In the never-ending quest for work-life balance, everyone seems to have a different solution. But now that remote work is the reality for so many professionals, balancing work and life seems more difficult than ever.
We asked a bunch of entrepreneurs how they have managed work-life balance in their careers so far, and they offered some tips that could help us perform this balancing act for ourselves.
How many times have you pushed yourself beyond office hours to get something done, even though that wasn’t part of the plan? In the work-from-home era, it’s far too common.
“Keeping track of your schedule and setting boundaries can help you maintain a work-life balance,” said Brandon Kim, Co-Founder and Head of Creative and Strategy at Brevite. “For example, after you know you’re done with all your work that day and conclude all meetings, find something to do after work as a ritual to get in the mode of home life, especially if you work from home. It can be easy to continue thinking about work after the day is done, but finding something else to focus on for a bit can ease you back into regular life. This way, you can come back into your work the next day with fresh eyes.”
Learn to set boundaries for yourself, and with others, if you want to achieve that ideal balance.
Many people start businesses to support their family and give a better life to the people they love most. Unfortunately, they sometimes miss the most important moments of family life as a result, so never forget where your priorities lie.
“I am grateful for the opportunity I have had in the last year to be home with my family while continuing to work,” said Tyler Boyd, Co-Founder and CEO of Squeeze. “I have learned that separating my work schedule from my family and life schedule is an important tactic for balancing both. I prioritize my time between meetings and projects to make lunch for my family or take a walk around my neighborhood.”
Quality time is important with family and friends, but now and again, quantity matters too.
Time Off, For Real
When was the last time you had a few days off in a row? We mean real days off, with no email, no meetings, no quick check-ins with the office. Not such an easy question to answer, right?
“Set aside time for family, friends and self-care,” said David DiLorenzo, President of Valentino Beauty Pure. “You have hired people to help you out, you must trust them to do their job well now. Truly take that time off so that you are able to rest, relax, and find joy outside of work. As long as you have taken the time to find the team and train that team, then you will be able to take a break. Your team is key to maintaining a healthy work-life balance.”
With a team you trust at the controls, it’s so much more relaxing to really take a well-deserved break from the office.
2020 was a wild ride for everyone, and many of us are still getting used to the lifestyle of remote work. Business leaders should be accommodating of employee needs and requirements as we all continue to make this big shift.
“Learning to adjust to the needs of the team as everyone is navigating an appropriate and productive work-life balance,” said Brent Sanders, CEO of Wicksly. “Working from home, our team now has different responsibilities they have to juggle along with their daily work assignments. The leaders have had to acknowledge the impact this significant life change we have all made and to learn how to accommodate. We allow our team members to create their boundaries so we can structure what we can ask of everyone to operate at optimal efficiency while considering the personal lives of our employees.”
It’s definitely worth retaining employees you like and trust, so don’t let them go just because of some minor turbulence.
Nobody is immune to burnout, not even the most diligent and resilient entrepreneurs in the world. We all need to rest, recharge, and be smart about our work habits so that we stay healthy and on track with our long-term goals.
“Listen to your body!” said Jo Parenteau, Co-Founder and CEO of Fable Home. “Like most people, I value the hard work that I do for my company, but I always take time to relax. Scheduling personal time in your day or week is an important task to ensure you are resting your mind and focusing on your own wellbeing.”
Learn to pinpoint the signals of burnout and you’ll avoid it more easily.
Don’t Make the Same Mistake
Everyone slips up now and again. We work too hard, we don’t work hard enough, or we miss out on moments in our personal lives that we can’t get back.
“To maintain a healthy work-life balance entrepreneurs must learn from their mistakes,” said Alex Czarnecki, CEO of Cottage. “It’s inevitable that you will make mistakes, so learn from them and grow. When a mistake is made, get to the root of the problem and figure out a solution right away so that you can restore a healthy balance.”
Mistakes happen, so bounce back as a better, smarter version of you.
Learn to Say No
When you’re starting a company – or just working hard at a normal job – you sometimes feel obligated to carry a ton of weight on your shoulders, even if it’s causing you stress and impacting performance. Sometimes, no is the best word you can say.
“A key to maintaining a healthy balance in work and life is to say no – and keep saying no,” said John Levisay, CEO of The Pro’s Closet. “It can be alluring to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way, but if you wish to float and not drown then you must learn to say no. Saying yes to every opportunity will only lead to burnout and failure. Saying no is healthy for you and your success in your entrepreneurial endeavors.”
You can decline projects or responsibilities without being rude, so don’t worry about that.
