How to ‘Start-Up’ Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

The life of an entrepreneur is a constant juggling act. From ongoing brainstorming sessions to client meetings, it is often difficult to make time for family, friends, let alone yourself. Unfortunately, this uninterrupted focus on work can often lead to burnout, deteriorating relationships, and even an increased risk of stroke. As a result, it’s important to redefine success in a way that prioritizes life outside of your entrepreneurial venture, striking the perfect balance between your personal and professional pursuits. This work-life balance can be challenging to attain, but here are five simple changes to implement that will set you on the right path.

ONE: Reintroduce the word “no” to your vocabulary

Entrepreneurs tend to compile to-do lists that may start comparing in length to encyclopedias. This is ultimately a consequence of the endless tasks that come with establishing a business as well as the entrepreneurial mindset to take on as much as possible in 24 hours. While this may seem productive and important to outdistance potential competitors, eliminating the word “no” from your vocabulary may backfire in the long run. The eventual burnout from pleasing others is inevitable and the jam-packed schedule that follows will hinder your ability to put your best foot forward. It is important to remain ambitious and build professional relationships, but automatically agreeing to every request that comes your way will ultimately harm your chances of achieving a better work-life balance.

Advice from the Accomplished:

“The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say no to almost everything.” ― Warren Buffet, American business magnate and investor

TWO: Schedule and plan ahead

The big picture mindset of your stereotypical entrepreneur may result in chaotic daily schedules and overall disorganization. To establish a personal and professional balance, investing in an agenda to plan your days in advance can be an effective approach. This scheduling method will allow you to better compartmentalize the various aspects of your life and devote time to your previously disregarded pursuits. Whether it be attending your daughter’s soccer game or fitting in a workout, this think-ahead strategy provides busy entrepreneurs with a more structured framework for their lives. Commitment to this your scheduled timetable leads to better productivity, less procrastination, and overall success.

Advice from the Accomplished:

“Plan your work for today and every day, then work your plan.” ― Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

THREE: Trust to delegate

The act of delegating is essential for time management, yet it can be off-putting for entrepreneurs who strive for excellence and perfection. Many believe that it is more efficient to complete a long list of tasks themselves since it circumvents unnecessary training and correcting another’s mistakes. While this may be the case in the short run, exhaustion and overburden are inevitable consequences of undertaking every job. 

To make assigning tasks easier, invest in a team of trusted individuals who you know will produce high-quality work on time. A dependable support system, not only at work but also at home, is necessary to make work-life balance possible. Use this team to your advantage without forgetting to showcase an appreciation for their constant efforts. As you build confidence in this group, you will find yourself with shorter to-do lists and more time to dedicate to your loved ones, hobbies, and health.

Advice from the Accomplished:

“No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit.” ― Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist

FOUR: Communicate if you must compromise

Unexpected meetings or family emergencies will require compromise and last-minute changes of plan. The occasional curveball in a perfectly planned schedule is bound to occur and can be frustrating for task-oriented entrepreneurs. When you do need to miss a school pick-up or lunch with a prospective client, take the time to clearly communicate and explain the circumstances to those around you. This transparency and regard for others are necessary keys to unlocking healthy relationships in both your personal and professional life. While work-life balance is equally difficult to maintain as it is to attain, active communication in the face of compromise will keep you on track.

Advice from the Accomplished:

“Communication makes the world go round. It facilitates human connections, and allows us to learn, grow, and progress. It’s not just about speaking or reading, but understanding what is being said — and in some cases what is not being said.” ― Richard Branson, English business magnate and investor

FIVE: Always be present

The high-powered mind of an entrepreneur gives in to the dangerous habit of multitasking. While sending off a work email in the middle of a family game night may seem efficient at the time, attempting to be in two places at once will not benefit those seeking better work-life balance. 

To further illustrate the drawbacks of multitasking, recent research has shown that this juggling act can damage one’s anterior cingulate cortex, a brain region associated with emotional intelligence (EQ). In turn, a high EQ is one of the most important traits for leaders and entrepreneurs to demonstrate. As a result, it is best to be productive at work and fully appreciate your downtime at home. To implement this in practice, consider designating different areas of your home as “work” and “fun” spots or maybe even take a 15-minute walk before heading home to center your focus.

Advice from the Accomplished:

“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgemental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work” ― Wayne Dyer, American self-help and spiritual author, also known as the “Father of Motivation”

It takes ambition, hard work, and tenacity to bring any vision to fruition, especially in the form of an established business. Unfortunately, these virtues can meld into a double-edged sword when it comes to striking work-life balance. However, it is possible to redirect this passion and channel these qualities towards a simultaneous care for a growing venture as well as your personal aspirations. With these easy-to-implement tactics in mind, we are confident that you will find success in uncovering some life in a pile of work.