Busy? Well, isn’t that an understatement? If you’re like me, mastering work-life balance is no easy feat. Entrepreneurship is a constant juggling act of phone calls, meetings, emails, networking, promotion and strategy that’s often flanked by early mornings and late nights. Cue Rihanna: "work, work, work, work, work, work."
But too much work will burn you out and wear you down. Yes, you’re working towards a different type of life for yourself. Yes, that demands a lot of you. But trust me when I tell you, you’re not your best self if you don’t have balance.
After spending 13 years as a marketing executive working with companies like LiveStrong and AIG, I decided I wanted to venture out on my own. It didn’t take long for me to experience the craziness that comes with being an entrepreneur. It’s easy to become obsessed with your brand and with achieving a specific outcome. Although that obsession is necessary for greatness, you need to have some kind of balance. It won’t be 50/50, especially not early on, because it’s true that entrepreneurship requires sacrifice.
Do you know what else entrepreneurship requires? Your sanity. With that in mind, here are five things I’ve learned and recommend to help you successfully balance work and life.
There is nothing like walking. I don’t mean treadmill walking, which we all know is a good form of exercise. In this case, I’m talking about walking more for mindfulness, self-care and relaxation as opposed to exercise. I’m talking about outdoor, fresh-air walking. Those walks where you can feel the breeze hitting your skin, see trees and smell flowers. Walking is the ultimate entrepreneur reset. When I added a 30-minute walk to my weekly routine, my mood drastically improved for the better. There’s nothing like it.
I used to push myself to work insane hours (12 to 15 hour days) because I felt like I had so many things I needed to accomplish in one day. But the strain and lack of sleep only made me less productive and more stressed. I implemented an end-point for my days, where regardless of what I've done, I have to stop because my brain needs to relax and recharge. You can’t go nonstop; it’s simply not possible. Give yourself a hard stop, and then actually stop.
Apps exist for a reason. They’re here to help you be more efficient, and efficiency is a key part of effectively balancing work and life. Think Expensify, My Minutes, Evernote and TripIt, to name a few. Just as business is about optimization, so is your personal time. One of the best ways to save time is to start using the helpful apps that exist for entrepreneurs like us.
A good rule for overworked entrepreneurs is to turn off the television and pick up a book. Any book is fine, but a memoir, feel good fiction novel or self-help book is always advantageous for the psyche. Reserve some time to deliberately take a break and zone out between the pages of a good read. My favorites are “We’re Going to Need More Wine” by Gabrielle Union and “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life” by Jen Sincero.
Sometimes we’re too connected. As much as I’m a fan of social media, it’s draining. Sometimes you have to intentionally unplug from it so that you stop scrolling and start resting. Just like your body, your mind needs rest. As much as social media can bring people together, it’s not the best for work-life balance, especially for entrepreneurs. So, turn the push notifications and alerts off.
Work-life balance is possible for entrepreneurs; it just requires some deliberate actions. You need to set limitations for your time. You need to take breaks. A quick reset can do a world of difference for your productivity. Ever since I’ve made self-care and balance a priority, I sleep better, I don’t get those weekly headaches like I used to and I have a lot more energy. Balance is possible, you just have to it a priority for yourself.