Build a Lifestyle
Speak to top business leaders in every industry, and they are all big proponents of lifestyle design. Their choices are very deliberate, and each day is a coordinated balancing act.
“Work-life balance is essential for everyone, but especially for entrepreneurs,” said Ajay Mehta, CEO of Birthdate. “This can be hard to achieve as an entrepreneur because you must be the driving force behind everything, but it is possible. Try building your lifestyle into your brand. If you build this into your business then it will be easier for you to live and work in a healthy way and achieve your dreams. Also be sure to focus on a healthy equilibrium. Realize that it’s not going to be an equal 50/50, but that it will all balance out in the end.”
You are the architect of your life, so take control and set it up the way you want.
Ask for Help
Independence is at the core of every great business project, but you won’t make it very far without a trustworthy team in your corner.
“In order to keep a good work-life balance do not try to do it all alone,” said Tri Nguyen, CEO of Network Capital. “While you are a jack of all trades as an entrepreneur, it’s important to know your limitations and ask for help. Focus on your zone of expertise and hire others to take care of other areas. This will allow you to have success and maintain a good work-life balance.”
Hiring is one of the trickier parts of entrepreneurship, but the right choices can make your life so much more easy and enjoyable.
Restore Energy Levels
Nothing in this world can be accomplished without energy, so manage your energy levels throughout the day and be sure to replenish them in your off-hours.
“There has been a long-standing stigma associated with taking time away from work to focus on yourself,” said Lo Bosworth, Founder and CEO of Love Wellness. “You earned your paid time off, so use it! If I am noticing my energy levels are low for a few days in a row, I like to get my affairs in order at work to prepare for a self-care day off. This helps me focus on my inner thoughts and rebalance my emotions.”
TV marathons and late-night parties are fun, but they don’t necessarily restore energy!
Check in with Workers
It isn’t easy to read the room when all of your employees are working from home, but do your best to check in with people on your team to see where they are at in terms of balance.
“In order to avoid burnout from your employees, it’s important to make sure a healthy-work life balance is met, so they are more productive and energized in their work,” said Eddie Huai, CEO of Luna Blanket. “Encouraging employees to have practices of self-care to ensure they are prioritizing their health along with work is also a good idea, particularly with the added stress from the world.”
Sometimes, just a quick check-in is exactly what people need to get back on track.
We live in a world with so many conveniences and comforts, so staying fit and healthy isn’t always easy, especially when your living room is also your office.
Do your best to motivate employees to take care of themselves, because you want them around for the long haul.
“Research shows about 80% of employees lack the intrinsic motivation to prioritize their personal wellness,” said Roy Ferman, CEO of Seek Capital. “Given the present and precarious circumstances, most of us are staying indoors and our responsibilities have changed. Naturally we forget to take time to care for ourselves and put our all into our jobs so offering an apt wellness program could include coaching or mentorship that will help encourage and uplift your team members.”
Consider wellness programs an investment in your most important business assets – your employees.
Health is No. 1
During the craziness of 2020, we all let our health slip a bit. However, now that the dust has settled, it’s time to get back on track in terms of health and wellness.
“Making your health a priority and setting goals within it is a great way to make time for life outside of work,” said Jeff Goodwin, Sr. Director of Performance Marketing and Ecommerce at Orgain. “After all, in order to maintain productivity and be successful at work, it’s important to focus on your health as well. This can start with making it a priority to eat and plan healthy meals and snacks throughout your day that fit your needs so you remain energized and productive. Setting goals and keeping track of progress can also make it part of your day to work on different means of health and wellness.”
Getting back into healthy habits takes time and effort, but the results are undeniably worth it.
Are you the type of person who checks messages and emails without even really thinking about it? These are unconscious habits ingrained in our muscle memory, and we need to be more aware of our actions to achieve better balance.
“It is easy to keep your mind working throughout the day by periodically checking your emails or updating projects, but this can be strenuous on your work-life balance,” said Michael Waxman, Co-Founder and CEO of Sundays for Dogs. “When it is time to stop working, close down your computer and switch off your work-mode.”
If you need to shut down your tech devices at the end of the day, that might help you snap out of work mode when the time is right.
Why did you start a business in the first place, or why do you want to start one in the near future? Presumably, you want to live a more fulfilling and exciting life, but that doesn’t mean you can compromise on the most important priorities.
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit – and you’re keeping all of these in the air,” said Bryan Dyson, Former CEO of Coca-Cola. “You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
Before you dive headfirst into your next venture, make your priorities crystal clear so that you never find yourself in a crisis of balance.
