Work-life balance – can it happen, or will it always be just out of reach? This is the question professionals ask themselves, whether they commute to an office, work from home, or do a bit of both.
Top entrepreneurs believe that an optimal balance of work, relationships, and personal time can be maintained, so we asked them for tips and tricks. Let’s hear what they had to say.
Family, friends, even other coworkers – these are the people that you can talk to and figure out problems when they show up. Use your network and don’t take on everything alone.
“Maintain a healthy work-life balance by developing a support system,” said Maegan Griffin, Founder, CEO, and Nurse Practitioner at Skin Pharm. “Difficulties arise and when they do, it’s important to turn to loved ones or a trusted circle of friends to help pitch in.”
It’s sometimes awkward to reach out and talk, but true friends will be there to help.
Stick to the Schedule
This past year, many schedules have been flipped inside out or thrown out the window altogether. Do your best to reestablish a schedule that makes sense for work and life.
“Create a schedule and stick to it, because this will help add structure to your days and weeks,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder and CMO of Hide. “Revise and rework the schedule if needed, but never let yourself fall into a ‘wing-it’ mindset where anything goes.”
Even if you have a loose schedule for each day of the week, that’s better than nothing.
It often helps to remind yourself why you embarked on your career in the first place, and what you’re working towards in the future. This helps put things in perspective and boost motivation.
“You’ve made a commitment to your company, so uphold your end of the bargain by putting your heart and soul into it,” said Eric Wu, Co-Founder and COO of Gainful. “Your business is now a top priority in your life, and you need to treat it as such.”
Priorities change over time, so go back to the drawing board if needed and sort things out.
Realistic Task List
How much can you realistically accomplish in a single day? It’s important to push yourself, but not go over the top with your to-do list.
“Managing your time is key to a healthy work-life balance,” said Patrick Crane, CEO of Love Sew. “Give yourself enough time to get things done and avoid overscheduling yourself.”
When you find that sweet spot for productivity, you can be more confident in scheduling tasks and know when enough is enough.
Not everyone is back in the office yet, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid coordinating and delegating tasks to the people around you. Keep an open dialogue about what needs to be done and make tradeoffs when you need to.
“The first stages of starting a business will require your full attention, but as you start building up your team and delegating tasks, it gets a bit easier, said Darren Litt, Co-Founder of Marketer Hire. “Making the right picks in terms of recruiting and hiring is so important for balance and quality of life overall.
A trustworthy team can make or break your work-life balance, so hold everyone to a high standard.
Time is Money
Wasting time isn’t just a bad habit – you’re undermining your own ability to balance work and life by enjoying neither.
“We all have the same amount of time in the day, so raise the bar for how you spend that time,” said Joshua Tatum, Co-Founder of Canvas Cultures. “When you start being more selective with your tasks and energy, you get more done and enjoy the process along the way.”
Start valuing your time more, and you’ll start getting so much more done each day – that’s just a law of nature.
When it’s time to call it a day (or a night), make that decision and stick to it. No peeking at emails, chats, or task lists. Walk away from work and relax 100%.
“Working from home can cause you to feel like you never stop working, which can lead to stress,” said Andrew Bernstein, Co-Founder and CEO of Kinder Beauty. “It’s important to remind yourself about expectations for when to disconnect, detach, and get back to your home life by walking your dog, taking a drive, or doing an activity with your child.”
Leave the house if you need to – just don’t slip back into work after you’ve made that decision to stop for the day.
Parkinson’s law states that we take the full amount of time required to finish a task. If you have all day to do a task, it will take a day. Why not shorten the time frame?
“You can get more done in shorter time frames if you apply some pressure and speed up your process,” said Anthony Puopolo, CMO of REX MD. “Pick up the pace and you might surprise yourself – we’re often more capable than we think.”
Some tasks are definitely time-consuming, but you can likely speed them up with focus and smart tactics
There may be some freaks of nature out there, but for the most part, we’re all cut from the same cloth. Use your energy wisely and stay focused on what matters most. Everything else can be minimized or cut out entirely.
“It’s important to strive for a healthy work-life balance by setting limits and looking after yourself so that you can make time for the relationships and activities you enjoy and keep your energy levels high,” said Jordan Nathan, Founder and CEO of Caraway.
What are the big energy drains on your life now? Chances are, you can do without them.
Know Your Limits
Professional culture tends to glamorize grinding and staying up late for work. While this is sometimes necessary, it’s not going to help anyone in the long run.
