Tips on how to get work-life balance right
Q I AM a business owner working very long hours in my business and would like this to change. How can I get the work-life balance right?
A Running a business can be stressful, because it's often hard to take time off or relax. But your business will run more smoothly if you manage to get a good work-life balance. Driving yourself and your employees too hard is not only dangerous and unhealthy, It's also an inefficient way to run a business. It stifles creativity and kills motivation.
If you want to get your work-life balance right, these lessons from science can help you make the most of your work time:
Don't force creativity: The creative parts of the human brain often kick into action when our attention is elsewhere - especially when we're relaxed or tired. That's why good ideas often "pop into our minds" overnight. The best way to solve a problem creatively is to concentrate on it for a while, then forget about it and relax.
Early riser or night owl?: Some people work better in the morning, others in the evening. There's little you can do to change this - but you can adapt to it. Ask yourself which type of person you are, and save the most challenging work for the time of day when you're at your mental peak.
Schedule your day sensibly: The afternoon lull, usually between 2pm and 4pm, is a bad time to do intensive intellectual work. That's true regardless of whether you're an early riser or a night owl. Unfortunately, taking a siesta or "power nap" at work might not send the right message to your employees. Use this period to get admin work completed instead.
Stress is good - in moderation: There's evidence that small amounts of stress from time to time may help our bodies stay in peak condition. However, long-term stress is bad for us, If you're permanently stressed by your work, this can be damaging to your health. Time to ease off.
FIVE PRACTICAL TIPS FOR BALANCING WORK WITH LIFE
1. Learn to delegate - The most successful business managers are those who can delegate the right work to the right people - and then let them get on with it.
2. Take all your holidays - Encourage your staff to do the same. Without a holiday, life can start to feel like being on a treadmill. That's no way to run a business.
3. Get regular medical check-ups - The warning signs of overwork will be clear for everyone to see - except you. Business owners tend to be blind to their own symptoms of stress because they're so wrapped up in their work. So get regular check-ups.
4. Stay healthy - Eat sensibly, avoid stimulants, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Keeping your body healthy will help your mind cope with the pressures of running your business.
5. Switch off - Learn how to switch off properly at the end of the day and at weekends too. Resist the urge to check your business email or log into your work systems out of hours.
REMEMBER WHY YOU ARE IN BUSINESS!
Think back to when you started your business, and ask yourself why you did it. Perhaps it was so you could have more independence, more money, greater intellectual challenge, or extra free time to spend with your family. Maybe it was all of those things.
Keep your goals in mind at all times, write them down and have them in a place where you can easily see and refer to them. This will make it easier to avoid work becoming an end in itself.