Be Clear with Coworkers
Thanks to constant connectivity and smartphone culture at work, some people have trouble disconnecting from the office. It’s important to clarify boundaries with those around you, especially if you need some real time off.
“As an entrepreneur and CEO it’s difficult for me to completely disengage from work when I take vacation time, so I’ll let leadership know that I am reachable for business emergencies or updates on the PR front,” said Chris Vaughn, CEO of Emjay. “We have a crisis management plan in place, but I need to know that the team is still following the proper procedures. If I or the company is mentioned in the media, I also prefer to stay informed. I tie up loose ends with any partner meetings to make sure leadership has no management issues with product inventory, delivery, and even web and app development.”
Being on call is just part of the entrepreneur lifestyle, so that’s a choice you’ll need to make for yourself.
You never know when you might get inspired, especially when you’re working on a business of your own. Be open to sparks of inspiration, even if you’re technically off the clock.
“In the creative industry, work can easily be blurred with life outside of work, as people are constantly looking for inspiration for their next project. It can be easy to get bogged down in that mentality,” said Cody Iverson, CEO of VisCap Media. “Many creatives find that sometimes, their best ideas come when they least expect it, like in the shower or hanging out with friends. Understanding how work-life balance can also improve your work, even when you’re not working, is a valuable thing to learn early in entrepreneurship.”
When you can seamlessly flow in and out of work mode without issue, that’s a great sign of progress.
Commit to the Moment
When you’re working, you’re working. When you’re cooking food or hitting the gym, those activities deserve your full attention, too. Of course, when you’re having fun on a night out, don’t be thinking about work at all!
“There will always be tradeoffs when it comes to work-life balance, and there’s no getting around that fact,” said Aidan Cole, Co-Founder of Nailboo. “The best thing you can do is be 100% focused on the task in front of you and not wish you were somewhere else, doing something else at that time.”
Living in the moment is truly a secret to satisfaction in every area of life, so always be present.
Business leaders not only need to be the masters of work-life balance in their own domain, but also set an example for the rest of the people within their organizations. That’s a lot to handle.
“I believe a balanced life is essential, and I try to make sure that all of our employees know that and live that way,” said Marc Benioff, Founder and CEO of Salesforce. “It’s crucial to me as a manager that I help ensure that our employees are as successful as our customers and partners. I also think that employees these days expect less of a separation of work and personal life. That doesn’t mean that work tasks should encroach upon our personal time, but it does mean that employees today expect more from the companies for whom they work.”
When you set clear expectations and discuss things like balance with workers, everyone feels more comfortable and performs better overall.
It’s no coincidence that so many leading entrepreneurs also live super healthy lifestyles. They need quality nutrition, sleep, and stress management techniques to stay at the top of their game.
“Finding time for daily habits that you enjoy outside of work is great for making sure your work-life balance remains healthy,” said Bill Wells, Co-Founder and Head of Operations and Finance at Wild One. “It’s easy as an entrepreneur to want to work long hours all the time (which is still necessary sometimes) but it should not always be the go-to to avoid burnout. Selecting certain habits and making them part of your daily routine will help with making both work and regular life a priority.”
While it’s impossible to be perfectly healthy 100% of the time, investments (time and money) in your own health are never wasted – that’s for sure.
No More FOMO
It’s one of the worst parts of our social-media-driven culture: the fear of missing out can drive anyone mad! Be aware when FOMO strikes and do your best to avoid this feeling, since it never leads anywhere good.
“Everyone experiences a bit of fear of missing out now and then, and that’s normal,” said Dr. Zachary Okhah, Founder and Chief Surgeon at PH-1 Miami. “The key is to be so dedicated to your goals that you minimize that feeling and stay focused on what must be done.”
Saying no to FOMO is easier said than done, but it becomes easier with time and experience.
Set Higher Standards
We all have 24 hours in a day, and even though we spend around eight hours fast asleep, that still leaves us with plenty of time to do everything we need to succeed and still have some fun when our work is done.
“I have noticed that there is a lot of work that goes into refining your daily life,” said Tirzah Shirai, Founder and CEO of BlinkBar. “Not only do you have to ensure you are physically present for your children, you also must be emotionally invested in that quality time you spend with them. I view success in life to be a healthy balance of career, family, health, and friends- I put quality time into all of these components to lead a successful work-life balance.”
At the end of the day, the key to a perfect work-life balance will be found through experience and your own personal efforts. Still, these tips from proven entrepreneurs can help you make smarter choices and help you strike that healthy balance at last.