The Work-Life Balance Conundrum for Female Business Owners
30% of small business owners report working 50 or more hours per week, and 20% report working 60 hours or more. 80% of small business owners report, on average, feeling as though they work too much.
As a woman who owns your own business, you may feel as though it's next to impossible to maintain work-life balance. You have countless tasks that demand your attention at work. It may feel as though your job is never done.
Fortunately, there are strategies that you can take to maintain work-life balance and still accomplish your goals.
1. Set boundaries (and stick to them).
In today's society, it often seems as though workers are expected to be "always on." 40% of US workers consider it acceptable to answer an urgent work email at the dinner table--which means that they're checking those devices and aware that those emails have come in. The reality, however, is that those emails rarely contain content that you can't address in another hour--or even first thing in the morning. Likewise, most of those "urgent" tasks that you're piling onto your plate can be handled later or even delegated to someone else.
Instead of working at all hours, set clear boundaries for your working hours. If you need to handle an emergency that absolutely demands your attention, that's fine. Otherwise, however, make sure you have a clear end to your business day, and do not work after those hours end.
2. Take time for personal care--not just for your family.
You don't want your family to feel abandoned or deprived as you work on growing your business. Your spouse, children, and other family members do deserve a fair share of your time. If you want to feel more balanced and in control, however, you cannot leave work, only to rush home and spend your evenings and weekends taking care of your home and family, barely able to eke out a few hours to shower or sleep. Set aside time that's just for you: time that you can spend doing the things you really want to do. Self-care time is particularly important when you have young children at home, who can, at times, pose a further drain on your emotional resources.
3. Pay attention to your energy cycle.
Most people naturally have energy highs and lows throughout the day--and they vary by individual. Some people are incredibly energetic first thing in the morning. Others come into their element when the sun goes down. Get to know when you feel most productive and focused, then schedule activities that require that energy during those hours. Give yourself some grace and slow down during the hours when you naturally feel less productive.
4. Set your priorities, then schedule them.
There will always be times when one area of your life gets more of your time, energy, and attention than another. Sometimes, that will be your family. Other times, it will be your business. As long as you maintain consistent balance over time, everything will work out in the end. It's easy, however, to fall into the habit of simply doing what's in front of you, even when that thing--often your business--doesn't really need that much of your time and energy.
To help you maintain better balance, make sure you take a clear look at your priorities. What are the things that are most important to you? Make sure they make it into your calendar.
Practically, that may mean scheduling date nights with your spouse, even if you have to do it weeks in advance. It may mean putting the kids' activities on the calendar so you know when you will be there to watch them. It may mean scheduling time to go for a long run once a week, even if it means that there are other tasks you need to put off to make it happen. Actually putting those things on your calendar, however, will increase the odds that you'll actually do them.
Work-life balance may be a challenge, but it's also well worth the effort. You haven't let obstacles stand in your way as you worked to grow your business, so dig in with the same tenacity in your personal life and watch how both can grow.