With the convenience and flexibility that a home or mobile office provides, this time of ultra-connectivity can also mean that it’s almost impossible to create a clear separation between work and home.
Technology enables us to respond to emails as they arrive on our smart phones, often late into the night. It makes it hard to switch off completely, which can affect our quality of life in the times when we’re not meant to be working.
Here are my top tips on how to find the all-important balance between work and home time.
Spend just five minutes at the start of each day prioritising your tasks. It doesn’t have to be complicated, a simple ‘to do’ list is sufficient.
This will help you to work more proactively rather than reactively, highlight the things that are urgent, and reassess the not-so-important tasks. Mark off tasks as you complete them… there’s something extremely satisfying about ticking off the boxes!
Don’t be afraid to delegate
Once you’re in the routine of prioritising your work, delegate certain tasks to others. Be realistic – you can’t do it all – believe me, I’ve tried!
While your input may be required to oversee some tasks, delegating or outsourcing tasks means your focus can be turned to the important projects that need your full attention – the real nitty gritty stuff.
Done well, delegation is a win-win. If you work with a team, they will feel valued at the opportunity to take on new challenges, while you can move beyond the smaller details of your business, allowing it to grow.
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Play by the rules
Set yourself some hard-and-fast rules about what time you’ll leave the office (or what time you’ll check out of the home office), and how ‘contactable’ you’ll be at home. The reality is that sometimes you might have to work late… just don’t make it a habit. All work and no play isn’t good for anyone. Running a business can be stressful, but everyone needs down time to ensure you’re more productive during business hours.
Once your rules are set in place, commit to playing by them. If you can’t help yourself, put your phone in a drawer for an hour during dinner – or even better, turn it off.
Just say no
It’s important to remember that sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your business’s longevity is to say no to that additional project. If you’re already at capacity and struggling to keep that elusive work/life balance, then taking on another task is probably not the best idea.
If it’s a project you really want to be a part of, ask for help, shuffle your schedule around and delegate some of your work. Keep in mind that too much on your plate can mean important things fall by the wayside. As the saying goes, many troubles in this life stem from saying yes too quickly, and not saying no soon enough!
Learn to switch off
It’s a hard lesson to learn, but you don’t need to be contactable all the time. It’s okay to switch off every now and then. For me, Friday night is family time, so I leave my phone in my bag – on silent. Voicemail was created for a reason, and if it’s that important, they will call back.
Most people don’t expect a response to an email they sent at 10pm on a Friday night, nor should they. Don’t fall into the trap of responding during out-of-office times, it only creates unrealistic expectations. Be firm with yourself.
Get a hobby
Find yourself a hobby – you need to have fun in your own time! Whether it’s playing golf, cooking, joining a special interest club, wining and dining or just spending quality with your family, set aside some ‘me’ time.
Give yourself the time to achieve something non-work related. It’ll benefit your business interactions come Monday morning, and anything that helps you ease into the working week is a plus!
Do you find it hard to maintain a healthy work/life balance as a business owner? What are your tips for drawing the line between work and home?