Having a work-life balance is simply a feeling of balance, even if the actual hours you work can’t change all that much. Change within a business can be quick and intense, giving you and your business “growing pains”. When you’re busy managing that change it can have a negative impact on your work-life balance. This can affect your performance at work, your health, relationships, and happiness.
Here are some key tips to help you take control.
People view work-life balance as the ability to work less. But it isn’t necessarily about the hours you work. It’s about ensuring the time you do work is quality time and highly productive. At any point in your life, you hold various identities – for example, this might be: business owner, parent, partner.
When a business is in the process of scaling up, this can put immense pressure on achieving a good balance across all of your identities. This can make you feel like you are constantly chasing your tail and cause aspects of your life to break down.
To restore balance, take the time to define each of your identities and practice being present in each of them.
This discipline will allow you to focus your energy and attention to each one of them at a time. If you’re at work, put your all into it. If you’re are at home with your family – make sure you are present and fully connecting with them.
Establishing the behavioural patterns that help you to play to your strengths is key to identifying how your energy is exerted on a daily basis. If you are a procedural person, you will enjoy and have a strength for creating and working with processes.
If you have a procedural strength and preference, and you do too much work within areas that lack process and structure, your energy levels are likely to deplete quicker than they would if you were working on process-led tasks, leading you to potentially experience burnout quicker.
This is often raised when discussing work-life balance for growing businesses, however, when scaling up a business, long hours are often necessary – it is what you do within those hours that is important.
If you are working late, for example, make sure you are working on something that is giving you energy, something you enjoy doing. Rather than something that is depleting your energy, or out of sync with your key behavioural traits and areas of strength.
It sounds obvious but often this is one of the things that takes a back seat.
Time becomes so precious that prioritisation becomes a daily battle, everything becomes urgent and can often leave us feeling like we can’t see the wood for the trees.
Taking time out to talk is a great way to gain some perspective and ensure that your own state of reality is realistic. Many people use an adviser or mentor from outside the business or even a trusted peer for this.
Ideally, this just needs to be someone who you trust enough to ask questions, challenge and support you during those times when balance often feels impossible to achieve. Ironically, we often get told that scaling a business can feel like the loneliest place in the world. But giving yourself permission to take time out to reassess can often provide you with clarity and direction.