We’ve all heard the phrase “work-life” balance, and in this increasingly hectic world most of us struggle at one time or another to feel comfortable with our own division of life between work, and that all important “me” time. This is even more apparent amongst business leaders and entrepreneurs with recent research showing that 80% of business owners put in more hours a week at work than they wanted/planned to with one in five clocking up 60 hours or more. Worse still, almost half of all businesses suggest that management hours have increased over the last five years and that this trend is likely to continue.
This post is a guest contribution from Nick East: Life Coaching London.
So, whilst the concept of having a healthy work-life balance is nothing new, the problem is being exacerbated by an increasingly work-orientated culture that demands long or unsociable hours, leaving us with seemingly ever diminishing returns with regard to personal time. To paraphrase Dustin Moskovitz (Facebook co-founder) those of us who ignore the issue “are destroying personal lives….and getting nothing in return.”
Unfortunately, putting in more hours may pay dividends in the short term but over the long term it can prove to be counter-productive for the business and damaging to your health which ultimately may take any choice over work-life balance out of your hands. If we all took a little more time to get the balance right in the first place, not only is it likely that our business will become more successful but we will benefit from the freedom and health to enjoy it.
There are any number of ways that we can improve our lives and few actually involve a huge paradigm shift or massive restructuring of our business model, just a little common sense and some effective time management. Here are a few ideas that may help:
Learn to delegate or outsource
Yes, that old chestnut. Many entrepreneurs find this to be one of the more difficult things to do, particularly if the business is their “baby.” As the creative spark and driving force behind any business it is often all too easy to become entangled in micromanaging all the minutiae but the most successful business managers are those who can delegate the right tasks to the right people and as your colleagues/staff grow so the company will flourish.
Relax & stay healthy
Actively make time for friends and family and make sure you take holidays, and encourage staff/business partners to do the same. All work and no play very quickly turns even the best jobs to drudgery and can lead to resentment the dissolution of relationships on both sides of the fence. It is also advisable to get regular health-checks, business owners tend to be oblivious or dismissive of the symptoms of over-work, some even regarding stress or exhaustion as something to “power through”. Remember, prevention is always preferable to cure.
Remember why you’re in business
Whatever may have originally motivated a business person to follow their chosen path can easily get lost in the morass and humdrum of everyday life. Most entrepreneurs would say that the most important aspect of their work is that they enjoy what they are doing, but how many times have we heard that people have retired or quit from a particular profession because they either stopped enjoying it or had to do so for family/health reasons? Psychologically getting to the point at which one simply feels the need to “give up” is an anathema to the most driven business leaders, but equally they recognise that enjoying the ride is the whole reason to jump onboard in the first place.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
On the upside, many of the more astute business owners and executives are recognising that there is no longer any stigma in acknowledging that they need help in getting the work-life balance right. Where years ago they might have buried their heads in the sand the savvy entrepreneur is now turning to people such as Life Coaches for help with their lives in much the same way as they might approach a golf professional for help with their handicap or a personal trainer to improve their physical fitness.
Life Coaches are people who have been very successful themselves in one or more business ventures but have had to fight long and hard to achieve a successful balance in life and now want to help others achieve their ideal equilibrium. They can assist us either with some specific issues in our business or private lives such as confidence and empowerment or with more general coaching where we may feel life as a whole has plateaued and we need a helping hand to take the next successful steps. A Life Coach is there to provide advice and guidance, to support us through various transitions in life and help us to live our best life because for most of us we are “in this business to live” and not the reverse.