As an entrepreneur, you’re not only limited to the title of CEO, you’re also the marketing director, finance controller, and sales manager all- in-one. With so many roles and so little time, many small business owners struggle to achieve the ultimate work-life balance or even better, work-life harmony.
What is Work-Life Balance?
“Work-life balance” seems to be what everyone is searching for. Everyone wants to be the person who gets a workout in before work, clocks out right at 5, then joins friends for a drink at the local pub. Sounds ideal right? You’re working tirelessly to build up your business but you also want to enjoy other aspects of life like seeing family or friends and indulging in your hobbies.
The idea of Work-life “balance” implies that work and life are an even split. That the two are working against each other, rather than coexisting. We all know through experience that work and life is never 50/50. Life happens, one will inevitably trickle its way into the other, and the key is accepting that the way to a successful and healthy life (and business) is to integrate both. Rather than thinking of ways to balance two opposing pieces, try seeking work-life harmony instead.
What is harmony?
Think Yin and Yang. Working in harmony is about feeling good about what you’re doing, no matter how busy you may be. There is no judgment happening and it should make switching from work mode to a personal mode effortless. When you focus on your work and on your life, everything is done in harmony. You don’t have to worry about the dreaded (FOMO- Fear of missing out) when missing milestones and bailing on events. It’s about integrating your personal life (and the things you love) into your busy work life!
Here are 6 ways to achieve work-life harmony, rather than work-life balance.
1. Stop Searching for Balance
Stop looking for something that isn’t there, instead find harmony in everything you do. Doing this takes the pressure off of attempting perfection and letting things flow seamlessly. This gives you permission to do what you need to do and being attentive to the needs of the moment, which leads to our second point.
2. Be Present
To live harmoniously is to be present in the moment. As “yoga mantra” as it may be, being present is essential to achieving work-life harmony. If you’re at work, focus on the activity at hand and give it your all. When you’re with family, leave work matters out of your mind. This way, you will give your full attention to whatever you’re doing in that moment.
3. Plan Your Week Around Your Priorities or “Themes”
Setting a to-do list the night before and checking tasks off as you go is useful. However, it’s easy to lose sight of your priorities when you’re focused too much on the day-to-day.
Try thinking even bigger. Take twenty minutes on a Sunday evening to establish the priorities that will guide the upcoming week. These should be specific, actionable goals that you’re prepared to have accomplished by the time Friday rolls around.
The CEO of Evernote assigns each weekday a theme based on his main priorities. For example, Mondays could be taking care of the business side of your small business, Tuesdays can be blocked off for weekly meetings, and Wednesdays can be reserved for marketing and any go-to-market efforts. Thursday’s priority could be personal affairs like seeing friends or family.
Planning your week around your priorities or goals rather than a simple to-do list will help organize your week in a way that integrates both your life goals and your work goals together—allowing it to co-exist!
If you’re not the type to make a traditional to do list, swap the pen and paper for a task management platform like Notion or Asana.
4. Make Conscious Choices
These days, those who “grind” in their careers are put on a pedestal. Although being determined and hardworking is admirable, it’s easy to neglect other aspects of your life that are equally as important.
Small business owners who wish to achieve work-life harmony must start with making conscious choices. Reflect carefully on the type of work you want to do and how much time you’re willing to spend working.
If a business only succeeds at the expense of your personal relationships, mental stability, and health, is it really worth it?
5. Stay Active
This may be a no-brainer, but we’re reminding you because it matters. Regular aerobic exercise that gets your heart pumping (running, biking, swimming, hiking) is proven to increase the size of the hippocampus—the area of the brain that deals with verbal memory and learning.
So staying active regularly makes your brain bigger (bonus!). On top of all that, other health benefits including improved mood (from your endorphins), better sleep, and reduced stress are just a few to name. So get those steps in!
6. Get Rest
No more all nighters. Small business owners who aren’t well-rested will easily get burnout. Foregoing regular sleep (7-8 hours) prevents your brain from making new memories, weakens your immune system, and slows down your brain’s ability to process information.
Directly linked to your productivity, your ability to think both quickly and creatively is dependent on you staying well-rested. Although it may seem at first like you just don’t have enough time to sleep—the opposite is true. You can’t afford to skip out on proper sleep—there’s too much to lose.
Even if you can’t always get a full night’s rest, make sure that your mind is well-rested. For example, meditation—even for just a few minutes a day—can do wonders for your health, relationships, brain, function, and productivity. All of these lead to a sharper, more focused, and efficient workday.
Are You Ready To Achieve Work-Life Harmony?
No one expects you to find harmony in your life overnight. It takes time and figuring out what works for you. But once you start looking to achieve harmony rather than balance, you’ll see a world of a difference in your health, your relationships, and your business. Achieving work-life harmony is where all these components of your life thrive equally. Once you have that down, a healthy business will follow! Remember, it all starts with you.