When you start a business, the pressure of making the business work may compel you to work 24/7. You are hungry for new business and you feel the strong urge to prove that your business idea works. More importantly, you need to get the business start earning some money – and fast.
As a result, you may find yourself working non-stop from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m, even answering emails during mealtime. During weekends, you may be on the phone with your clients, or meeting with them, if not writing reports for your business.
With products or services to deliver, clients to deal with, a business to maintain and income to generate, you find it so hard to unplug from the business. More so if you are working as a solo entrepreneur from your home.
However, balancing work and personal life is an important element in the success of a home-based business. Not working is just as important as working. You need to find some downtime to nurture other elements of your life, including your own personal self, your family, and relationships. Gabriela Chavez, Founder of BeautiesontheGo.com, explains
“First and foremost … always remember to take care of yourself. As women, we always tend give and give and we forget or just put off taking care of ourselves. We all have at least one thing that brings us personal peace and happiness. I definitely believe we should take the time to do at least that one thing. When we are feeling peaceful and happy it then helps simplify our lives and leads to helping balance the rest of our lives.”
Separating work from personal life is especially difficult for a home-based entrepreneur. Since you work in the same place where you live, it makes it harder to stop working and do something else. Switching from work mode to non-work mode is made more difficult as there’s no change in scenery, unlike say, when you’re working in a corporate office and drive home to your family at the end of the day.
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Sharifah Hardie, Professional Business Consultant and Radio Talk Show Host, offers this tip to how she separates her work from her personal life:
“My secret to maintaining balance in my life is setting boundaries. Even though I work from home full time my business hours are still 9 AM – 6 PM. I only take scheduled calls and meetings before and after these times. Any non-urgent calls or requests received outside of these times are handled the next business day. I make sure to allow time for me to unwind and spend time with my family. Initially when I made this change it felt overwhelming. I soon learned that most issues aren’t as initially urgent as they seem and don’t all have to be handled immediately. Setting boundaries across the board saved many hurt feelings when people didn’t receive an immediate response and it allows me time to analyze requests before immediately answering.”
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By setting boundaries between your business life and personal life, you are able to lower your stress levels and avoid burnout. As Lisa Kothari, Founder of the party planning business Peppers and Pollywogs explains:
“It’s important to find the balance so you don’t burnout. I try to start the day with some exercise, take some time off on the weekends to be with my family and explore other interests, and when I am away from my work, I consciously let my mind have the break. The balance is particularly important because if you are always engaged with it, things are hard to see from a fresh perspective.”
The best motivator to keep your business going strong, while ensuring you give time for your personal life, is often the family. For Bianca Whitfield, founder of accounting and financial consulting firm WhitGroup Consulting, one thing is clear: family comes first:
“My daughter is well-known at two of my client sites. When she was constantly sick, I packed her into the car with a trunk full of activities and we went to work together. I also work at bizarre hours so that I can focus on my daughter in the after-school hours. Clients usually get emails from me between 1 and 3 am. I am also building space into my schedule, which was missing before. If Kaiya has an activity at school, I’m always there. Period. I just shuffle my clients accordingly, knowing that I have a day or two that is open. It means so much to her to see her family there for her luau, recital, parade, or whatever the activity is! I would quit my job before I would miss these things! I also make sure she has the opportunity to explore her talents and abilities through lots of extracurricular activities, so I leave client sites early, pick her up, and we head to ballet, tap, soccer, tennis, swimming, etc. Being able to leave client sites early and then pick up on the work later that night has also been beneficial for me personally as I work through my second masters program. I wouldn’t be able to do it on a typical 9 am – 5 pm schedule.”
As a business owner, unplugging yourself from your business is very hard to do. Your business is always at the back of your head. However, it is something that you need to do. Balance is key in life, and you will only be good for your business if you lead a balanced life.
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