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As an entrepreneur growing a small business, it’s hard to take a step back, turn off your devices, and just… Relax.
But striking work-life balance, meaning putting your work responsibilities on hold to attend to your personal responsibilities, is crucial to your well-being—and your business’s. Most importantly, proper work-life balance can help you avoid burnout and keep your productivity and motivation going strong.
Need some work-life balance tips to help you know when to take a break from your business? Well, the best advice comes from people who are in the exact same boat as you are.
So we asked entrepreneurs just like you: How do you find work-life balance with your busy schedule?
Here’s what they had to say.
“First, I create hard stops around when I work and when I’m not working, and I honor that schedule. I block out time for self-care like I would a client. By doing this, I prioritize my relationship with myself above my relationship with anyone else—which allows me to be the best version of me when I am connecting with and helping others through my business… Remember that the better you take care of yourself, the better you will be able to take care of everything else in your life.”
– Catherine Wood, founder and executive life coach of Unbounded Potential, LLC
“There are a number of things small business owners can do to stay healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually. Connect with people outside the office. Stay connected with the community—where you live and work. Do something just for you. Go ahead, splurge. Delegate tasks—you hired great people. Let them take your business to the next level. Keep learning—go to seminars, webinars, read or listen to books and blog posts… Whatever works for you. Be a mentor and a teacher for your team and others in your community. Set measurable goals so that you can have the joy of checking off the box when something is done.”
– Blair Koch, CEO of The Alternative Board – Denver West
“Bulk your redundant tasks into chunks of time. This type of little tasks, like replying to support questions, can come in at all times of the day, and if you try to reply to each one as they come in, you’ll barely get anything else done. Slot out time each week and only do that task during that time frame… After applying this trick to two or three items on my schedule, I feel like my productivity is boosted at work, giving me more time for personal things. And even more, my mind feels less cluttered, letting me enjoy my personal time.”
– Melissa Gosse, co-founder of WeRaven
“Make sure that you’re taking breaks throughout the day. This can seem counterintuitive, but at least one break in the morning and afternoon helps keep you focused. And finally, consider outsourcing some of your work… When you lessen your work load, balancing that against your personal life becomes that much easier.”
– Andrew Schrage, CEO of Money Crashers
“If you keep track of the time you spend on your daily tasks, you’ll most likely realize that close to 80% of them are a waste of time! As an entrepreneur, you want to focus on the tasks that provide the most value to the company and slash out the other ones. Because we care about our businesses, we tend to occupy ourselves with busywork even when it doesn’t bring any value. Recognize and cut out these tasks and you’ll find yourself with a lot more free time.”
– Joe Brusca, owner of Bathvault.com
“Don’t do everything yourself: Your friends, your classmates, and your family all have certain skills that could be of use… Or, find a co-founder. Many founders can build businesses on their own. However, if you find a co-founder with complementary skills and perspectives, it will help you be more efficient—two heads are better than one. Finally, make sure there are activities outside of work that you consider must-do. For example, if you go to the gym every Monday for one hour, you should block that time off in your calendar!”
– Zoe Vu, co-founder of Pass the Keys
“Ultimately, hiring smart people who can run the business effectively in my absence allows me to spend more time with family and take vacations. That’s why hiring the right people is so important. Otherwise, you end up sacrificing self-care in an effort to keep the business afloat and can burn out in the process. Designing our company culture around a true belief in work-life balance has helped out a lot. When my employees see me leave the office at 5 p.m. and don’t receive a ton of emails from me over the week, they feel more comfortable unplugging during their time off, too.”
– Luke Knowles, CEO and founder of Kinoli and Coupon Sherpa
“On a weekday, I’ll do three increments of two to four hours of work. In between, I’ll do something active or social so that when I start more work, I’m refreshed and ready to go. I don’t work when people think I should work. I work when I’m most alert and I produce my best work.”
– Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore
“Protect your schedule and respect your time… Others will do the same. When possible, schedule your time with customers and potential customers well ahead, and thoughtfully. Don’t hesitate to explain to prospective customers that you want to give them your full attention and support, and then offer windows of time that you can be available to meet. When your availability or schedule appears too open, customers may think you don’t have other clients or obligations—and therefore they can reschedule at the last minute or run late to appointments. If you don’t start off on the right foot, you can directly impact time with family.”
