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Work-life balance is rubbish

At this time of year, I see so many articles about work–life balance and how to achieve it. But what does that really mean? Is the concept itself rubbish – or, like many business owners, is it your balance that’s rubbish?

The concept implies equal weighting or perfect equilibrium. Yet, I’d argue that balance is in the mind of the individual, and can mean different things to different people. Therefore, work–life balance is whatever you as a business owner define it to be. It’s whatever makes you happy, keeps you healthy and energised, is sustainable and preferably has a positive impact on those around you.

Defining your ideal balance can be challenging, and achieving it even more so. But these seven steps will help you get started:

1. Learn to say ‘no’. This is a very powerful and positive behaviour to practice. It provides clarity and is unambiguous. How many pressures in your business life come about through lack of clarity?

2. Don’t ‘over service’. The pressure to grow, to win new business, to get a new client, to add revenue can lead to you doing too much for too little in return. This creates an expectation and embeds bad habits.

3. Value yourself. You have a distinct role as the owner and leader of your business. It takes time and energy to plan, set direction, organise resources, win business, build partnerships etc. Whilst it’s good to stay connected with all elements of your company, focus your efforts on those areas where you really add value.

4. Use those around you. Invest in good people and your business will grow, but only if you delegate, give responsibility and, in some cases, outsource work to them. Use the people around you, not just to relieve you of work, but because the right people are better than you anyway! And, having delegated to your people, don’t be tempted to pile back in and take over individual service or product matters. It’s confusing for your team, and your customers.

5. Don’t fret the small stuff. When you’re running a small business, you see all the small issues. You may become very good at seeing and then fixing those small issues, or you may become very good at simply worrying about them. The more you can focus on the broad sweeps, the more effective your leadership will be – resulting in a more profitable business.

6. Diarise ‘me time’. Write a list of the things or activities that would help you feel more balanced, and make time for them. There are lots of ways to protect and defend your time, such as blocking out gaps in your schedule, so find one that works for you.

7. Take a ‘whole person’ view. Running your business well can lead to a better business; managing yourself well can lead to a better business owner. Don’t think of only getting the ‘work’ part of work–life balance right; consider the ‘whole you’ and include exercise, diet, socialising, community, family, and so on as priorities.

With the holidays approaching, now is the perfect time to work towards a realistic (not rubbish) work–life balance. Implementing these steps will not only help you enjoy a welcome Christmas break – it’ll help you be a better business owner. And if you’re still feeling off-kilter, discover how Henchards can help you find, and maintain, your balance in 2018.

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