Work-life balance: how to avoid burnout

When you’re running a small business, it can feel impossible to step away from the grind. Find out how to master the work-life balance, with Travelers.

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Owning a business brings a whole new meaning to the notion of a work-life balance. A lot of entrepreneurs on the up may be under the impression that success doesn’t come from taking time off, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, there are several reasons that maintaining the perfect work-life balance should be seen as an advantage.

For starters, an effective balance between work and leisure can lead to increased power, prowess, and productivity (at work and home). Read on for some smart work-life balance tips that will help you avoid the dreaded burnout.

Make a plan

The most productive days start out with a plan. If you have one, stick to it. Don’t let an unexpected email or phone call divert your agenda. That goes for personal time too. If you’re spending a Saturday afternoon with the kids or your partner, don’t even look at your work emails.

In light of this, you may find it useful to make a list at the start of each working day. You could also set time limits next to each item on your list, with an aim to finishing your working day at a reasonable hour – leaving more time for leisure later on. You’ll be surprised at how satisfying it can be to tick the items off your list.

Bear this in mind too: yes, you probably could juggle several different activities at a time – but that doesn’t mean you should. Being smart means prioritising, and planning.

Create your own schedule

Setting up a schedule – whether weekly or monthly – means you can plan your workload better, and if you have staff, it will allow them to have realistic expectations (minimising the need for them to contact you during your non-working hours).

If you’re more focused in the mornings, rise early and get to work. If you’re more productive later on, have a relaxing morning and save time in the afternoons and evenings for getting things done. Remember to schedule downtime too, otherwise, it might not happen. If you need to work weekends, book a couple of week days off each week instead (and stick to them). You’re the boss, so you make the rules.

Recognise the busy season

This goes hand in hand with creating your own schedule. In any business, understanding busy seasons and therefore peaks and troughs in business is key. Do you have a lot of quiet hours in the winter, but are manically busy during the summer? If so, mix up your working hours a little. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t work 12 hour days in the summer, and five hour days in the winter. Your success thus far proves that you know your industry well, so use this expertise to maximise your time off, too.

Although – this doesn’t mean you should abandon your personal life during the busy season. Keep maintaining that balance!

Switch off from technology

Trust us, business will continue to boom, even if you’re not constantly on call. If you’re sitting down to a meal, leave your phone in another room. If it’s a family meal, encourage others to do the same. It’s refreshingly liberating.

Having some non-screen time can actually work wonders for productivity too. Interestingly, research has shown that due to the tranquil, solitary setting and the calming feel of the water, 72% of people think up new ideas in the shower. Now that’s refreshing.

Learn to delegate

When your business is your baby, allowing others to take control of big tasks can be tricky. But effective delegation means less pressure on you, and more time off. Plus, if you have staff, it motivates them, and allows them to develop professionally.

If you don’t have staff, consider using freelancers for certain admin tasks. Take a look at sites such as Upwork and Freelancer.

Be sure to use your freed up time effectively. Don’t fill it with another work activity instantly, but consider a little time off instead!  

Take a holiday

Not a working holiday, but an actual holiday away from your work responsibilities. Be realistic about what’s manageable in terms of how long you take off so that coming back won’t be too stressful, and then start planning. The key here is to lay down some groundwork well ahead of jetting off.

Make sure clients know in advance that you’ll be away, and check that any staff have the support and experience required to deal with all eventualities in your absence. Finally, make a commitment to yourself not to work while you’re away, and enjoy your time off!

Make time for loved ones every day

This point is vital. In an insightful blog post, Richard Branson said the following of spending time with loved ones, “It reminds me of why I do what I do. Set aside some time every day for your loved ones. If you can’t be together, talk on the phone or through Skype. Switch your emails off and give them your full attention, even if it’s just half an hour. You’ll be more relaxed, and may even learn things from them that can help in your business.” Richard, we couldn’t agree more.       

Be present

One final piece of advice? Focus on being present in every situation. If you’re working, don’t get distracted – stick to any client meetings or catch ups with colleagues. If you’re away from work, make sure the people you’re with don’t need to fight for your attention. Prioritise your focus in this way and managing your work-life balance will soon become second nature.