Betsy Wild is the CEO and owner of We Craft Box, an award-winning monthly kids craft kit delivered to the home.
For some entrepreneurs, work is life, and any concept of work-life balance went out the window as soon as they decided to start a business. For entrepreneurs who are starting a business while also raising a family, balance is not a disposable notion; it is essential.
As a parent and entrepreneur myself, I know achieving this balance is not always easy or perfect, but it’s definitely necessary. So, how do you give enough attention to both work and home without burning out? Start with the knowledge that finding a work-life balance is not only possible but it’s also better for you, your family and your budding business. Then, keep the following in mind:
Work at work.
Whether your workplace is a corner of your den or an actual office, when you’re there, your intention should be to get work done. I find that this mindset can help improve your productivity and make you more efficient. Research has shown that working long hours doesn’t result in more output, and productivity can actually decline as hours worked increase.
If you have a hard time facing certain tasks or find that it’s difficult to focus during your scheduled work time, consider implementing a few time-management strategies. For example, I often recommend the Pomodoro Method. This is something I’ve written on in the past. In a nutshell, devote a 25-minute block of time to focus on a particular task. When the 25 minutes are up, get a snack, check messages for anything that needs immediate attention, etc., and then come back refreshed to start another 25-minute block of time.
Leave work at work.
Even if you have a home office, you don’t have to work around the clock when starting a business. As mentioned previously, longer hours are not necessary to maintain high productivity. In a study of more than 2,500 workers in Iceland, participants switched from a 40-hour workweek to a 35- or 36-hour workweek without a reduction in pay. Not only was there no loss in productivity, but also productivity actually stayed the same or improved.
So, draw the line. Try your best to keep work from flowing into your home and personal life. I find that once you understand you can be more productive working fewer hours, it becomes a bit easier to create and respect boundaries between work and everything else. To make this boundary firm, outline a “work-free time zone” for personal and family time. Put it on your calendar, or simply post a sign reminding yourself, “No work after (insert the time of your choosing).” Kids can be very helpful in keeping you to your established work-free time zone.
When you’re away from work, be present not just in body but also in spirit and consciousness. Once you get the hang of putting all your focus into work during your established work hours, you can more easily “clock out” from work mentally and turn your focus to yourself and your family. Some of that family time might be a never-ending routine of meals and chores, but a great way to be more present is to find activities to do together. Let your family help prepare meals or desserts. Make cleanup a fun challenge. Get creative together with arts and crafts. Whatever you do, those are the times when you should be present.
Give yourself grace.
There’s no simple guidebook for how to do all that you need to do while starting a business and raising a family, so don’t beat yourself up when things go sideways. This is important not just for your own emotional and mental health but also for your family. Remember that perfection is not the goal and, sometimes, “good enough” is just fine. You can even enlist your children’s help in setting realistic goals (if they’re old enough), and show them that it’s OK to adjust when a plan clashes with reality.
Don’t forget yourself.
You have to feel good to be present for both your family and your business. Giving yourself time for a break can be immensely beneficial to your health, happiness and productivity. As such, carve out some time for yourself. Don’t feel “selfish” about taking some “you” time. Happiness has been shown to boost productivity by 12%.
Starting and running a business is work, and finding success will sometimes require more of your time, but remember that you run your business. Don’t let it run you. Your business success will be all the sweeter when you can enjoy it with your family.