Why Finding Work-Life Balance Is Important for SBOs

As a small-business owner, you’re passionate about what you do — it’s why you started your small business — but that dedication can get in the way when it comes to taking time off. In a study by the tech provider NodeSource, almost half of the entrepreneurs surveyed said finding the right work-life balance is the biggest challenge they face.

When you love what you do, it’s easy to let your business become the center of your life, but you don’t want to do so at the expense of your personal life. From nurturing relationships with friends and family to making time for fun activities such as sports, travel and hobbies, downtime can help you recharge and revitalize. In fact, relaxation is proven to boost your physical and mental health, helping you better recover from everyday stress, according to Healthline.

Here are four ways you can achieve a good work-life balance in order to be a better entrepreneur.

1. Get Clear on Your Priorities

As a small-business owner, you have to wear a lot of hats — still, it’s understood that some aren’t as important as others. Look at your current set of projects and goals, and identify the top three priorities for your business for the current year. Evaluate every activity and task on your calendar. Does it fit and further your priorities? If not, the tasks aren’t a good use of your time and you’re spending more time at work than is necessary.

As you identify your priorities, it helps to understand your strengths. Doing the tasks that aren’t a natural fit for your talents will usually take longer to complete and may cause you to struggle. If the items that are priorities for your business don’t match your personal strengths, it’s better to be honest with yourself and take steps to change the situation.

2. Delegate Tasks

Small-business owners are often used to doing things themselves and that can make delegating a big challenge. You have to give up control, and that’s hard. Start by delegating the tasks that aren’t on your priority list, giving them to a trusted employee or outsourcing them to virtual assistants or consultants. Choose items that won’t affect your bottom line — it’s easier to test the delegating waters this way. Or, consider delegating personal tasks, such as housekeeping, grocery shopping or dog walking, that can consume the time you have at home.

Also, delegate the tasks that aren’t a good match for your talent. This can feel like an indulgence if you have to spend money to have someone else handle them, but it will be money well spent when it frees up your time to focus on your strengths. The best small-business owners know that they aren’t always the smartest person in the room, and they delegate the right work to the right people to achieve the right results.

3. Set Hours and Boundaries

With technology connecting us to our business 24/7, it can be tempting to let work creep into personal time. Instead, set work hours and stick to them, turning off your email and logging out of your computer system. Set boundaries around personal time by letting your staff know when and how you should be reached during off hours. And, try to unplug completely on weekends and holidays.

You can also pencil in regular breaks during the workday that will give you a sense of a good work-life balance. Taking an hour-long lunch to run errands can be ideal, but if you can’t afford that much time every day, be sure to get in a 10-minute walk or a quick phone call to a friend. Both can recharge your battery. Also, protect your focused work time by closing your door to interruptions. Getting your work done during work hours will make it less tempting to bring it home with you.

4. Make Time for You

Finally, take care of your health by putting tasks like exercise, doctor visits and vacations on your calendar. Also, make sure you’re eating well and getting plenty of sleep. All of these activities help counteract the toll a business can take on your health. It’s important to be aware that small-business owners often overlook signs of stress because they’re passionate about their work. By taking better care of yourself, you can take better care of your customers, employees and business.

Put simply, achieving a good work-life balance will impact the success of your business. To find yours, remember why you started this endeavor in the first place. Was it to have greater independence? To not have to answer to a boss? To be in control? Running a business requires hard work, time and some sacrifices. Make sure you’re not demanding too much from yourself, and you — and your business — will thrive in no time.

Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza
Stephanie Vozza is an experienced writer who specializes in small business, finance, HR and retail. She has been a regular columnist for Fast Company for more than four years and her work frequently appears in Inc., Entrepreneur and Parade.

See all posts by Stephanie Vozza
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