If you’re anything like me, you started your business because you wanted more freedom and you didn’t want to be stuck in a job that controls your life. But for most entrepreneurs what happens is the exact opposite. We build businesses that are so near and dear to us, that it’s easy to get sucked into working in the business way more than you did in your 9-5. Even when you’re not working, you’re THINKING about your business, and it starts to feel like you have to fit your life around your business, rather than designing your business to fit the lifestyle that you want.
Today I’m sharing some of the things that I do to keep my business from taking over my life. Be sure to watch all the way to the end because I’ll be talking about one of the biggest intruders of our work/life balance as entrepreneurs, and how I keep that under wraps.
Take advantage of the perks.
One of my absolute favorite ways to find work/life balance as an entrepreneur is making sure that I take advantage of the perks of this atypical lifestyle that we lead. As entrepreneurs, we don’t get the benefits of a full-time job like health insurance or paid time off. So we have to take advantage of the benefits that we DO have.
My favorite way to do that is by scheduling my day so that I can do fun things during the traditional workday that you’d never be able to do in a 9-5. Trust me, nothing feels more luxurious than going for a massage in the middle of the day when most people are at work. If you’ve never done this before, you’ve got to try it. I also love to be able to do things like go on long lunch dates in the middle of the week, and go to the gym when it’s basically empty because everybody else is at work.
Now, you may be thinking, if you’re out going to the gym and getting massages and going on lunch dates when everyone else is at work, when do you actually DO the work? Don’t be fooled, I spend plenty of time working ON and IN my business, I just fit it into a time schedule that works for me.
Set specific times for when you’re working and when you’re not.
I try to be intentional about setting specific times that are designated for working, and not letting work creep into my downtime. My typical workday starts at about 10 am, after I’ve had a few hours to myself to start my day and have my morning routine. I typically start by getting 2-4 really good hours of work in the morning. This is my time for deep focused work where I’m either creating content for my business or writing copy for clients. By the time I wrap that up, it’s around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. This is usually when I take a break and fit in some of those fun things I wouldn’t be able to do if in a 9-5 job.
After that, I’ll typically wrap up my workday with client calls. Because I’ve got a pretty big time zone difference with most of my clients, I typically do most of my calls between 5-8 pm. When I’m not on calls, I’ll use that time to work on some of the smaller tasks that take up less brainpower. So even though I start later, and I like to take a nice long break in the middle of the day, I’m very intentional about getting my work done within my work times so that it doesn’t overflow into other areas of my life.
Your schedule may look totally different than mine, and that’s great! Remember: you should be setting up your schedule around YOUR life, not mine.
Contain your work to certain areas of your house.
Another thing that helps me to switch off from work in my downtime is to keep my business activities contained to a certain area of the house. I have a home office, and that is where work happens, period. When I leave that room for the evening, I am done working. This really helps me to keep a separation between when I’m working and not working.
Even If you don’t have a home office, you can still make this work for you too. For example, you could dedicate a little corner of your living room or your bedroom to a small office set up so that you’re able to focus on work when you’re in that space. Then when you move out of that space, you can shut it off.
The most important thing to consider is that you don’t want to be working from the couch, or from the kitchen table, or any area where you spend a lot of time when you’re not working. When you go back into that space to eat dinner or to relax and watch Netflix, your brain still associates that space with working on a subconscious level, and it’s going to be really hard to switch off.
Changing your state is so important for finding that mental separation between work time and downtime. The tricky thing about this is that we don’t necessarily need to be at a desk sitting at our computers to be in work mode. We can easily keep thinking about work long after we’ve technically “switched off” for the night. And our phones are the biggest culprit in keeping us tied to our businesses 24/7.
Set screen time boundaries.
One thing that has really helped me set boundaries around screen time is turning off notifications on my phone. Seriously, I say this with love, but if you have notifications from Facebook and Instagram and email popping up on your phone all the time, it’s not your business that’s controlling your life it’s your phone! YOU should be the one deciding when you want to go into an app and check your notifications, not the other way around.
Rant about notifications aside, as entrepreneurs, the lines between working and downtime can get really blurry, especially on social media. If you’re anything like me, you use social media as a tool to market your business. I bet a lot of the people you follow on social media are other business owners too. It’s really easy to say I’m going to scroll through Instagram in my downtime – but then you end up in your DMs talking to potential clients. Even if all you’re doing is scrolling through the feed, a lot of that content you’re looking at is related to business, so you’re constantly thinking about working even when you’re not working.
I haven’t found a perfect solution for this, but one thing that’s helped me is to password protect my social media apps using the screen time feature on my iPhone. This way, I have to type in a password to get on social media. I can’t just mindlessly go into the app without thinking about it, and I can limit my time on the app to 15-minute increments. After 15 minutes is up, I get shut out of the app. I can choose to put in my password again and stay on social media longer, but it’s a conscious choice rather than something I get sucked into and then all of a sudden an hour has passed without even thinking about it.
Now I want to hear what YOU do to create some work/life balance as an entrepreneur. Share your tips in the comments, and let me know which of these tips you’re going to implement into your business. I hope you’ll take at LEAST one of these tips I shared today to help you enjoy the benefits of being an entrepreneur without letting your business take over your life.