Entrepreneurs understand that they cannot follow elaborate health schemes and protocols. What they can do is include small check-ins on how they are feeling.
By Sarvesh Shashi
What a work-life balance means to an entrepreneur and what it means to another individual, are so vastly different. A structured time schedule, water-cooler chit-chat, scheduled holidays, efficiency based on corporate performance scales and universally agreed upon professional codes which helps employees maintain a balance, essentially fly out the window. When you have a startup to run or are a small business owner, it’s safe to say that you can forget 9 am-5 pm work environment and embrace a 24×7 work week. Responding to client calls and emails, through the day and night, last-minute projects, demanding roadmaps and conference calls are your new normal. Vacations and holidays are a daydream; daunting deadlines are the new weekend agenda, and your social life seems to revolve around your colleagues.
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All this being the stark reality of the situation, it is also the leading cause for burnout, loss of motivation, and then the pessimism slowly sets in. Taking your work home, can have one walking on egg-shells and make one feel edgy all the time. These adverse factors slowly start to take hold of mental, physical, and emotional health and work efficiency. A work-life balance is a necessary part of any healthy work dynamic, a personal life constantly invaded by work can cause sleepless nights, irritable mornings, anxiety, low moods, and general listlessness. Entrepreneurs understand that they cannot follow elaborate health schemes and protocols. What they can do is include small check-ins on how they are feeling and how they can keep track of their mental, physical and emotional health.
- Don’t take on more than you can do, even in situations where it feels like you may be the only one who can accomplish the task. Keep a good network of friends, professionals, and freelancers to whom you can outsource. There is always an alternative.
- Learn to say no. Say no to your client, investor, colleague or family when you do not want to undertake a task, or even do not feel like a late-night drink or a family commitment. Prioritize what you want to do.
- Time management skills are a blessing, do a short course or try and see which time management tools work best for you and implement them in your workday.
- Get a mentor who has done all of this before. Seek his/her advice before embarking on difficult tasks. Make things easier for yourself, so that you aren’t spending that extra time ruminating over it at home.
- Make sure to have an exercise schedule, early in the morning or late in the day, short breaks between sessions for a breath of fresh air and to stretch your legs.
- Make play a part of the work. Ask yourself what you can do to bring in the fun element into the workspace — music, movie nights, team bonding, light humour, all of this help disperse the tension at the workspace.
- When you are taking a weekend off or a break, tell your colleagues or employees clearly that you will not be checking messages or emails during that period and stick to it!
- Keep a journal or a diary and check in with it to see how you feel and how your day was, keep track of how much work information goes in and see if you are comfortable with the personal and work-life balance.
- Keep a dedicated device for work, a phone for work calls, notifications, emails, and messages. Sometimes work communication can get so overwhelming that, it can become hard to differentiate between friends and family, clients and other peers.
- Draw a Venn diagram one to symbolize work, the other to symbolise your personal life and see what parts coincide and how is it that you would like to move it around, change, and reiterate.
- Be honest with your family or partner if you are having trouble with balance, ask them to point out to you any areas where you are allowing work to loom over personal life and relationships.
The work-life balance, as an entrepreneur is a tricky battle, but like any other, it is honed with practice, fostering skills, and dedication to the highest good of yourself and the business.
(Sarvesh Shashi is the Founder & CEO at SARVA. Views expressed are the author’s own.)