Strategy . Design . Marketing
Hey guys! I was thinking about this mentality we tend to have as solopreneurs:
“Once I have enough clients and make enough money, I can take some time off and enjoy the fruits of my labor.”
Striking out on your own is a very liberating experience. For the first time in your life, you’re the one calling all the shots and actively directing the course of your life and career.
That’s why it’s so easy to get swept up in that powerful feeling — so much so that you soon realize you’ve put too much of your life on hold to run your business.
The fact of the matter is, work-life balance is a critical component of success. If you can’t find or maintain that balance, then every minute, every hour, every day you steal away from your life in favor of your business will actually cost you.
When work becomes all-consuming, it can have devastating effects.
Fundera found that 81% of business owners work nights and 89% work over the weekend:
That’s a major problem. According to Dr. Jean Kim of George Washington University:
“Being overworked will lead to stress and strain on relationships… and increase the risk of depression and anxiety and many medical illnesses.”
So, how do we make sure that what you’re doing in your business will positively impact your personal life as well as your professional one?
Here are some ways you can maintain a better work-life balance:
How does having a niche help you maintain a better work-life balance? Think about it like this:
The more comfortable you become with saying “no” and referring clients to someone who is a better fit, the less you have to stress about making time to appease everyone.
By setting strict work hours and providing clients with only one or two contact options, you can keep your inbox, phone, and messenger from constantly pulling you back into the business when you shouldn’t be in it.
In all honesty, this is something I often struggle with because I love my clients and want to be there for them when they need me. However, I recognize that being on call 24/7 just isn’t reasonable. Not only will it hurt me in the long run, but it’ll compromise the quality of work I do for my clients.
Take a closer look at what your own lack of boundaries is doing and you’ll see why it needs to be fixed.
This is going to be a hard one. Trust me, I get it. When you work for yourself, there tends to be this misconception from those closest to you that you don’t have a “normal” job, that you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. But despite what your family and friends assume about your workday, you and I both know what the reality is:
You might not drive into an office each day or report to a boss anymore, but you still have to show up day in and day out for clients just as you would if you were employed. So, boundary-setting is a must.
Contracts can protect you from the stress caused by late-paid invoices or clients who try to skip out on the tab altogether.
When you have a contract in place, you’ll have less to worry about in terms of getting paid. More importantly, you won’t have to spend extra hours doing additional work to try and supplement the money you lost or the payment you didn’t receive on time.
Normally, delegation means handing tasks off to team members. However, if you’re running a lean company, prefer to work on your own, or just aren’t in a position to hire right now, there are other options.
For example, you can offload a lot of the menial tasks you’re currently doing to software.
Download the list of 10 Tools That Are Going to Help You Maintain a Better Work-Life Balance now.
Another option is to contract a specialist to help you with some of the work.
Either way, the goal is to remove some of the pressure from your own shoulders. And there are plenty of options to help you do this.
When you overbook yourself, you compromise the quality of work you do while simultaneously pushing yourself into burnout territory. And when you burn out, forget about trying to have a work-life balance at that point. Everything gets put on hold!
It’s okay to say “no” to a job or to ask clients to schedule for a later date if you know you can’t meet their expectations. I recently had to do this with a client as I knew that taking on anything more at the moment would’ve been bad news for us all. So, I asked if we could reschedule a month-and-a-half later.
And guess what? They were more than happy to oblige. If they value your service, they’ll be willing to wait.
Want to give yourself an energy boost and improve your focus so you can get work done during the hours you’ve set for yourself? Then, don’t be afraid to get some fresh air.
Go for a walk. Visit a local cafe. Play with your dog in the yard. It doesn’t matter what you do. All that matters is that you take a daily break to stretch your legs and clear your mind. It’ll help to keep your work from spilling over into the night or weekend.
Working out on a regular basis (we’re talking like three or four times a week) is going to help immensely. Not only will it give you an outlet to burn off any pent-up energy or stress from work, but it’ll help you sleep better at night.
Plus, a workout is a great excuse to take a shower and get those creative juices flowing!
Whether you do it before, during, or after the workday, make sure to carve out that time ahead of time. For example, you could find a 30-minute lunchtime yoga class you want to go to and schedule it in your calendar a few times a week. Or you could join a weekend bootcamp that forces you to be productive during the workweek.
Have you ever found yourself sitting at the dinner table with family or out for drinks with friends, but only able to think about work? It’s because you haven’t allowed your brain a break. While it’s fine to be obsessive about your work while you’re in it, it’s unhealthy to let it trickle into the rest of your life.
So, make time every day for mindfulness:
Do whatever it is that will give your brain away from work. And make sure to have your distractions (i.e. your phone and computer) turned off and out of sight when you do!
It’s easy to forget to nourish yourself when a client emails you at 11:59 a.m. with an urgent request and you figure you’ll just take a late lunch. But then more requests keep rolling in and, before you know it, it’s 6 p.m. and you haven’t eaten anything since that piece of toast and cup of tea at breakfast.
You can’t afford to put your own well-being on hold, even if you promise to make it up to yourself later. This goes back to the whole setting boundaries thing.
So, be sure to make time for yourself to eat three meals a day, stay hydrated, and go to sleep on a consistent schedule.
A good way to unwind after a long week is to spend time with your loved ones. Go out for dinner with your partner. Take your kids to the park or a museum. Have a friend over for dinner.
Find something you can do once a week to blow off some steam and have some fun. You deserve it!
It’s okay to do solo activities in your time away from work, too. Just make sure they’re separate from your business. So, if you’re a wellness coach, taking a cooking class might not be the best way to detach.
Think about what kinds of things make you happy. Is there a new book you’re dying to read? Is the beautiful weather begging you to take your bike out for a ride? Is there a local organization you’ve been meaning to volunteer for? Make time for your passion.
Your business isn’t going anywhere and neither are your clients.
Whether you take a long weekend here or there, or you visit some far-flung destination for a couple weeks, a vacation is a good thing. It gives you space from your business and allows you to reset.
There’s no reason why you should sacrifice your personal time for work, or vice versa. In fact, the better a balance you strike between the two, the more successful and happy you’ll be in the long run.
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Ashley Gadd is an award-winning digital marketing strategist, graphic designer, and educator who helps clients turn their squirrely ideas into captivating and strategic brands that convert. Blending her background in nonprofit marketing with her education in design, Ashley offers customer-centric brand experiences that connect the visual and strategic dots to give her clients the tools to build a sustainable and profitable business they’re proud of.
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