Finding a work/life balance is so important! If you've been in the entrepreneurship game for a while, you understand that establishing a work/life balance can be challenging. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of building something great. If we be honest, most of our motivations for building something great is to leave a legacy for our family or to be able to provide and/or meet the needs of our family. That’s honorable. But what happens so often is that people put so much of themselves into building a legacy for their family at the expense of their family. As an entrepreneur, I understand that there are so many things competing for your attention that it is sometimes easy to neglect the constants in your life. As they say, “the squeaky wheel gets the oil”. Inevitably (and unintentionally), your family gets put on the back burner. This may be necessary and may even be accepted for a while, but it won’t be long before you experience stress from things that you may find yourself unintentionally neglecting. Ultimately, if you were to take a poll, your family would rather have you at home than to be able to buy that next big thing.
I have worked for business owners that work so hard to build a legacy, they become workaholics. They occasionally come up for air only to find that they encounter a lot of issues at home because they are not present enough. I have seen business owners work themselves to death. They have so much stress in their lives—which comes with the territory—but don’t have effective means of reducing stress and so therefore thy are overcome by sickness produced by stress. Regardless, I don’t think you should have to choose between your family and your business. I don’t believe you should have to choose between having fun or enjoying life and building a legacy. You can have them both. You just have to design it that way.
One of the reasons I started D. Mack Consulting Group was to help entrepreneurs build systems in a way where everything that needed to get done got done. For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven (Eccleisates 3:1). We all have 24 hours a day to manage all of our responsibilities. How you mange that time is up to you. One fo the blessings about being an entrepreneur is that you are able to set your own schedule. You decide and direct all business related activities. Work/life balance isn't really that hard to achieve—it just takes you putting measures into place to ensure that you arrive at that balance. So here are some tips that can help you.
1. Schedule your time: If you don’t know what is on your plate, how can you manage it well? This is where scheduling your time comes into play. You place all activities that ust ne accomplished on your calendar. Utilize the functions that a calendar provides. For example, I always set most of my activities to remind me a week before, 3 days before, a day before, and an hour before. This keeps that activity top of mind. Everything that I am to accomplish is on my calendar and my calendar drives all my daily activities. So, along with your work responsibilities, schedule time to go on a date night with your significant other. Schedule your children’s extracurricular activities. Anything that is important and has to get done should go on a calendar (and perhaps a things to do list.
2. Plan ahead: Planning ahead can help you achieve work/life balance very easily and with minimal effort. Consider, for example, that there are certain things that come around every year. Birthdays and anniversaries, spring break, holidays. Be intentional about blocking off those times on your calendar in preparation of making those moments family-oriented time. I take a trip once a quarter to allow myself to get away and decompress. Whether I am travelling around the world, or somewhere close to home, I am taking the opportunity to “smell the roses” and enjoy life and family. That is not to say that I don’t focus on my business. I often come back inspired to implement new strategies that I may have gleaned and/or thought of during my time away, but ultimately, my goal is to focus on my physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being. It is so necessary that I built it into my systems and processes.
3. Time block: Time blocking is the practice of dedicating specific “blocks” of time to accomplish certain tasks within your day. You can do this daily, weekly, monthly, etc. For example, reviewing email for DMCG occurs every day at 12 pm. That is the only time that I check my email and set myself to address anything that is contained therein. This means that I am not allowing myself to be distracted from other tasks that need to be accomplished. Another example is DMCG’s administrative days. Fridays are my administrative days. This is when I take care of everything that I cannot take care of because I'm meeting with clients all day throughout the week. This is the day that I set aside to handle most of my internal administrative tasks such as filing, following up on tasks, and other like responsibilities.
4. Protect your calendar. Much like having a plan without implementing that plan, developing a healthy work/life balance requires intentional planning and implementation. What good is a plan that you don’t use? It is important that you stick to your calendar as much as possible. Most things in life are rarely and emergency. Try to limit interruptions and/or distractions that will keep you from focusing on what you should be focusing on at that time. Put your phone on “do not disturb” and give your tasks focused attention for the allotted time designated. If you finish early, you can then use that time to get ahead or to address any concerns that have to be addressed.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it should be that life is short and tomorrow isn't promised to any of us. Balance is necessary. We need to learn to take advantage of each opportunity, whether personal or professional. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that creating new habits takes time and ,in some cases, a paradigm shift. But once you start utilizing some of these tips, you will see how productive you become and how you are able better to manage all aspects of your life.