Oh, work-life balance, that elusive spirit that we are all chasing. Balance is the dream, the goal, the ultimate sign that we have managed our personal lives and our work successfully so that we lead a well-adjusted and stress-minimal life. We’d say ‘stress-free,’ but that’s an illusion!
In today’s world of work apps, social networks, and constant connection, the work-life balance might seem like an illusion as we can never indeed switch off. There have been countless articles proclaiming the death of balance; apparently, we now have to accept that there is no such thing.
We’re not ready to give up yet, however. Implementing consistent work-life balance strategies means that you too can achieve that holy grail.
Why Work-Life Balance Seems So Illusive
One of the main things that make the unicorn of work-life balance seems so elusive is that no one knows what it is. The common perception seems to be that it is in ‘work zone’ from 9 am to 5 pm (or some combination of eight hours) and then being able to shake off the work day and enjoy some downtime without work interruptions.
The fact of the matter is, this just isn’t going to happen. With the prevalence of technology in our working lives, switching off isn’t as simple as going home and forgetting about it. This is even more true for entrepreneurs, who feel a tremendous sense of ownership over what’s happening at work.
It’s hard when you’ve got so many balls in the air to feel like you’re ever going to be able to compartmentalize. Work is a huge part of many of our lives and getting away from that often can’t be achieved.Work-life balance is entirely achievable with a little bit of effort. It takes practice, patience, and persistence!Click To Tweet
We’ve also all been in the position where we make firm resolutions about work-life balance, saying we’re going to leave on time, go to the gym and cook a healthy dinner. Then there’s last-minute feedback from a client, all your deadlines get pulled forward, and you end up working until midnight. At times like this, work-life balance never seems further away.
Despite all this, we promise that work-life balance is entirely achievable with a little bit of effort.
How to Achieve Work-Life Balance
So how do we catch this constantly shifting sprite? Mostly, you have to be strict with yourself (which is the hardest type of tough to be!) and consistently implement work-life balance strategies. What strategies are important?
Number one on the list is, of course, disconnect. Listen up, millennial entrepreneurs! You might have heard it before, but it’s vital. That phone lighting up is always going to lasso you back into work even when you’re chilling on the sofa with Netflix, so you need to turn it off and put it somewhere else. Also if it’s only for an hour a day, that disconnected hour will provide you with so much balance.
Our next strategy is all about preparation. It will come as no surprise that we’re prominent advocates of careful planning. When you feel submerged in work, it’s hard to make time for schedules and to-do lists, but it’s time worth spent. Mapping out your week ahead is going to give you a much better idea of the time you have – and it’s not just planning your work, it’s also about your personal life. It might seem strange to schedule time with family and friends, but it means you’ll commit to it much more.
It’s hard when you’re running your own business because it means so much to you, but you need to prioritize self-care, whatever that looks like to you, as much as you prioritize work deadlines. Whether it’s exercise, a long bubble bath or a cocktail or two, taking time for yourself is a guaranteed way to prevent overload and help you refocus.
Finally, and most importantly: take vacations. It’s easy for business owners to see holiday days as an extra time to focus on those projects that need to get finished, but holidays and vacations are supposed to act as ‘breathing spaces’ in your year. Working through them means you never reset and all your days blend into one.
Relentless work is not the way to achieve either balance or a successful business, so give yourself a break!
Why Your Definition of Work-Life Balance Matters
What you’ll notice about our work-life balance strategies is that none of them suggest setting rigid work hours or not responding to emails after official working hours or even ‘going home and staying home.’ After all, this might not represent balance to you.
If you’re on edge sitting at home thinking of all the things you need to do for upcoming projects, that’s not going to do much for your well-being, so sometimes you might as well be at work! Making work-life balance achievable has a lot to do with accepting that balance is not necessarily a 50-50 split and that it is a fluid situation.
Some weeks your priorities might be more focused around work; some weeks it is more concentrated on exciting events in your personal life. What’s important is that overall you achieve a harmony that aligns with what your values in life are. Being clear on your values helps you to be clear on your boundaries at different points in time.
Boundaries are the key word here. You have to accept that the traditional idea of work-life balance is a bit of an illusion that you often can’t control – or perhaps don’t want to if it’s your business at stake. What you can manage are your boundaries.
Remember that what work-life balance looks like to you is a personal choice and as long as you feel rewarded and present in everything you do, you’re guaranteed to stay productive and happy. Feeling positive means your business will reap the benefits.
Trust us; work-life balance is no illusion – you need to make it work for you!