In a small business, there can be a lot of pressure to keep numerous balls in the air and the stifling to-do list can seem endless. On top of that, you have the demands of your personal life – friends, family, kids, holidays. We all strive for work-life balance and often, this is a key motivator for why we want to work for ourselves or start a side hustle in the first place. Unfortunately, balancing your personal commitments at a time when your business is also demanding your presence can be stressful and confronting.
So, what can you do to minimise this stress and strive for balance? Here are some tips for when personal and professional commitments compete for your time.
Take some time to clearly define your boundaries around work and personal life. Don’t over think it, but set some rules around the type of parent, spouse, friend, child, sibling you want to be. If you have to choose between a work event or a family commitment, have a means to evaluate both and decide which one you will look back on and regret not attending, but also understand the people in your life and their boundaries as best you can. So ask questions and be aware that the same rules don’t always apply in terms of what’s important to you versus others.
This may sound obvious, but sometimes you have to spend the time to regain time in the long run. An interactive calendar can be a real asset for both home and work life and keeping on top of deadlines and commitments (Wanderlist, Cozi etc.), and can help with planning short and long term. Stressful situations often arise from a lack of foresight and only realizing you have a time conflict short term. If you plan ahead and know that you have a busy patch in three weeks time, you might be able to offload some work or get ahead on the weekend to free you up to attend an important family function.
The other benefit of planning ahead is that if you do need to miss an important meeting or event, sometimes you can find other ways to contribute. You may be able to review the agenda ahead of time and share your inputs via email or arrange to have an important presentation recorded so you can catch up later. Planning ahead will give you more time to come up with a solution that’s beneficial to all.
There can be an expectation in a small business that you need to be all in all of the time and, if you’re not under the pump you’re not giving it your all. In reality, all this gives you is burn out. If you take a step back and smartly analyse what you spend your time doing, you can identify ways to get on top of your workload and manage your work life balance more efficiently. You may want to outsource parts of your business but can’t afford the expertise, but can you find efficiencies with other tasks. Can you automate reporting or data capture via Zapier or set up automated email funnels via Active Campaign or Campaign Monitor? Get on top of where you are losing time and strategise ways you can automate and build solutions that will give you crucial time back for a personal and professional life in the long run.
Melanie Aslanidis, Founder, Beachside Collective