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5 ways business owners can improve their work-life balance

If you own your own business, or you’re in a senior position within your company, it’s likely to be as the result of lots of hard work. Many people believe that hard work is the route to success, with research from Sage finding that 45% of business owners work between 40 and 60 hours a week, with one in six working more than 60 hours a week.

From time to time, however, it’s worth remembering that too much work can be bad for your mental and physical health. Stress can lead to high blood pressure, heart problems and mental health issues, and overwork remains a common cause of sickness.

Creating a work-life balance that works for you is key to your overall wellbeing. So, to help you, here are five great tips.

1. Schedule your time

One of the key pieces of advice that entrepreneurs regularly give is that it’s vital to schedule every aspect of your life. As Nathan Chan of Foundr magazine says: “Utilising your calendar is everything. … You treat family time/work-life balance as part of your schedule.”

Don’t just use your calendar for meetings or calls. Use it to book in important non-work events such as family occasions, parents’ evenings, meetings with friends, and special celebrations. Once they are in your diary, treat them in the same way you would a business meeting and arrange work around them.

2. Delegate

If you don’t delegate, you will limit your success as a business owner or manager. While delegation is often not easy for people who own their own company, or who have senior roles, it’s vital to your overall wellbeing.

Sit down and look at your to-do list and establish what someone else can look after. Hiring a responsible and competent team is a great way of handing over duties. And once you’ve hired great people, let go of the idea that you’re the only one who can handle complex business problems. Your team will often provide creative solutions to the challenges facing your company.

Delegating doesn’t just have to be at work. If you don’t have time to keep the garden tidy, do the ironing, or clean the house, consider hiring a professional to do these jobs for you.

3. Use apps to focus

Many busy people get easily distracted. The Harvard Business Review says that, on average, professionals check their email 15 times per day or every 37 minutes. They estimate that over-checking your email wastes 21 minutes per day.

One way to stay focused and to ensure your working time is spent productively is to use time management apps. Some great examples are:

  • Producteev and Harvest let you monitor how you spend your time, what’s on target and what requires follow-up
  • Pocket lets you store videos, articles, or anything else you find of interest in one place, so you can check them out when you have time
  • Evernote helps you to manage your to-do list
  • Tap Forms and LastPass hold all your passwords securely so you don’t spend time trying to remember them
  • Dropbox lets you manage all your files and access them on the go.

4. Take regular breaks

If you’re busy, then taking a break might sound counterintuitive. However, taking a proper break is essential if you want to be productive and produce good quality work. This has the knock-on effect of clearing your in-tray, giving you more time to spend doing things you enjoy.

The NHS stresses the importance of taking regular lunch and screen breaks, and even just a five-minute break every hour can really help your productivity. Step away from your screen, stretch and disconnect and this will help you to maintain productivity throughout the day. There are even apps available that will remind you to take a short break.

It’s not just working day breaks that are important. Taking a proper holiday is vital for recharging your batteries and avoiding burn out.

2016 research by holiday firm Airtours, revealed that 40% of British workers were guilty of not utilising their full holiday entitlement. They also found that one in six people admitted to having more than a full working week of unused annual leave.

Taking a proper holiday – even if you just stay at home – gives you a break from the stress of work. It’s vital for your physical and mental wellbeing, as well as giving you the chance to spend some quality time with your family and friends.

5. Set clear working boundaries

While technology may have brought huge benefits to your business, it has also blurred the lines between your work and personal life. YouGov research found that 60% of employees that use email for work check their inboxes while they’re on holiday, despite the fact that eight in ten people would prefer to ‘completely switch off’ while enjoying their annual leave.

As a business owner or senior exec, you may feel that keeping on top of emails leaves you more in control. However, it’s a habit that can harm your wellbeing and seriously affect your work-life balance. Even a few minutes checking emails in the evening means that work has infringed on your personal life.

To tackle this, it’s important to set clear boundaries. Consider switching off your work phone and putting your laptop away in a drawer when you finish work for the day. Try and switch off notifications in the evening so you’re not tempted to work.

It’s worth remembering that switching off in your personal life, and taking time to do the things you enjoy, can actually improve your focus and make you a better owner or manager. It will also boost your focus and productivity while you are working.

Get in touch

We specialise in helping business owners and senior execs to get more from their life. Financial planning can support your mental wellbeing in lots of ways, so please get in touch to find out what we can do for you. Email hello@sovereign-ifa.co.uk or call 01454 416 653.

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