Entrepreneurs are notoriously bad at having much of a personal life, as they tend to spend almost every waking hour working on their businesses. But this kind of dedication, while admirable, can have devastating effects on their health and happiness, and ultimately on the very organization they are trying to grow. That's why finding the right work-life balance is of undeniable importance for any business leader.
These six entrepreneurs discuss some of the best ways this balance can be achieved by putting much-needed personal time and your own health before business.
Be intentional with your time.
The first step is to acknowledge that your personal life has been coming second and to be intentional about changing this situation. “Intentionally separating my work life and personal life has had a big impact on my work-life balance,” reveals Bryan Kesler, founder of CPA Exam Guide.
Kesler is doing everything he can to leave work at work and truly disconnect when spending time with his loved ones: “I use apps like StayFocusd to block work-related apps on my phone when hanging out with family. When I'm out with my wife or friends, I leave my phone in the car. At home, I set work hours so that my wife and kids know not to bother me, and once work hours are up I transition into family time.”
Plan work around life.
Another important step that can bring you closer to balancing your professional and personal life is to start planning work around your life, and not the other way around.
“Everything has always been work first and then put life in where it fits,” says Angela Ruth of Calendar. “However, I reversed that. I have been putting life events and needs on the schedule first, and then fitting work in around them. It has led to more exercise, healthy eating and sleep, which has improved the quality of my work.”
Treat health as an investment.
If the previous two steps don’t work for you, try a more business-like approach and start treating your personal health as an investment necessary for your business’s prosperity. “In the past I've skipped workouts, healthy meals and more because I was ‘too busy working,’” says Robby Scott Berthume, CEO of Bull & Beard.
But Berthume soon realized he was looking at exercise and healthy living the wrong way: “If I cared about my company and its success, why would I not invest in its founder and CEO? Why not invest in being healthy, happy and productive? It's not selfish for entrepreneurs to be healthy and happy. For a long time, I thought it was.”
Sweat it out.
“If you aren't healthy, you can't be effective,” says Joel Mathew, founder and CEO of Fortress Consulting. “I stay balanced by hitting the gym and playing sports. I find it's the best way to unplug, compete in a different way and ultimately improve your health and focus.”
According to Mathew, there are many cognitive benefits to working out or breaking a sweat. “When I feel stuck on a project, I will hit the gym and usually come back refreshed and with clarity,” he explains.
Commit to quality sleep.
Aside from working out, maintaining a regimented sleep schedule is crucial to an entrepreneur’s personal health and long-term success, says Firas Kittaneh, co-founder and CEO of Amerisleep.
“When you burn the midnight oil to complete a project, you'll end up making that a regular habit, which can lead to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation and slow work performance,” Kittaneh explains. “Even when faced with deadlines, I always make sure to get a full night's rest. This minimizes the risk of major health issues and improves my overall happiness.”
Always make time for family.
“Regardless of the amount of work that I have in front of me, I always make time for family,” underlines Nicole Munoz of Nicole Munoz Consulting, Inc. According to Munoz, this approach is “a staple in our household, as it is in our business.”
To avoid feeling overwhelmed or not fully committed, the key is to “make sure that the time for family is set and stick to it,” she explains. “When the family unit is together and strong, it is empowering for the business you represent.”