5 steps to a healthy work-life balance when you're your own boss | Ladders

Being your own boss is hard. Take care of yourself and use these tips to inch closer to the work-life balance you need to keep from burning out.
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5 ways to separate life and work when you’re the boss of your own business

For many small business owners, your week is so overrun with meetings — not to mention requests from both clients and employees — that you have to spend the whole weekend catching your breath and getting ahead before Monday sends you into overdrive again. At the same time, while your small business has become such a deep-rooted part of your character because it was born out of your passion, you wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Welcome to the world of being your own boss. Here’s how to inch closer to the work-life balance you need to keep from burning out.

Work outside of your business and away from home

Mix things up by crossing things off your work to-do list in a coffee shop, a co-working space or a library instead of routinely bringing it all home with you.

All those hours spent cooped up at work — plus other obligations you need to tend to in the comfort of your own home — can make it difficult to focus on extra things you need to do to move your business forward. Take your work somewhere else to get in the right headspace.

Set ‘energy boundaries’

A big part of work-life balance for entrepreneurs boils down to energy management.

“What energy drains in your life need to be eliminated or minimized? Perhaps you have a few high maintenance clients that suck up all your energy, or maybe your cluttered office is dragging you down. Which energy refuelers must be present to help you maintain the energy you need for your life?”  Virtual Office Manager founder Lori Lear Young writes on LinkedIn.

Lear suggests taking a long weekend at minimum once a month as a way to re-energize.

Make your off-limits time crystal clear

Protecting your downtime might as well be another full-time job.

Alyssa Gregory, small business expert and founder of small business blog and online community Small Business Bonfire, writes on The Balance about how to “communicate your ground rules to clients.”’

She provides an example:

“Let’s say, for example, that you take off every Thursday afternoon to go to your daughter’s soccer games. You could just make a unilateral statement to all of your clients that you will be out of the office on Thursday afternoon, so they don’t expect a response to their messages. Or, you could share why you take off on Thursday afternoons to expand the personal element of your relationship with your clients. Either way, it’s important to make sure your clients know in advance that you will be unavailable during that time,” Gregory writes.

Prioritize self-care — for both yourself and your staff

Don’t just talk about self-care — live it, and model it for your employees so they know that they should also take care of themselves.

Peri Pakroo, business and communications consultant, and author of The Women’s Small Business Start-Up Kit, writes in Monster that entrepreneurs shouldn’t “ignore the obvious.”

“Live healthy. Eat well. Exercise regularly. Don’t drink too much. Laugh a lot. Smell the jasmine. Encourage your staff to do the same. These small quality choices will help to create a balanced approach to life and business that will benefit both,” she continues.

Make time for your family, friends, and hobbies

You may love your business, but you are not your company. Don’t let work consume you to the point where you forget who you really are.

The people who mean the most to you likely see you as much more than your professional achievements, and won’t necessarily define you based on how you’re faring as an entrepreneur (whether it’s going well or not). So remember what else makes you special by tapping into what they admire about you— other than your business prowess.

But it shouldn’t be all take, take take: do the same for them by lending an ear and propping them up.

As for hobbies, you were a person with other passions, goals and achievements before founding your business, and you will still have other interests once you retire.

So go be the person you’ve always wanted to be outside of work — take a class on dancing, pottery, exercise, cooking, you name it!

Carving out time to develop other strengths will help you approach life with new eyes — and hopefully, rose-colored glasses — more often.