When you work for someone else, they set your working hours and your breaks. When you work for yourself it can be so hard to switch off and find balance. Why? Because sometimes you don’t have any other choice! When you’re a small-business owner, your brain doesn’t start working at nine and finish at five and if you want to be successful, those first few years in business are tough and require your constant attention. You can’t afford to hire staff. You can’t afford to have days off. Everything comes back on you and you’ve got no choice but to make sacrifices to succeed.
But the statistics don’t lie. Being a small-business owner can take its toll on your physical and mental health. One study of over 400 small-business owners from 2017, found that 85 per cent of respondents took their work home with them and work-related problems kept them awake at night. Another study found that 40 per cent were struggling to juggle everything themselves and 22 per cent were experiencing loneliness and isolation.
What I do know that works from my past four years in business is that you are the only person who can create your work-life balance and set your working hours/limits/rules. And it takes serious discipline to stick to, every day. As a solo small-business owner in the social media area, these are some of the strategies I employ with technology to maintain a healthy balance between my business and my personal life. Here’s what works for me:
- I don’t have emails on my phone…and the world has not ended yet! Creating some space between your work and personal life is essential. Flicking through emails after hours and on weekends might feel productive, but often it merely leads to an increase in stress. If it’s imperative that you check your emails after hours, set aside some time to deal with anything urgent, but don’t scan every email that hits your inbox.
- I don’t look at my phone (other than to turn my alarm off) for the first two-three hours it of each day. Try to use the first hours of each day to either exercise or spend some time being present with your family and partner.
- House rule: no phones in the bedroom. Our chargers are next to the couch and that’s where our phones live at night. Research has shown the use of phones, particularly around bedtime can affect the quality of your sleep and even lead to sleep deprivation. Having your phone in a different room eliminates the temptation to check emails or social media before you go to sleep.
- No phones or laptops after seven pm. This can be a tough one to stick to but having a tech-free environment for a few hours before bed will do wonders for your relationship and peace of mind.
- Have one phone free day on the weekend. Try it one weekend and see how it feels. I can guarantee once you get over the initial anxiety of being phoneless, you’ll begin to enjoy the freedom of being unchained from your mobile.
Brooke Vulinovich, Social Media Expert, www.villamanagement.com.au