Question: How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance as an entrepreneur?
Question by: Mark C.
Let Go of Fear
"Many entrepreneurs struggle with fear that if they're not working every minute that they could possibly be working, their business will fail and they will regret not having put in more time. However, in my own experience and in observing other successful entrepreneurs, letting go of this fear not only leads to work-life balance but also more meaningful productivity and accomplishment."
Build Lifestyle into the Brand
"These days, so many people are focused on getting funding, explosive growth and spending 80 hours a week on their business. While that's all great stuff, it can lead to burn out and unhappiness really quickly. Make lifestyle the most important factor in business from the beginning, and then grow with that principle in mind—less stress, more happiness."
Schedule Your Life, Not Just Work
"Reserve set times in your schedule for activities that allow you to recharge and that add value to your life, such as daily exercise, a weekly date or social night, time for family activities, and an annual vacation. You not only will have something to look forward to, but also extra motivation to manage your other time well so you do not have to cancel on others—and yourself!"
Set Some Boundaries
"Calm down. It's 11 p.m. You're not going to lose that client if you wait until tomorrow to respond to his request for a project estimate. Set work hours for yourself and stick to them. If you make yourself available at all hours—while out to dinner, while on vacation, during "sexy time"—you set a dangerous precedent!"
Turn It Off!
"Our smartphones are a part of our everyday lives, but as an entrepreneur, we literally sleep with it tucked under our pillow. Simply turn off the phone and be amazed at how much you can get done—you can even fit in a work out. You have to know when to separate work and life, which starts with shutting off from everything to take time for yourself. That's why there's a thing called voicemail!"
Learn Something New
"I started taking beginner piano lessons at age 26 so I could schedule time away from my computer. Now I know that my Tuesday and Thursday evenings are piano nights. I'm paying money to be there, so you better believe I'll be shutting off my work to get there."
Work It All Out
"Being an entrepreneur often uses up all of your time, but it's important to remember to stay healthy and work out. Try and add a calendar invite reminding you to go to the gym, run or do whatever fits you. If not, you'll most likely regret it when you start seeing negative results."
Figure Your Fuel
"Too often, the work-life balance discussion revolves around sleeping and exercising schedules; but for nonstop entrepreneurs, the conversation needs to begin with what we're using for fuel. It's important to stock up on healthy snacks that will reduce your cravings (for less healthy foods) and keep you going 24/7. Stash them in your desk, computer bag, and car for emergency use."
Remember Your Friends?
"Many entrepreneurs I talk to often think about how much time off that their peers have because of their cushy corporate jobs. Entrepreneurs should try creating similar schedules as well so that they can have proper work-life balance. If corporations can make it happen, entrepreneurs can too!"
Delegate Your Life!
"It's great to delegate bookkeeping, marketing, and admin work, but for many who are just starting off your budget won't necessarily allow for it. Get creative and delegate more of your "life" duties like childcare, cleaning house, and grocery shopping to a spouse. Having my husband help me out by doing some grocery shopping means I have more time to spend with him when we're at home."
Put Yourself First
"If you're an entrepreneur, your business relies heavily on your sleep and sanity. Make sure that you are putting yourself first by eating right, sleeping well and exercising (at a minimum). Remind yourself that those things are critical to thinking, creating and performing at your best, and make sure you stand firm to your commitments to all three."
Balance Is Not "Equal"
"Personally, I'm not happy if I'm evenly dividing my time between work and other things. I really enjoy what I do, to the point that I get bored with a lot of hobbies. I focus on making sure that I'm doing well on a personal level: if I'm feeling stressed out, I'll take a step back; if I feel like I'm not getting enough work done, I'm cool with investing more time."
You Deserve a Reward!
"It's easy to forget about the "life" part. Unfortunately, this ends up making you burn out, while never giving yourself "me" time and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Reward yourself, whether it's by taking a vacation, treating yourself to a day at the spa, or turning off your devices and reading a book. It will make you a better worker in the long run."
What's Your Work-Life Story?
"Whether I spend 80 hours a week working on business or I'm on vacation and give 100 percent of myself to my reflection and refueling, my experience of both are pretty much the same. I make it my priority to narrate the story of what I'm doing, how I'm feeling, and how I'm spending my time in a way that makes me feel good and balanced. The story I tell myself is what keeps me thriving."
Schedule It Like You Would An Important Meeting
"If you want time for yourself, you need to schedule it into your day. 4 days a week I make 2 hours for myself through Crossfit. There is nothing more important to me than my health. To ensure I never miss a class, it is scheduled into my calendar weeks in advance and my day is planned around it just like an important meeting with a client. If it's scheduled, you will do it. If it's not, you won't."
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. The YEC recently published #FixYoungAmerica: How to Rebuild Our Economy and Put Young Americans Back to Work (for Good), a book of 30+ proven solutions to help end youth unemployment.