Learn how to create a work-life balance with 11 principles that will help set you up for long-term success.
As entrepreneurs, we all struggle with creating that perfect work-life balance.
You really want to get stuff done, but on the other hand, you don't want to overwork and burn out.
Many entrepreneurs do. They want to go too fast and doesn't realize that this is not a sprint, but a marathon.
In the end, they end up getting the least amount of work done.
Finding that balance between work and play is indeed important – and in this post we'll dive into some techniques to do that.
In my experience, you can never be completely balanced, and maybe that's okay. Sometimes you might need to focus more on work, and other times more on personal life.
So don't feel bad if you can't get a 100% balance at all times. But you should aim for it.
Let's first briefly define what work-life balance means before we jump into the strategies.
What does work-life balance mean?
Having work-life balance means that you have managed to find that sweet spot where you're pushing yourself at work, and then taking time off to recharge.
It's all about giving all areas of your life equal attention and not letting yourself overload.
This is a cycle that will help you maintain focus and look forward to both your work time and your time off.
We all need to figure out how we can create a daily schedule in a way that moves the business forward yet leaves you with enough time to focus on your health and your social life – that is when work-life balance is accomplished.
How to create a work-life balance as an entrepreneur
In order to become an entrepreneur and be successful in the long run, you really need to master the balancing act of working and living life outside of work.
Use these 11 tips below to create a better work-life balance in your life.
🧑 Figure out how you work the best
Many entrepreneurs still find themselves trying to fit their workday into the 9-5 hours.
Maybe that's not optimal for you.
You have to get to know yourself and figure out how you work the best .
You want to create a life that matches not only your work and interests but also your biological rhythm.
Observe the following key areas:
- Are you a night owl or an early bird?
- When are your peak times and low points?
- Does “eating the frog in the morning” work for you or do you work best under pressure, leaving the most important task for the evening?
- Do you need a fixed routine or more flexibility?
- Do you prefer to have long work days followed by a work-free weekend or do you like to have shorter workdays with no days off?
Schedule your days to suit your needs. Create time blocks in your calendar that match both with your business and yourself.
🧠 Learn about basic cognitive functions
If you have never thought about why you are behaving a certain way, you have probably never realized the role your brain is playing in your day to day actions.
The #1 basic fact you need to understand is:
You are programming your brain with your conscious and subconscious daily actions – and thus creating a work life balance you might not even like.
If you are procrastinating, you are basically telling your brain that it's okay to do so.
Or if you're saying to yourself “being busy is good”, you're telling your brain that it's important to be busy, rather than being productive.
Once it's programmed this way, your brain will resist against any kind of action taking, because you are trying to get it out of its comfort zone.
So, if you want your brain to support you to take action, you have to program it the right way.
Techniques that will help you accelerate your mental growth:
- Be aware of your actions and consciously decide if they will move you forward or hold you back. Act accordingly.
- If you feel bad about something, don't do it. Teach your brain that it's okay to say no and that there is more than one way to complete a task.
- Don't procrastinate. Keep the time between work and free time as short as possible. Your brain will feel the difference between low-vibe procrastination and active/happy activities.
- Keep a journal. Set a daily goal on what you want to work on and review it in the evening. Analyze what you can improve the next day – and do it.
Be aware of your subconscious beliefs and habits. Program yourself right to set you up for a good work-life balance.
🏁 Set targets and strategize your goals
As an entrepreneur, you have a great vision of what you want to achieve. But do you have a strategic action plan that will get you there?
You gotta break down your visions into goals, and then goals into small attainable targets.
Having a roadmap will help you focus on the tangible things that needs to be done, and make it more realistic to achieve.
If you prioritize tasks that will move your business forward, you will feel that you achieved more at the end of the day – and in turn, be able to fully enjoy your time off.
Break down your goals into annual, quarterly, monthly, and weekly goals and thus create your daily to-do-list.
✔️ Be productive, not busy
Have you ever ended your day thinking: I've been working all day – but what have I actually accomplished?
In that case, you've had a busy day, but not a productive one.
Busy means that you are occupying your time with things that “need to get done anyways”. Whether it be attending a webinar that might help you, scrolling through your emails, or tidying up when you should be working.
But if you plan your day based on your big picture, set tasks and deadlines, you are guaranteed to have a productive day ahead.
Being busy has never had a great ROI.
If you opt for productivity, you will feel accomplished and have more energy for your loved ones and hobbies.
