Entrepreneurs are very passionate about their work, which can be a double-edged sword sometimes. It gives us the strong drive and focus we need to gain momentum, but it can also cause us to push ourselves too far. This can lead to burnout if we don’t find the right work-life balance.
Even life coaches aren’t immune to the risks of entrepreneurial burnout. Kelsey J. Patel is a spiritual empowerment coach, healer and the owner of Pure Barre Beverly Hills. She helps clients live a vibrant, joy-filled and abundant life. Patel dedicates her life to helping others find work-life balance, but is often slammed with one-on-one client sessions, press tours, hosting workshops, retreats, events and the day-to-day work required to run her studio.
She realized that she had to find better balance in her life, especially since she is a wellness professional and needs to practice what she preaches. She also has two step-sons and knew she had to make key changes to accommodate her work and personal lifestyles.
“Through past experiences, I have realized that my health and well-being can take a back seat to nothing," Patel said. "At the end of each day, I am the common denominator to everything that I see in front of me. I now know it my responsibility to choose how I want my day to go and how I will feel throughout that day. On my busiest and most stressful days, I chose to meditate twice and move my body in some capacity. I do this in order to clear my mind, release stress and activate my body to make the best decisions possible for me, my clients and my business.”
What steps can entrepreneurs take to find the optimal work-life balance? We spoke with several other seasoned entrepreneurs who were charitable enough to share their insights.
1. Don’t be afraid to outsource.
Business owners must train themselves to outsource unimportant tasks. However, Kristen Elworthy, founder of Seven Hills Communications, points out that this is easier said than done.
“The key for me has been strategic outsourcing," Elworthy said, "but it was hard handing off tasks at the first. But I think what became key for me was that hiring a team is essentially giving myself a promotion. At some point, I advanced in my career and want to focus on business development, client work, strategy, etc. By outsourcing, I was able to continue growing the business while also making myself happier, both in my career and at home, and giving myself some breathing room and resources to help get things done.”
While outsourcing wasn’t easy at first, it saved her countless hours and eliminated the stress that was weighing on her like a load of bricks. Outsourcing is even more important for entrepreneurs trying to oversee tasks that fall outside the scope of their own expertise.
Jeb Ory, co-founder and CEO of Phone2Action, remembers spending hundreds of hours mining data to deliver a key component of his service. To move more quickly, he pulled in other experts to assist him. Once the process was established, Ory started to outsource tasks to contractors on oDesk, an online service, so team members from across the world could work overnight. Ory said that outsourcing made everything more productive and less of a drain on his time.
2. Work more from home.
Minimizing the amount of time you spend in your office can also help. According to recent studies, workers are actually less productive when they have to go the office every day. They squander time on the road and must cope with numerous interruptions at work. Since they can’t complete everything on time in the office, they often work longer hours, which means they have less time to be with their family.
Keren Kang, CEO of Native Commerce, an Austin-based ecommerce and digital marketing company, concurs with these findings. Working from home part of the week has helped her reclaim those lost hours, which has been beneficial for her health and family relationships.
“When I was going into the office five days a week, it was impossible to leave at a reasonable hour, especially if you’re the boss," she said "By the time I got home, I was a zombie. This was bad for my relationships and my family outside of work. I did this for about two years before I realized something had to change. Today, I think I’ve found a nice stride. I have two designated work-from-home days where I can actually get work done with minimal distractions. It’s important to be flexible so, depending on how busy the week is, I will dedicate my mornings to the office, then go home at lunch to work the rest of the day from home. I thought it would be difficult to communicate without being face-to-face, but it’s actually quite the opposite. On the days I’m working from home, we’re jamming over Google Hangouts and Slack. Working from home forces you to provide clear, concise instructions, so the literal communication improved greatly.”
3. Don’t constantly sacrifice sleep.
In the early days of your entrepreneurial career, you may need to work late into the night. This may be inevitable for the first couple of weeks or the busiest times of the year. However, it isn’t sustainable over the long-term.
If you find yourself getting less than six hours of sleep every night, then you need to rethink your habits. Force yourself to put the brakes on your work at least four hours before you plan to go to sleep. You need this time to unwind, so you can get a good night’s rest.
It’s also a good idea to set your phone down a couple of hours before going to sleep. Ryan Kh, founder of Catalyst for Business, said that he turns off all notifications on his phone after 9 pm to get to sleep. “My smartphone addiction was ruining my life and derailing my career," Kh said. "Forcing myself to set it aside for the night helped considerably.”
Most of us are addicted to our phones these days, but it is destroying our sleep patterns. Looking at your phone tricks your brain into thinking that it is still daytime, so you can’t get the restorative sleep that you need.