also recommend trying transcendental meditation or some other mindfulness technique that works for you. While it won’t necessarily get you in better physical shape, it can dramatically improve your mood, focus, and productivity. I meditate daily, and I’m telling you it’s a game changer!
Again, the trick here is to not “try to find time” in your week for exercise or meditation. Instead, schedule it! Build it into your day! If it’s on your schedule, there’s a better chance, you’ll do it!
#5: Prioritize Family Time
In our busy, work-obsessed culture, it’s far too easy to push family time aside in favor of more “important” tasks. That is such a mistake! What could be more important than spending time with your family?
Whether that means date nights with your partner, spending time with your kids, phoning your mom or dad to chat for a while, or even taking a well-earned family vacation, you need to prioritize family time. Don’t become that stereotypical entrepreneur who misses all the important milestones as their children grow or becomes disconnected from their partner. Even though it can seem like it sometimes as a small business owner, you aren’t actually married to your work!
#6: Hire a Virtual Assistant or a Virtual Team
Ok, yes, I get that I run a digital marketing and virtual assistant agency. So, of course, I would advocate for you to hire a virtual team, right? Well, here is the thing: I was once dead set against hiring a virtual team for my own business.
Yeah, it was the height of hypocrisy. I was preaching to my clients that they needed virtual help while actively ignoring that need at my own business. I didn’t need a virtual team and I could handle everything myself! After all, I WAS a virtual assistant! Yeah, right…
But then I finally got over myself, realized that I couldn’t do EVERYTHING, and brought on a virtual team to take care of some of my daily tasks and help me with projects. Graphic design, writing copy for my website, social media, it was all getting to be too much (especially given my workload from my clients). Do you know what happened when I made the change? The same thing that I told my clients what would happen if they hired me. I suddenly had more free time, less stress, more productivity, and less repetitive tasks. I had more hours to spend with my family and, funny enough, more hours to spend on the work that actually mattered and my business grew and has continued to grow year after year. When I hired a virtual team, my overall productivity skyrocketed.
That was the biggest secret to finding a healthy business-life balance. I needed to accept that I couldn’t take care of everything (I am not an island and neither are you!) and bring on experienced team members who could help. Once I did that, my business-life balance suddenly shifted, and I was a happier, more energetic, and simply healthier person!
So, What Did We Learn?
Let’s review what we learned:
- Working from home does not always lead to a healthier business-life balance.
- Many small business owners throw themselves into their businesses with little regard for their physical and emotional well-being.
- Setting official work hours for yourself, even if they are only in your scheduler, can help you “leave” your work at the end of the day.
- You don’t necessarily need to maintain a 9-5 schedule as a small business owner. Set your work hours for when you are most productive.
- Get a solid amount of sleep every night. Trust me, it will help more than anything!
- Investing in yourself is crucial, so be sure to put that time in your schedule every week.
- Exercise and medication are equally important, so put them in your schedule!
- Your family is everything. You are NOT married to your work!
- Hiring a virtual team can help you instantly improve your business-life balance.
- A virtual team can also boost your productivity! Win-win!
Building a healthy business-life balance isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight. You will need to build up systems that allow you to leave your work AT work to focus on your personal life instead. One of the best strategies I’ve found is using a virtual team to get more work done without all of your time! In my free How to Use Our Digital Marketing Team to Grow Your Business and Get Your Life Back Workbook, I break down all of the ways how we help our clients improve their business-life balance and become healthier, more productive small business owners! And I hear it again and again from our clients that once they start working with us, their businesses grow and usually double the first year!
I hope I’ve convinced you to take a good, hard look at your work habits and figure out how to put yourself first. Most small business owners I know could use some adjustment to their business-life balance to take better care of themselves, especially if they work from home. If you would like some help, I’d be delighted to talk about work-life strategies with you in a free consultation! And if you have any other methods for putting yourself first, I’d love to hear them in the comments!
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