How to Achieve Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

Yura Bryant Yura Bryant September 22, 2016

work-life balance

You wanted to become an entrepreneur to be your own boss, make an unlimited amount of money, and most importantly, to have freedom of choice. Right?

Can you honestly say that freedom of choice is your current reality?

Face it. As an entrepreneur working to build a successful business, you have a lot of responsibilities.

A few include:

  • Servicing existing customers’ needs
  • Securing new customers
  • Selling current products or services
  • Developing new products or services
  • Building strategic relationships

Well, you get it.

There is just so much that has to be done as an entrepreneur that there is little time to spare. Twenty-four hours in a day, minus the sleep, doesn’t really seem like that much time when you have a business to operate and build.

Every day as an entrepreneur seems like a marathon. You’re exhausted after putting in long hours of work, but you wake up the next day and do it all over again.

Let’s ask a serious question. With so many hours spent on your business, how is your personal life going?

  • Your spouse or romantic partner probably constantly nags you about the lack of time you spend together.
  • If you have kids, you probably don’t spend as much time with them as you would like, which could do serious damage to your relationship with them in the future.
  • Your friends don’t even invite you out anywhere anymore because they know that your business is your life.
  • You are not even aware of what is going on in the outside world—all you know is your business.

Is pursuing success as an entrepreneur really worth risking so many relationships and losing your personal life?

If your ultimate goal is simply to be wealthy, then you probably don’t mind risking the loss of relationships and not having a personal life.

However, entrepreneurship is ultimately about enjoying the fruits of your labor, right?

You don’t want to become a scrooge—someone who has financial wealth, but never experiences the interpersonal joys it can bring.

As your business becomes more busy and stressful, you have to look for ways to perfectly balance your business life and personal life.

What is Work-Life Balance?

Work-life balance is simply a healthy balance between your work life and your personal life.

Achieving such a balance doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to put an equal amount of hours into both your work life and personal life.

Realistically, being an entrepreneur, your business is going to require a great deal of your time. You can’t neglect this responsibility, especially in the beginning, if you want to be successful.

When you wake up, your business and the day’s tasks are on your mind. Before you go to sleep, you think about what was accomplished during the day and how close you are to achieving your overall business goals.

You could view your business success as personal success, but that shouldn’t be the case. Your business can provide you with wealth, but money can’t replace real people and real experiences.

Although your loved ones will certainly enjoy the lifestyle provided by your success, they may also come to resent you because your time is never spent with them.

This is a commonplace experience that many people in business are aware of.

We all want to enjoy our family, have fun with our friends, and experience life, but sometimes it’s a struggle to do all these things and still keep our businesses afloat.

On the other hand, we didn’t become entrepreneurs only to struggle financially.

So as much as we want to achieve a work-life balance, we aren’t willing to sacrifice our ability to achieve financial success to get there.

Does this make us selfish?

It’s just a practical way of looking at things. After all, if you don’t get the work done, then who will?

You know that a perfect balance between your work life and personal life can’t be achieved, but you can take actions that make your daily life more manageable and which allow you to handle both parts of your life.

And you have no excuse for not achieving this balance. If billionaire entrepreneurs make it a requirement to schedule time for their personal lives while maintaining their busy schedules, so can you.

  • Richard Branson: Branson says the keys to maintaining balance for him are flexibility, delegating work and prioritizing time for fun. “I find that technology is a great help—I use phone calendars, email reminders and mobile reminders to maneuver my way to each meeting, event, and party. You can also use these things to make sure you have time to eat regularly and that you can get a good sleep. My family is the center of my life, so wherever I am in the world, when I have a few minutes, I talk to my wife and kids.”
  • Warren Buffet: Buffet’s decision to stay in Nebraska rather than move to New York City—where life is a constant rush and expensive—has helped him maintain a more balanced life. “You may need to do fifty things a day in New York, but I’d rather to do some reading in my office and do one to two things a day and do them well.”

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How to Achieve a Better Work-Life Balance

The first step to creating work-life balance is prioritizing by importance the activities that will occur during the course of your day.

Implementing a balanced schedule will allow you to make sure you are including things that matter to you personally, beyond just sales calls and marketing messages.

Implementing Your Schedule

As an entrepreneur, operating within a strict schedule can be hard to achieve, because no two days are the same. When something within your business needs your attention, you may feel like you need to drop everything you are doing to address the problem.

While it may be necessary to attend to some issues straightaway, every little thing that occurs doesn’t need your immediate attention.

Let’s say it together:

  • Every email doesn’t need your immediate response
  • Every text doesn’t need your immediate response
  • Every phone call doesn’t need your immediate response

If it isn’t a specific activity that you have allocated time to in your schedule, then it is a distraction.

The best way to plan your daily activities is to create your schedule for each day the night before. This way you can hit the ground running in the morning.