“In a work-from-home world, we need to know our own limits more than ever, and be able to hit the brakes when it’s time to be with family or just chill out solo,” said Jordan Smyth, Founder and CEO of Gleamin. “Don’t be a hero and push yourself too far, because that’s a recipe for burnout.
You might find that you perform better when you put stricter limits on your workday, so give it a try.
What are your biggest distractions, and when are you most tempted to procrastinate? These are tough questions, but they need answering if work-life balance is to be achieved.
“Distractions are endless these days, and they can dismantle your day if you don’t commit to cutting them out,” said Jeff Brown, President of Big Fig Mattress. “Identify your biggest time wasters and save them for the end of the day – this will help you stay balanced and focused.”
You can’t completely destroy all distractions, but you can absolutely boost your focus and squeeze more productivity out of each hour.
What does being healthy mean to you? Not everyone has the same definition, so set your own standards and stick to the plan.
“Eating well, exercising daily, and getting enough sleep are all vital for coping with personal and professional woes and developing healthier habits for achieving a healthy work-life balance,” said Bill Yates, Executive Vice President at Velociteach.
Nobody is 100% perfect when it comes to health, so don’t see it as an all-or-nothing deal.
Break a Sweat
For some people, exercise is the keystone habit that holds everything else together. If you need to blast through stress or anxiety, a workout can be just the thing you need most.
“I make time to exercise,” said former IBM CEO Ginni Rometty. “It’s not being indulgent. I think it’s got a lot to do with your ability to manage properly and stay focused. There’s no doubt about that.”
No need for complex workouts or epic crossfit sessions – a simple jog or yoga session can do the trick most days.
Jump Right In
When that alarm clock goes off in the morning, do you dawdle your way to work or do you dive right into your daily tasks? Making that instant leap is a powerful way to get in the groove fast.
“You’ve got to jump into action and waste no time early in the day, because that’s the make-or-break moment,” said Bing Howenstein, Founder of All33. “Touch base with your team, set objectives, and establish a strong precedent for the rest of your day.”
You won’t have that burst of inspiration every day, but the more you practice, the easier it becomes.
When your work is done, do you have the discipline to shut the computer down and walk away for the night? This is easier said than done, but it’s key to mastering work-life balance.
“Technology has facilitated people’s lives in so many ways, but it has also created an influx of expectations of constant access to information and it seems as if the notifications never end,” said Jeff Henretig, President of Apothecanna. “I think it’s important to make time and unplug from all of your gadgets and simply enjoy the moment. This will help create and maintain a healthy work-life balance.”
It won’t be comfortable to unplug at first, but it will help you in so many ways.
Trust Your Team
Your team has your back, or at least they should. When you’re able to put full trust in your team, work-life balance becomes a real possibility instead of a distant dream.
“Achieving work-life balance requires putting a lot of faith in the people around you, because as a leader, there are only so many things you can accomplish on your own,” said Peter Horvath, CEO of High Times. “Build a team you trust and master communication skills early on – you’ll thank yourself later.”
Is it time to rethink your team structure or bring new people on board? These might be the key factors in attaining work-life balance.
For many hard-working professionals, burnout is the beast looming overhead, waiting to strike at any possible moment. Willpower won’t conquer, burnout – you need smart tactics.
“Avoiding burnout isn’t about getting three square meals or eight hours of sleep,” said former Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer. “It’s not even necessarily about getting time at home. I have a theory that burnout is about resentment. And you beat it by knowing what it is you’re giving up that makes you resentful. I tell people: Find your rhythm. Your rhythm is what matters to you so much that when you miss it, you’re resentful of your work.”
Come up with your own strategy to outwit burnout and restore your energy when needed. You’re in this for the long haul.
Say No (Sometimes)
It’s one of the first words we learn when growing up, but not enough adults actually say “no” when it comes to balancing work and life.
Build up your confidence and be okay with turning down obligations – it’s not the end of the world if you take some time for yourself and your loved ones.
“Manage your time and learn to say no,” said Shana Hall, Creative Director at Aurelle. “Boundaries between work and home should be fairly clear.”
These days, work-life balance is harder to manage than ever to achieve. Still, these tips should help you value your time better, communicate with team members, and fully enjoy the moments you have away from the office.
Passionate Writer, Blogger and Amazon Affiliate Expert since 2014.