What is Work-Life balance and why should I want it?
Work-life balance is the equilibrium we strive for, between our dedication to our career and the commitments of our home life. So, it’s striving for a sense of harmony between the two that ultimately brings us a sense of happiness and maybe even contentment.
Personally, I think that those of us who chose to work for ourselves had a dream that work-life balance was in the mix of our business plan when we started out, even if it wasn’t actually written in it… but it’s one of those things that seem to be quite hard to achieve. You only need to look on social media to see those who don’t feel they quite have that figured out!
Where ever you are in that quest I do think it’s an important factor of our well-being and mental health to push towards finding an equal balance. I also think that when we feel more in balance and at peace we are ultimately more creative and productive, which is great for our businesses.
How can I achieve Work-Life balance?
This is the question isn’t it!
I remember someone saying to me once that this perfect balance is unachievable, because there’s always something, some aspect of your life or work that demands attention. Their solution was to accept that this will happen and to ‘go with the flow’. The perfectionist, the OCD planner and dare I say it, the workaholic in me shivers… while the hippie, the adventurer and the family-girl scream, ‘Hey, my turn now!’
Over the last 12 years of self-employment I have been working towards my own work-life balance and here’s what I have found helps;
10 ways to achieve Work-Life balance if you are self-employed
Create boundaries between your day job and home life – we often find ourselves logging onto Facebook at ungodly hours or checking our emails ‘just in case’, but the reality is that this very act sets a precedent of unhealthy habits. Set your working hours and do your best to stick to them.
Prioritise – at the end of each week I take time to sit down and plan the following week. This allows me the space to prioritise my coming week’s focus and make sure that I have time for all those important jobs. It also helps me to set out my days in a way that doesn’t see me working over time regularly, if at all.
Set aside time for you – This is really important. If I work a weekend because of a craft show, then I take off time in lieu the next week. If I’m feeling under the weather I look at my schedule and ask myself what priorities I cannot delay, work through those and then give myself time off to rest. I also very occasionally take ‘me’ days. I think in any other office they call these ‘mental health days’ and yes, they are just that. If I’m feeling like things are too much and I’m exhausted, then I will take a day off. Admittedly in the last year I may have done this just once, but by allowing myself the space it helps me to mentally recharge.
Learn to say no – Saying no is very difficult at first, because aside from our not wanting to disappoint we also know that if we don’t work, we don’t earn. The problem is that this can lead to us opening the door to all requests, even those which feel unreasonable, and getting bogged down trying to wade through it all. The truth is that sometimes we need to say no, just as people need to hear us say it.
Play to your strengths – we have a certain set of skills in our workplace, beyond the production of our products… it could be accounting, or it might not! My advice is to work the areas which you are better at and delegate out what you are not. Even on a low, or ‘no’ budget we can find tools to help us. For example I’m really bad at writing in a diary, or keeping my to do lists all in one place, so I choose to use a tool called Asana (which I have spoken about many times here in the blog and you can find on my resources page). Asana helps me keep everything in order and visually sets out my week, which makes my planning so much quicker and easier. Likewise, if accounting is not your thing, then find software that can help you add up the numbers.
Know your highs and lows – you know when you feel you are most productive. The best way to feel more balanced is to start to work on the right things at the right time for you.
Be more business savvy – there are occasionally things that we cannot find an on-line tool to help us with; like photography, or modelling for our products and yet we really don’t want to do these things ourselves, or we simply aren’t good at them. Hire someone to do this for you or offer a fair reward trade (but don’t be disheartened if they say no).
Be realistic – sometimes we simply ask too much of ourselves, or we make things too complicated. Being realistic about the project at hand, your skills, your time and your well-being is important, because without you your business doesn’t exist, and that project doesn’t get finished.
Take a break – I spoke about this in episode 004. I recommend you go back and watch the podcast and read the bonus content, because taking regular breaks is important.
Get a business coach – We touched on this in episode 008 and I believe it’s a really important step that most business owners miss. Coasting on free on-line information, courses and eBooks can enlighten you, but there is a big difference between reading something and trying it, and choosing to have someone guide you through it. I know this not just because I see amazing results with my own coaching clients, but because I have taken on my own mentor to help me with a specific part of My Indie Life Blog, an aspect that I have little knowledge on (and it would take years to perfect!) Your business is worth the investment. If you don’t think it is, then maybe you don’t believe in it enough?! Maybe it’s time to move on.