It’s easy to get sucked into working very long days when you’re running a business. Hands up, yes I’m guilty! But it’s worth taking a moment to think about productivity and your work-life balance. By working every hour under the sun are you actually gaining anything? Does working longer hours equal greater output? Are you ticking those items off your to-do-list any faster, and putting out your best work?
I suspect not. It’s funny how we’re able to expand a task to fill the time available.
Let’s take writing this short post as an example. If I have two hours to write this post, I can fill those two hours easily.
Okay, I might spend most of my time researching my topic and maybe getting distracted by messages. There’s that interesting piece that bears no relation to my subject, I need to check with a friend about running tonight, take a quick look at Facebook…
If I just have 25 minutes, well it’s a different story. The pressure is on, the adrenaline is flowing and guess what? I can write this post in 25 minutes. Is my two-hour effort any better? Maybe, maybe not.
It’s not just concentration that’s the issue. If I’m in the zone, I can concentrate intently for long periods of time. It’s a terrific skill for cramming for exams, writing a Masters thesis or hitting a report deadline. The issue is, working for long hours really intensely every day is a fast track to burn out.
Yep burn out.
You’ve seen those people. Sunken-eyed, full of colds, their favourite saying is “I’m so stressed”. They work long hours but never seem to quite finish anything. Maybe I’m describing you!
Finding your work-life balance.
Your body and mind need some downtime – time to recover and replenish. A good work-life balance isn’t just a fanciful whim, it’s an essential ingredient of good health AND productivity. Taking a break, getting some exercise, meeting up with friends, provides much-needed relief to an overactive brain.
In that downtime, your brain can still be churning away in the background. Mulling over your work. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve solved a work problem when I’m halfway round a run.
With a good work-life balance, you’re setting yourself up for the long haul. Running a successful business doesn’t happen overnight. You need to be in good shape, rested, full of positive energy to survive long term.
How do I achieve a good work-life balance?
- Plan your week. Set aside chunks of time to exercise, meet with friends, take short breaks and eat properly.
- Ideally, make the weekends work free. It may not be possible starting out but aim to make this your goal. You need some work-free days to recharge and return to work full of enthusiasm.
- Give your time-out equal priority. You wouldn’t miss an important meeting. So why would you miss a meal or the exercise your body needs?
- Learn to work smarter not harder. Outsource, delegate to staff (if you have them), take on a virtual assistant, work on the essential tasks rather than try to do everything. Turn off instant notifications from social media and emails.
How will you know if it’s working? If the steps you’re taking are helping you achieve the work-life balance you want?
Give yourself a regular audit. Set aside 15 minutes every week to look at what’s working, where you could do better and think through your priorities. Those 15 minutes could really make a difference…