When you plan things the night before, you remember what occurred earlier in the day—what you achieved and what you didn’t get to. One of the easiest ways to do this is to keep notes of your activities throughout the day so that you can review why they were or weren’t achieved, and plan accordingly.

But remember, we aren’t focusing only on business activities. Work-life balance means that our personal life is given the proper attention it needs.

Your day can’t consist of only business activities.

Even though working on your business will dominate your schedule, you will actually have to make the time and effort for your personal life.

Scheduling your day

You’re an entrepreneur so an early start to your day should already be something that you do. Many successful entrepreneurs are early morning risers. The earlier you get up the more you get done.

Provided below is an example of how your schedule could flow in order to achieve a work-life balance. The example used here is just a standard schedule — yours may be more complex.

5:00am – 6:30am

  • Wake up
  • 30 min for light workout or meditation
  • 30 min for breakfast
  • 20 min to shower and dress

6:30am – 7:30am

  • 5 min to go over schedule from the night before
  • 15 min to check and respond to emails
  • 15 min to catch up on current news
  • 20 min to read book of the week/month

7:30am – 12pm

  • Begin your work scheduled for the day
  • The task with the most importance is given priority attention
    • You want to dedicate a lot of time to making progress on or completing this task, but don’t drag it out. Tight time restraints force you to be more productive. Try to spend no more than two hours on this ‘most important task.’
  • As your first task is completed, move forward to the next
    • Dedicate no more than an hour to each. It may seem impossible to accomplish much within these tight time constraints, but you’re actually forcing your brain to be sharply focused.

12pm – 1pm

  • 30 min to eat lunch
  • 30 min clear your head and get re-energized
    • Take a walk
    • Power nap
    • Read a book

1pm – 6pm

  • Revisit your priority task if it has not been completed
    • No more than an hour and half spent on finishing it up
  • Manage your business processes
    • 1 hour to follow up with clients via phone or email
    • 30 min to engage on social media and other networks
    • 30 min to check your analytics and backend details
  • Begin finishing up your day at the office
    • Go over the work you completed and note the tasks that will require further attention

6pm – 9pm

PERSONAL TIME!*

  • Attend kid’s game or recreational activity
  • Eat dinner with spouse/family
  • Spend quality time with friends

10pm – 11pm

  • 30 min to review your day and set your schedule for the next day
  • 30 min to read a book before going to sleep

You will notice that the majority of your day was spent working on your business, and only three hours were dedicated to your personal life. That might seem like a small amount of time, but being an entrepreneur is a time-consuming endeavor.

Achieving financial freedom requires sacrifices.

* You don’t want to simply set scheduled time in the personal category like every other appointment, because it makes people feel like they’re just a part of your schedule rather than being an important part of your life. Make sure to make time for the people who matter to you, but also make sure you want to spend time with them—you aren’t just “fitting them in.”

Make Compromises

The perfect work-life balance isn’t achievable, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still try to make those in your personal life happy.

Let your loved ones know that they will have to be patient so that you can focus your time on building a successful business. You are working hard to improve their lives, so communicate this to them and set a timeline for the goal to be accomplished.

Let your family know that when you achieve a certain goal, they’ll be rewarded for giving you the time to work. Maybe it’s a family day outing or a family vacation. Giving your family something to look forward to may help them understand why you work so hard.

Communication is the key.

Just because you understand the importance of spending so much time working on your business, doesn’t mean that those around you do. If your work schedule for the day may take more time than usual, let it be known and promise that you’ll make the time up.

Keep people informed so that they know what to expect.

Develop Systems that Create Balance

The only way real work-life balance can occur is if you focus on working on your business, not working in your business.

This means creating a business that operates without needing your constant involvement in every business process. When you hire employees or implement automation, you will relieve yourself of many of the day-to-day activities.

  • You shouldn’t be making every sales call as your business grows (heck, we’re hiring sales apprentices right now, and we already have a few on the team. Growth is good.)
  • You shouldn’t be the one developing all your marketing campaigns as your business grows
  • You shouldn’t be on the phone talking to customers for hours as your company grows

The Hard Work of Creating a Good Work-Life Balance

When you hear about CEOs playing golf during the day or going on week(s) long vacations, remember that they’re afforded the ability to do so because others are handling the day-to-day responsibilities. They likely worked very hard to get to the place where they could have this kind of flexibility.

How do you afford yourself the ability to enjoy the fruits of your labor with your family and friends?

If you truly want to spend more time with your family and friends, you will have to transition from being a business owner (a person who manages and works in their business) to being an entrepreneur—a person who solely oversees the growth of their business.

There is no substitute for hard work in entrepreneurship, and hard work requires a lot of your time and attention. But you didn’t become an entrepreneur just to work 24/7 on your business. You became an entrepreneur to have the financial freedom to enjoy life.

As fellow entrepreneurs, we expect each other to work very hard to build successful businesses, but we also want each other to be healthy, well-rounded people who enjoy life and those who are most important to us.

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