5 Ways to Ensure a Work-Life Balance

When the question ‘What’s one of the biggest challenges you face as a business owner?’ was asked…

…“Keeping a work-life balance” was by far the most popular answer.

So as I sit on this aeroplane to Bulgaria, I have decided to share with you the 5 ways I’m trying to get this right from the get-go so that work doesn’t rule my life and control everything else important to me.

Hopefully, you’ll start implementing these techniques into your weekly routine to stop being a slave to your business and learn to live a little.

Before we start…THE WHY

There will have been a reason why you started your business in the first place – whether it’s related to generating more money, freedom or time with your loved ones, whether it’s a combination of all three – or something totally different, everyone has a why!

For me, I want freedom – freedom to choose who I work with and never have to work with people I dislike or who infuriate me beyond belief. I also want to go on nice holidays with my loved ones (without having to request annual leave!) and start a family in the future.

With that said, it’s vital that work doesn’t take over otherwise I’ll never achieve ‘the why’, so here’s how I’m tackling it.

1) Quality Time

As a business owner it’s impossible to complete your to-do list. There is ALWAYS something you could tick off your list if you ‘have a late one’ or start super early, therefore, you absolutely need to know when to stop.

I admit it. I’m a workaholic.

I love my work – so it doesn’t feel like a job. But I’m also IN LOVE with my partner who I want (and need) to make quality time for. Weekends away, meals out, trips to the cinema, even just a film night on the sofa. I make sure that every week there are at least 2-3 of these things happening and I know when to switch off.

Whether it’s quality time with your other half, your kids, your siblings or your parents – the work will always be there, and there will always be ‘so much to get done’, but don’t forget about the people who fall into ‘the why’ and the reason you started it all in the first place.

2) Find a Hobby!

Tennis, exercise, a sports club, a band, a running group, whatever appeals to you – explore it.

My hobby is amateur dramatics (musical theatre) and I’m telling you now, there’s nothing amateur about it. I’ve performed with so many amazing, talented people who’ve become my very best friends. So not only do I get two nights a week away from ‘the norm’, singing, dancing and doing what I love – it’s a massive social element of my life and encourages me to contain my work to set hours and go and have some fun.

The next show I’m auditioning for will rehearse from 10th September 2019 right through to the show in April 2020 (two rehearsals a week), so I’m guaranteed two nights a week to have a laptop-free evening. At 6pm it’ll switch off, and so will I as I head off to my hobby – because I’ll never miss a rehearsal and let my fellow cast members down.

3) You Time

It seems like an obvious one, but I can guarantee at least 70% of the people reading this are guilty of not making time for yourself. Away from your work, away from your family, partner or kids. Just you – doing something for you, undisturbed.

I am terrible at this. Even if I plan a night in for myself, a text message from a family member or friend and it all goes out the window. I get up early and go to bed late and I cram as much as I physically can into every single day.

However, recently my Mum has retired and she gives me at least one new book every week claiming “this one was even better than the last one”, so my book shelf is now being stacked horizontally as well as vertically and I’m having to find time to read to get through them all.

It has been AMAZING.

Falling asleep with someone else’s story going around your mind is so much easier than trying to switch off when you’ve been working late trying to get a job finished.

Read a book, watch a film, do a jigsaw puzzle – even if it’s just for 20 minutes a day. It will make a huge difference to your mental well-being.

4) Take a Break

Three months into launching Flamingo Marketing Strategies, I’ve booked two holidays within a 4-week window.

A big part of me nearly declined the first one (this trip to Bulgaria with my Mum) but I’m SO glad I didn’t.

I am capable of being strict with myself.

I am allowing 3 hours a day to do work and the rest of each day will be spent with my mate Domingo The Flamingo (named by Judy Wellicome – bravo Judy, great name!) as shown in the photo and spending quality time with my wonderful mother, Julie.

The ONLY reason I’m allowing this 3-hour work window is purely because my next holiday to Egypt in 3 weeks’ time I’ll be 100% work-free to ensure points one and three above take place, and I give myself the break I deserve.

Fortunately for me, both my parents started their own business at a similar age to me, so they completely understand the pressures of the ‘start up’ period. Three hours of work in exchange for several hours of bat and ball in the pool a day, and a week relaxing in the sun was the perfect deal in Mums eyes.

Take holidays, and make sure you switch off. The world can wait a week – but your kids will grow up quickly, and your holidays will fly by so make sure you enjoy that money you’ve worked hard for to spend it with the people who mean the most to you.

5) Exercise

This is the one I’m worst at!

During my last role in full-time employment I did a LOT of travelling. The pounds just crept on, not doing a show and living in hotel rooms, eating out night-after-night took its toll.

Now I’m in a situation where I can actually do something about it, I’m taking it for granted in many ways. I can always see the benefit of ‘getting something finished’ instead, so gym classes get cancelled and my jeans are still tight.

However, on the days where I do exercise – I feel like a completely different person!

So, my goal once my two holidays are out the way and I start rehearsing again is to get into a routine and stop using work as an excuse. It’s so important to look after your body and mind, not just live at your desk. Work will always be there, and unfortunately so will these unwanted pounds if I don’t make a change.

If you’re guilty of putting work above everything else, hopefully these five things will help you prioritise better and remember ‘The Why’.

If you’re spending more time working than you are with the people you care about or doing the things you enjoy doing like reading a book or taking holidays, there is an imbalance – but it’s easy to fix!