The term "work-life balance" is ubiquitous for entrepreneurs. It's a topic so prevalent that Inc gave it a channel, and many job-searchers prioritize it when considering companies.

But what if perfect work-life balance isn't ideal or even realistic? After all, at least eight hours a day are spent at work, six to eight on sleep if you're lucky, and several of the remaining eight to ten hours are spent commuting, handling errands, or other tasks that aren't considered "life" time. That's not a balance.

Furthermore, a strict schedule that compartmentalizes work and life doesn't allow for the unexpected. Entrepreneurs face countless variables and situations that can't be put on pause so that they can leave the office at exactly five, and clinging to a strict routine when situations change can cause the stress the routine was intended to eliminate.

Instead of chasing after perfect work-life balance, entrepreneurs should take the more flexible and forgiving approach of work-life flow.

Set Priorities, Not Boundaries

Work-life balance hinges on strict time boundaries, while flow allows you to prioritize tasks based on your energy level and the kind of work you have on your plate.

For example, you may have a project that will require you to work 12-hour days for a few weeks. Depending on how you feel going into the project, you can plan to take it easy beforehand to gain energy, or plan to take vacation time afterwards to recoup.

Unlike a compartmentalized schedule that limits your work and relaxation to specified times during the day, flow allows you to dedicate time and focus where they're needed over the long term, whether for work or for rest.

Get Rid of Guilt

Guilt is one of the biggest problems with the idea of work-life balance. The guilt of veering from a compartmentalized schedule keeps you from paying attention to warning flags in your energy levels. You may power through stress and exhaustion to complete a task, but the quality of the work will suffer and you'll then spend the time you planned for relaxation feeling guilty about not doing your best work.

I answer a good chunk of my emails from home early in the morning while my coffee is still brewing and am typically at the gym for more than an hour during the day. I almost always tackle writing at home in the evening or on the weekend. Sometimes I work ten-hour days for two weeks, and sometimes I release my team (and myself) early on Fridays to enjoy nice weather. Because my priorities are clear and I meet my business goals, I have no reason to feel guilty about how I divide my time.

Be Honest With Yourself and Others

The most common critiques of work-life flow relate to family life or a need to escape from work.

Flow is certainly easier to achieve if you're single and have no children because your time is only yours, but it's not impossible if you have a family, and it encourages open communication and honesty.

Set expectations with your partner and/or children that there will be times when work will require your focus, but when they have your attention, ensure they have it completely (put down that phone). Non-negotiable times like date nights and family vacations are great ways to prioritize your relationships, and they emphasize the quality of your time together rather than the quantity.

If you feel a deep desire to escape from work, the issue may be more about the job itself versus the way you organize your time. No one should hate his or her job so much they count down the minutes until they leave. If that describes you, you should consider a career move.

Stress is inevitable as an entrepreneur, but it doesn't have to be a high-level constant. If you're in tune with your energy levels and know how to prioritize, you can achieve work-life flow that gives you focus, well-being, and satisfaction in your all aspects of your life.