The pomodoro technique is a great way to make the most out of your time. It's an amazing motivator that will help you build and maintain focus for 25min working cycles.
💻 Outsource and automate
One of the things you have probably learned early on is that you won’t be able to do it all yourself. And you shouldn't.
Because it can drain your willpower and motivation.
As you grow your business, outsource what you're not good at and what you don't like.
Your end-game goal is to gather a great team of experts who specializes in the fields you don't want anything to do with.
Leaving you with what you love doing.
Great things you can outsource are:
- content creation
- customer service and communications
- admin tasks
- data entry
- and many more.
Make sure to also outsource tasks in your private life, e.g. cleaning, using a car wash, getting your lawn mown etc.
As you can afford it, outsource the things you're not particularly good at or enjoy doing.
📑 Skip multitasking
Multitasking is a time killer, studies has shown time and again.
Focusing one thing at a time is a real time saver.
Your brain needs time to build focus to work efficiently.
If you keep breaking your focus to do all kinds of things, you continuously need more time to rebuild your focus.
Time, that you will have to deduct from other important tasks or your leisure activities.
These five tips will help you stay focused:
- have a structured to-do-list or scheduled calendar
- switch off all notifications on your phone and laptop
- get all supplies, water, and snacks that you need for your work session
- close all tabs that might distract you
- take regular short breaks (again: try the pomodoro technique!)
Once you're ready to take time off work, really take time off and focus on being in the moment.
Get rid of the idea that multitasking is productive, and focus on one task at a time. Let your team and family know when they may and may not reach you.
💕 Marry your calendar
Your calendar is the best tool to create work-life balance.
It helps you to keep track of deadlines, maximize the time you have, and also schedule free-time activities.
Using a calendar can help avoid unimportant tasks to sneak in unnoticed.
To make the most out of your calendar, regularly monitor if:
- tasks take longer to complete than expected.
- you have planned enough time for work and leisure time.
- you need to adjust your schedule and deadlines.
- the schedule is working for your natural rhythm.
Setup your calendar and follow it. Eliminate time-wasters and create task and activity blocks.
📚 Get organized
Nothing disrupts your work-life balance as much as not being organized.
Having an overwhelmed mind makes it more difficult to follow the other principles in this post.
Getting organized is the best thing you can do.
If you are constantly looking for files or notes, and spend time recreating strategies and processes, you waste a ton of time.
Some questions to ask yourself:
- Are you spending time on a daily basis looking for notes, files, or pictures? Organize your folders.
- Are you writing the same emails over and over again? Create message templates.
- Do you forget what needs to be done, and need to rethink the process? Create documentation of your common tasks.
Getting organized is also about not letting procrastination take over. Use the one-minute-rule to get small things done right away.
Start asking yourself how you can become more organized. Organization is a skill that can be learned. Take courses if needed.
👨💻 Create a dedicated workspace
Having an office is both underrated and overrated.
There is some truth to alternating your work environment to stay creative, but at the same time, you need a workstation.
This is a place where you'll do the heavy lifting and getting stuff done.
Ways to get a designated work space:
- Transform one room of your home into a beautiful office.
- If you have limited space, try to divide your apartment visually.
- Invest in a co-working space. Get your own small office or work in a shared space with other entrepreneurs.
Try to find one or two places where you work and leave the others to spend your off time.
🎸 Have a non-work-related hobby
Even if watching an inspiring business movie or reading a book about self-improvement can be relaxing, sometimes it's good to really rest your brain.
Have a hobby where you can let your brain completely relax.
Many hobbies that aren't related to your business can still help you increase your focus at work.
Productive non-work-related hobbies:
- Physical activities that maintains your health and de-stresses your body.
- Anything art-related helps you become more creative at work
- Learning a new instrument exercises your brain, making it easier to solve complex challenges in your business
Make sure to spend your free time with fun activities and people you love. This will help you really take your mind off of business every once in a while and recharge.
Brainstorm new activities that has nothing to do with work. Pick one that excites you the most and schedule it into your calendar.
🍎 Prioritize your physical and mental health
All of the aforementioned tips are great ways to create and maintain a healthy work life balance, but one of the most important one is to prioritize your health
Eating right, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are great investments in your future. You will not only stay physically healthy, but you can also support your mental health.
Studies have shown that people with an exercise routine are more focused and cope with setbacks better.
You should also focus to improve your mental health:
- take breaks regularly
- breathing exercises
Prioritizing your health can help you maintain work-life balance much easier and it can also help improve productivity in your work.