Is your business taking up too much of your time? 33% of small business owners admit to working 50 hours or more a week.
Spending too much time at work can all kind of negative consequences. Even if you enjoy your work, letting it take over your life could result in you neglecting household responsibilities or it could result in you spending little time with family causing a strain on your relationship.
It’s therefore important to find a balance. Whilst those that are employed can ask their employer to reduce their hours, those that are self-employed have to find other ways to manage their time and workload. If you currently feel you’re putting too much time into your business, here are a few tips that could help you to restore a healthy work-life balance.
Stop doing it all yourself
Most business owners spend too much time working because they refuse to delegate. Sharing out the load can help to free up time. There are many ways in which you can do this as a business owner.
The first is solution to delegate work to employees. Hiring full time employees can be expensive but sometimes it can be necessary. If your business is growing, you may not be able to handle all the admin on top of your job’s core tasks – this could be an ideal time to hire a personal assistant. If you’ve got a team of employees meanwhile, hiring an assistant manager could be useful, allowing someone else to manage your team so that you don’t always have to be there to lead.
If you can’t afford to hire full-time in-house employees, outsourcing tasks could be another option. This involves paying another company to take over tasks. Commonly outsourced tasks include marketing, accounting, recruitment and IT support, however it’s possible to outsource pretty much any task nowadays from answering business phone calls to printing and mailing newsletters.
You can also let software take over tasks. Automating tasks is one of the biggest ways to increase business efficiency. This could include using software to automatically manage bookkeeping, or using a CRM to automate your marketing. Not every task can be automated, but most time-consuming and repetitive tasks can be.
There are drawbacks to relinquishing responsibility of tasks. You need to be able to trust that the person/software will do as good (if not better) job as you. Recruiting, outsourcing and using software can also get expensive, so you need to be certain the cost is worth the convenience. If you can trust and afford to delegate tasks, you could find that you have much more time on your hands. Try to resist the temptation to spend this free time further growing your business – the whole point is to correct your work/life balance and not to spend this newfound free time adding to your workload.
Get into a work routine
An advantage of owning a business is being able to set your own hours and work flexibly. Many business owners wrongly use this flexibility to do away with routine. However, having a routine can help you to ensure that you have scheduled free time each week.
Even if it’s not a conventional nine to five working day, try to keep to set work hours. Have a cut off point every evening if you feel you need to spend more time with family. It could also be healthy to give yourself at least one day off per week in which you don’t do anything work related. This will help you to create a clear divide between your business and personal life.
Learn to say no
Learning the word ‘no’ is also important when keeping a work-life balance. Employees and clients may try to contact you in your free time – it’s important to set boundaries and not constantly be there for them. Similarly, try not to schedule meetings or interviews during hours which would usually be your free time – occasionally you may have to break from your routine, but this shouldn’t become a regular occurrence, otherwise there’s no point having a routine.
You also need to be able to say no when it comes to taking on more work. If you keep taking on more than you can comfortably handle, you’ll be forcing yourself to borrow hours from your free time. Accepting all the work you can get may be good for your business, but it won’t be good for you.
Get a separate work phone
Using the same phone for business and personal use could also be damaging your work life-balance. It could mean that you’re constantly reachable to clients and employees, and therefore unable to get away from work. Even if you choose to ignore these contacts – they’ll always be there.
By having a separate work phone, you can keep your business contacts separate. It also gives you the option to physically switch off from business mode – when you’re not at work you can simply turn off your work phone and get a break.
There can be other aspects of your business and personal life worth separating too in order to make the distinction. If you work from home, having a designated space to use as your office could help you to physically separate yourself from your business. You can also legally and financially separate your business – setting up a business bank account and switching to a limited company can stop business debts affecting your personal finances.