Tips for a better work-life balance

The Small Business Company

TSBC are the experts in small business - they help Government agencies, Banks, Accountants, Large businesses, & Industry associations deliver small business improvement tools to their own small business customers.

A good balance between work and play is crucial to our well-being, but there are times when it can seem almost impossible. People tend to get caught in the trap of working too hard and end up feeling empty and unmotivated.

The dangers of working too hard

Too many businesses fail because overworking has caused a breakdown in the owner’s personal relationships. To run a successful business, it is critical to have the support of your family. That means giving them a fair share of your time.

Many business owners believe there’s simply no way the business can function without their total commitment, but to be effective you need a clear mind and good health. Both are endangered by overworking.

The other dangers of overworking include:

  • Missing opportunities because you’re too busy, or you notice them too late to respond effectively.
  • Being short-tempered with your staff, affecting their attitude and performance and reducing employee motivation.
  • Being short-tempered with yourself, leading to diminished motivation.
  • Working to the point of burn-out.

Avoiding working too hard

The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to avoid working too hard.

Start delegating: Delegating is a critical skill that will free up time for a more balanced life. The question every business owner should ask is: “If I can earn $80 an hour for my business, why am I still doing $20 administration tasks?”

Create good systems: Good systems are the secret to delegation, because they give you the comfort that others can complete tasks competently in your absence. Developing a clear operations manual for each process in your business allows you and key staff to take a break – and speeds up training when someone new comes into the business.

Take mini-breaks: Put mini-breaks into your diary. Schedule yourself a day off once a month, a week off every 12 weeks, or perhaps take every Friday off. Make it regular, and make it happen. Don’t use your break for catching up on business matters at home. Use it to be with family, friends, your dog, or involved in your preferred hobby.

Schedule yourself a mini-retirement: How about six months off, every five years? You’ll need to plan for it by putting the right people and the right systems in place before you go. Trust yourself and your team and make it happen.

Talk… to your partner and your family: Ask for suggestions – they’ll see things that you can’t.

Talk… to other business owners: Chat to people who run a company slightly larger than your own, and who seem to be working normal hours. You’ll stop feeling so isolated, and you might get some valuable advice.

Weed out your client base: Do you have customers that take up far too much of your time for very little gain? Find a polite way to stop doing business with them or pass them on to staff members to deal with.

One of the principal joys of owning your own business is being able to take breaks, knowing things will function smoothly without you. If there’s any chance that you’re overdoing things, stop now and take stock of your situation.

Renewing your motivation

Take heart: it’s extremely common for business owners to lack motivation at various times. If you find you just don’t have the energy you once had, your staff and business will suffer, so take action before you start losing control of your business.

You could try the following:

  • Set new goals. Exciting, challenging but achievable goals based on where you want the business to be in three years’ time could renew your motivation.
  • Share your new goals with your staff so everyone understands where you’re all headed and you gain their buy-in.
  • Set measurable ‘stepping stones’ to the main goals and celebrate each achievement with staff.
  • Re-establish your daily routine. Do this in writing, in your diary. Allocate blocks in your diary for key daily activities: times for checking emails; meetings; visiting clients. Keep to these times and tell your staff about them so you’re not tempted to let things slide.
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