How To Find Work-Life Balance As A Young Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur, one of the hardest parts of my job is maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Like most of us, I have hobbies outside the office and a great group of friends and family that I enjoy spending time with. So, why is it so difficult to draw the line between work time and personal time?
One of the traits that sets entrepreneurs apart is the mentality that’s needed to grow a company. It takes a great deal of motivation, perseverance and commitment to move the needle forward, overcome setbacks and reach success. That often means staying late at the office when your co-workers are going out or working on weekends when you would rather unplug.
Entrepreneurs thrive on hustle culture — it’s what keeps them going when times are tough. But it can also quickly lead to burnout and even mental health issues if the problem isn’t addressed early on. That’s why work-life balance is so important for entrepreneurs. You need to find a way to stay driven, while also making time for yourself, the things you enjoy and the people close to you.
What are the dangers of a work-life imbalance?
Work-life balance is somewhat of a trending topic these days, especially as remote work becomes more widely accepted. Researchers have also been evaluating the impact of work-life balance for a while now. I found one study to be especially eye-opening.
A study published in the European Heart Journal examined the risk of atrial fibrillation in people who worked more than 55 hours per week, compared to those who worked 35-40 hours per week. The researchers studied over 85,000 working men and women around age 43, and 10 years in, more than 1,000 of those people had developed new cases of atrial fibrillation.
After the study concluded, the researchers determined that people who worked over 55 hours per week were 1.4 times more likely to get atrial fibrillation than people who worked fewer hours. Atrial fibrillation is a commonly diagnosed type of heart disease that is known to lead to stroke, heart failure and certain types of dementia.
Another powerful study in the Journal of Personnel Psychology followed a group of over 2,000 high-school graduates throughout their lives and interviewed them regularly on their education, occupations and emotional experiences. When researchers followed up with the group in 2011, the people who spent their lives working in stressful job environments were over 15% more likely to have died than people who reported having a sense of control at their jobs.
Here are three tips for better work-life balance.
Entrepreneurs tend to get stuck in a place of thinking about work 24/7, and they forget to come up for air. When you’re so immersed in work around the clock, it can be difficult to notice that you’re neglecting your work-life balance. Most of the time, you don’t notice until it’s too late and you’re already feeling tired, unmotivated and burned out.
Here are some tips for creating a work-life balance that will allow you to work hard, but also enjoy time away from the office.
1. Create boundaries.
Plain and simple, start by creating work boundaries for yourself. Make a rule that you won’t check your email before 7 a.m. or after 7 p.m. If you work in an office, try to create a consistent schedule for yourself, whether it be 9 to 5, 10 to 6, or whatever hours work best for you.
If you know you’ll need to work late for an after-hours meeting or phone call, allow yourself to go into the office a little later in the morning that day. Tell your co-workers about the rules you’ve set for yourself so they can help keep you accountable.
2. Schedule personal time.
If you’re having trouble tearing yourself away from work, try scheduling personal time on your calendar. If you make plans after work with friends, block the time on your calendar as you would any other meeting. It also helps to get reminders throughout the day so you’re not tempted to work through your plans.
Another idea is to use your lunch break to go to the gym, get coffee with a friend or run errands you’ve been putting off. Getting out of the office midday is a great way to recharge and improve your productivity for the afternoon.
3. Get comfortable saying no.
Many entrepreneurs have a hard time saying no to things, whether it’s taking on additional work, traveling to a conference or accepting a last-minute keynote invitation. While capitalizing on new opportunities can do wonders for your business, it’s a one-way ticket to burnout if you’re not careful.
You know how much work is already on your plate, so only take on more if you can make it happen without getting stressed. When someone asks you to do more work and it immediately invokes anxiety, that’s a good sign that you should probably pass.
Being an entrepreneur and getting to work for yourself is an incredible experience, but like any job, it comes with its fair share of challenges. Having the skills to manage those challenges — including establishing your work-life balance — is the key to growing and managing a successful business.