– Stacy Lindenberg, owner of Talent Seed Consulting, LLC
“Prioritize. All small business owners should have a clear vision of values and goals that are meaningful to them. Be productive. Evaluate times of optimal productivity and do the three most important tasks each day. And finally, go with the flow. Entrepreneurs do not have superpowers. Work may have to take the back-burner to other life events, and that’s okay. It all goes back to priorities. Ask for outside help if needed—outsourcing inside or outside your business can be a saving grace.”
– Deborah Meyer, CEO of WorthyNest
“The idea of achieving balance is two-fold. First, you need to make sure that one aspect of your life doesn’t eclipse all others. Second is the idea of being present—both in your personal life when you’re trying to enjoy some activity, and in your professional life when you’re trying to work and be productive… Sometimes we sabotage our own work-life balance. For example, if you’re checking your email on Sunday, work isn’t invading your personal life—you’re inviting it in.”
– Maura Thomas, author, speaker, and time management consultant
“One of the things that has helped me with work-life balance is realizing that enjoying my time away from work is what allows me to stay laser-focused while I’m at the office. It’s not about the number of hours you sit at your computer, it’s about the number of quality hours you spend working with 100% of your focus. It takes repeated practice to crush that feeling and accept that enjoying time off is good for your mental health. Besides, what’s the point of making money if it doesn’t allow you time off to enjoy life?”
– Ryan McGrotty, co-owner of Rep Fitness
“The hard part is not letting your business life overwhelm your personal life. There will always be some crossover—that’s the nature of being an entrepreneur, but there are ways to keep yourself centered. One way is to actively participate in outside interests. Find interests that have nothing to do with your business and make time for them every week. As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to burn out from the intense focus on your business. Outside interests combat this.”
– Will von Bernuth, co-founder of Block Island Organics
“Schedule calls in advance and avoid giving out your cell phone. Create boundaries that support your best work and life. The key to this is knowing yourself really well—what energizes you versus what drains you.”
– Elizabeth Potts Weinstein, small business attorney
“Take one full weekend day off. We’re all tempted to “catch up” or “get ahead” on items. However, give yourself a chance to relax, recharge, and connect with family and friends. Another tip is to block out one hour at the end of the week to review the prior week and plan for your coming week. Priorities change quickly in small businesses. This is a great way to make sure that nothing gets dropped along the way and show your progress on items. Knowing what my coming week looks like helps me enjoy a day or two off over the weekend.”
– Kris Pennella, founder of Ideate Co
“Find a sport or hobby that you can set a goal to. When you’re a self-starter, it can be really hard to break away from your work—work goals are what keep you going. But the need to break away from work still exists, so start a hobby or sport that you can set a goal to. It fulfills your drive to succeed just like work, while also giving you a much-needed break.”
– Kyle Boureston, founder of Mantelligence.com
“As an entrepreneur, it’s best to know the value of time and spending it on things that only you can do—nobody else. Delegate the other things that you’re not really good at. That way, you can focus on the more important things that only you can do and save time.”
– Daisy Jing, founder of Banish
“Accept help. Getting a better balance on your professional and personal life depends on the ability to outsource. You can’t do everything to your high standards. The ability to accept help is a talent, and lots of people need assistance in learning and mastering how to accept help when they need it.”
– Ferne Traeger, president of Beyond the Boardroom
“The hardest part of achieving a good work-life balance is actually sustaining it over time. When business and home life are sailing along smoothly, maintaining a good balance is not all that hard. It’s when life throws an unexpected wrench into one or the other—then things become much more challenging to manage. I’ve found that the best way to sustain long-term balance is to accept that things will never be perfect in either environment and set priorities for both life and work. This way, when one starts to get out of balance, your priorities can act as a compass—guiding you on where and how to expend energy to get things back on track.”
– Jeremy Schaedler, president of Schaedler Insurance Agency, Inc
“A lot of people talk about becoming comfortable saying no. It’s true. You have to do that. But I would argue that it’s equally—if not more—important to become comfortable saying yes. You have to be ready and willing to say yes to those things that give you peace and serenity. If you don’t, your life will run you; you won’t run your life.”
– Kimberly Barnes, founder of ContentPark
So there you have it. These 20 entrepreneurs found work-life balance, and with their valuable advice, now you can find it in your busy schedule too.
Think we missed any must-have work-life balance tips that entrepreneurs can benefit from? Feel free to leave them in the comments!