This past weekend was Mother’s Day, and our family enjoyed some quality time together. Although our kids are grown adults, we still enjoy getting together to go on adventures, play games, and dine together. We did all three of those things for Mother’s Day, and it was wonderful. As I reflect back on the weekend, I was reminded of one of the main reasons I started my business 20 years ago – to be able to spend more time with family and have a better work-life balance. Have I achieved that?
Let’s consider what work-life balance even means. To me, it means a harmony between one’s professional or work-related commitments and responsibilities and their personal life – including family, leisure activities, health, and personal well-being. Work-life balance is the ability to effectively manage time and energy between work-related pursuits and personal activities to achieve overall satisfaction in both.
Achieving work-life balance is subjective and varies for each individual based on their personal values, priorities, and circumstances. For some, it may mean spending more time with family and loved ones, pursuing hobbies and interests, or taking care of physical and mental health. For others, it may involve maintaining a flexible work schedule, having clear boundaries between work and personal life, or having the freedom to pursue personal goals and passions outside of work.
There are some who say that work-life balance is a myth and that it’s impossible to find true balance since life is in flux. They maintain that the hopeless quest to find perfect balance causes stress. Guilt associated with what we think we should be doing to maintain balance can create anxiety. Indeed, anxiety and stress are part of life, but I don’t think that means we should dispense with the concept of balance. The very word “balance” means to put something in a position so that it doesn’t fall, and I think we all try to do that – some better than others.
So, yes, I do believe in work-life balance, and here are some reasons why I think it’s important:
Personal Well-being: Striking a balance between work and personal life promotes physical and mental well-being. It reduces stress, burnout, and fatigue, leading to improved overall health and happiness.
Enhanced Productivity: Taking time for personal activities and self-care rejuvenates people, improves focus, and enhances productivity when they are working. Rested and energized individuals are more motivated and efficient.
Relationships: Work-life balance nurtures relationships with family, friends, and loved ones. Spending quality time with loved ones strengthens bonds and contributes to emotional well-being.
Avoiding Burnout: Imbalance and excessive work can lead to burnout, a state of chronic physical and emotional exhaustion. Maintaining work-life balance helps prevent burnout and its negative effects on health and performance.
Retention and Engagement: Organizations that support work-life balance are more likely to attract and retain talented employees. Employees who feel supported in balancing their personal and professional lives are more engaged and loyal.
It is a simple fact of being a small business owner that I’m rarely not thinking of my business. Even if I’m not physically working on business tasks when the office is closed, I’m often thinking about my work. I love what I do and am constantly thinking about work. Yet, doing that means I’m “always on,” and it’s mentally exhausting. One coping mechanism that I have is to write things down as they pop into my head. In that way, I have a “parking lot” of tasks and ideas to handle later, freeing up my brain to do other non-working things.
Here are some other ideas on how to pursue a better work-life balance:
- Prioritize and set boundaries: Determine your priorities and allocate time accordingly. Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life and communicate them to others. I freely give out my cell phone number but also ask people to respect my time off – most people do, and I appreciate that.
- Delegate and outsource: Learn to delegate tasks that can be handled by others, whether it’s hiring employees, outsourcing specific activities, or leveraging technology. We live in an age where it’s easier than ever to delegate tasks to other people, companies, or even AI. Use that when needed.
- Practice self-care: Make time for activities that promote physical and mental well-being, such as exercise, hobbies, relaxation techniques, and spending time with loved ones. In a previous article, I talked about going outside to enjoy nature and how relaxing that is for me. How do you relax?
- Maintain a flexible schedule: If possible, have a flexible work schedule that allows for better integration of personal activities and commitments.
- Utilize technology: Leverage technology tools and apps to manage tasks, streamline processes, and improve efficiency, freeing up time for personal pursuits. One way I do this is to ensure my phone, laptop, and tablet are all synchronized. That allows me to access things conveniently when I need to, although sometimes I do need to remember not to constantly access work files.
- Disconnect: Establish periods of complete disconnection from work, such as weekends or vacations, to recharge and focus on personal activities without interruptions. This is hard to do when you’re a solo entrepreneur, but it’s not impossible. Get a colleague or family member to keep an eye on things during your vacation. If you’ve grown your business to the point where you have employees, let them keep an eye on the store while you’re away.
- Seek support and collaboration: Build a support network of colleagues, friends, and family who can provide assistance, guidance, and emotional support when needed. As business owners and leaders, we’re constantly there for other people. Who’s there for you?
Remember, work-life balance is a personal journey, and it may require trial and error to find what works best for you. Regular evaluation and adjustments are crucial to ensure that your work and personal life remain in harmony, allowing you to lead a fulfilling and meaningful life. It’s been said that we “live to work” and “work to live.” How do you balance your work with everyday living?
[Joe Domaleski, a Fayette County resident for 25 years, is the owner of Country Fried Creative – an award-winning digital marketing agency located in Peachtree City. His company was the Fayette Chamber’s 2021 Small Business of the Year. Joe is a husband, father of three grown children, and proud Army veteran. He has an MBA from Georgia State University and enjoys sharing his perspectives drawing from thirty years of business leadership experience. ]