Early in my career, I struggled with striking a balance between my work and my personal life. I quickly found that being a workaholic was a recipe for disaster, so I took steps to create a schedule that allowed me to optimize my time and energy and focus on the things that mattered most to me.
I know how easily entrepreneurs can get sucked into unhealthy work habits and schedules. After all, the climb to success is more demanding than ever. But being a one-dimensional workaholic who doesn't have a life outside the office can take a tremendous physical and emotional toll on you. The success you achieve this way isn't worth as much if you're alone, unhealthy, and/or unhappy.
That's why establishing a schedule that really works for you--that creates balance among work, life, and play--is critical to becoming a well-rounded, happy, fulfilled person and a successful businessperson.
Scheduling Your Week for Success
My typical week consists of work from 9 to 5 on Monday through Thursday and during the mornings on Friday. I reserve Friday afternoons for "think work," like coming up with new projects or solving business problems. On evenings and weekends, I focus on myself, my interests, my friends and family, and relaxation. And if something comes up--like business travel or networking events--I have the flexibility to weave those into my routine.
This schedule works for me because it creates balance in my hectic life. I get to do the work I love while still taking care of myself. But this schedule may not be possible--or desirable--for everyone, which is why you need to work out a routine that fits your unique life.
Here are some tips for creating your own balanced schedule:
1. Identify your priorities. Make a list of what's most important in your life--your family, friends, fitness, mental clarity, overall well-being, faith, and/or hobbies--so you can clearly see the things you need or want to work into your daily schedule.
2. Fit work into your lifestyle, not vice versa. If you often log long hours or work seven days a week, elevate the time you need for yourself and your priorities outside of work. See if you can structure a schedule to fit your work around your lifestyle instead of trying to build a life around your work schedule.
3. Set and communicate your boundaries. Once you've worked out a schedule, stick to your time boundaries. Avoid working during personal time or letting your personal time interfere with business as much as you can. Communicate these boundaries to the people in your life so they can help you commit to them.
4. Look for ways to conserve time. Try to eliminate activities that waste your time every week. For example, if you sit in traffic for hours during your commute, try working from home one or more days a week. Or you could schedule several infrequent appointments (such as doctor or dental visits, car maintenance, etc.) in one day to optimize your productivity.
5. Work when you're at your best. Schedule business tasks like meetings and conference calls for days or times when you have the most energy and focus. If you get burnt out by Friday, stack your work duties earlier in the week. If you're not a morning person, schedule important meetings for later in the day.
As an entrepreneur, attending to your work is essential for building your business. But creating a balanced life is the key to sustained success in the office and at home. Aim to structure your time so you can meet both personal and professional obligations, then establish, communicate, and maintain healthy boundaries so you can actually live the lifestyle you desire. It's doable!