When Your Business Runs Out of Your Home, How Do You Restore Work-Life Balance?
Whether it's delegating better or streamlining communication, there are accessible ways to avoid blurring the lines.
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We've never spent more time at home than we are spending right now. And although this may mean we have more available hours for our spouses, kids and other family members than ever, is that really quality time? Before, it was easier to have a clear separation between work and home life. Work would end promptly around the time that we got home from the office. Even if we had late-night emails or ancillary work to complete, that boundary still existed. It may have been blurred at times, but it was easier to disconnect and be present with family or friends.
With most non-essential workers still operating from home, schedules can get a bit fuzzy. For one, you may sleep in a tad later, thanks to the cutting out of commuting time. You may also take a longer lunch — one that involves walking the dog, lounging on the couch or other aspects of "life" you couldn't tend to at the office. But there's another danger present: letting work overflow into your personal life now that the boundary has dissipated. So, how can we learn to strike a work-life balance that keeps us sane?
1. Make weekends for personal life only
We've all seen the funny tweets and news segments kindly letting us know which day of the week it is. And it's true — the days all seem to blur together. There's a danger in this; we tend to keep working day after day, despite the fact we need our weekends for rest. I recently spoke with Sa El, co-founder of Simply Insurance, who acknowledges that, "As my business has grown and more tasks have been handed off to others, I find myself actually looking for work to do instead of investing that time into my relationships. I would have anxiety about not working, which is probably something we all go through." He adds that making a clear differentiation on weekends for his personal life helped him put the work away.
And given that a study from Stanford found that our productivity begins to dip beyond 50 hours a week, and eventually becomes so low beyond 55 hours that we are hardly getting anything done, we might as well make weekends a time for relationships and self-care.
2. Delegate responsibilities
Every handbook on work-life balance will tell you to delegate responsibilities, and it's still just as important. With financial fears from an impending recession, it may seem like a safer bet to stop hiring that freelancer or to cut back your one full-time team member to part-time. This puts more work on YOU. Just because you don't have anywhere to go during the nationwide shutdown doesn't mean you suddenly have more hours in a day, and overwhelming yourself with responsibilities that can easily be delegated — such as updating your website or writing that overdue copy — will only stress you out more.
In a conversation with Peter Abualzolof, co-founder and CEO of Mashvisor, he echoed the notion that, "Of course, you are emotionally attached to your company and want to remain involved in every single aspect of the business. However, you just have to accept the reality that as your business grows and expands, it is impossible to remain in control of everything; that is, if you want to have any personal life."
Take a step back and really take stock of what your working time is spent on. There is always some ROI on delegating out tasks.
3. Utilize technology to help you stay on track
Finally, remember you don't have to do this alone. Even your FitBit or fitness tracker can remind you when you may need to get up from your desk and stretch your legs. Ask your partner to go for a walk, or play in the backyard with your dog. Take advantage of productivity tools like time trackers to see how you're really spending your time, and seek to feel more in control of your business despite delegating by upgrading your communication technology.
As David Liu, founder and CEO of Deltapath, advises, "Invest a bit of time upfront creating clear communication systems and schedules on your technology, to help work-from-home feel a bit less isolated."
I've personally set up a few channels on Slack and Trello and instated a Zoom schedule that makes me feel connected to my team, so we can communicate more efficiently, without extra hours logged by anyone.
Work-life balance will never fully be 50/50. It's about finding a balance that works for you, and now is an optimal time to create boundaries that will help you for the rest of your working career.