As someone who is self-employed, do you ever feel like your life is totally out of whack? Like you can’t find alignment in any area of your life, no matter how hard you try? Well, you aren’t alone. Finding work-life balance is a challenge that most of us find ourselves continually seeking.
In this article, we’re going to show you some ways to get closer to the mark.
What is Work-Life Balance?
The term “work-life” balance gets thrown around so much that it’s almost lost its meaning. So, what the heck is it?
According to BetterUp, “Healthy work-life balance refers to maintaining a harmonious relationship between your work and personal life. It involves consciously managing your time and energy to meet both professional and personal commitments while prioritizing self-care and well-being.”
In a perfect world, that means you wake up and have “you” time. Then you go to work and put in “work” time. After getting home, you spend time with family and friends. There’s also time for taking care of yourself and engaging in hobbies. It’s about finding adequate time for everything that’s meaningful to you, with a healthy balance between stress/exertion and relaxation/replenishing.
Now, there’s certainly an argument to be made that true work-life balance doesn’t exist. But for most of us, there’s plenty of room for growth in this area. Even if perfect balance isn’t obtainable, it’s something that we should shoot for. The benefits are clear:
- Increased productivity
- Happier day-to-day life
- Higher self-esteem
- Improved physical health
How Self-Employed People Can Find Balance
As you know, working for yourself brings with it a number of key advantages. However, it also presents challenges – particularly when it comes to achieving balance. Without the structured environment of traditional employment, you have to grapple with blurred boundaries between your professional and personal lives, sometimes leading to overwork, stress, and burnout.
At the risk of making this challenge sound easy, here are several steps you can take to find greater balance:
- Define What Work-Life Balance Means to You
You can’t find balance if you don’t know what balance looks like for you (specifically). That’s because your version of balance is entirely different than someone else’s. For you, this may look like working four 12-hour days and then totally disconnecting for three days. For others, it may mean dividing up your day between personal and professional time. For others, it’s a hybrid.
Once you know what your definition of balance is, set some goals. It’s crucial to be realistic about what you can achieve in a given time and to set expectations that align with your definition of balance. Setting unattainable goals will only lead to frustration and burnout. Break down your goals into manageable tasks, and allow flexibility in your schedule.
- Build the Right Business Models and Systems
When you’re a self-employed business owner, you call the shots. That means you can create a business model and put systems in place that fuel the pursuit of your unique definition of work-life balance.
For example, let’s say you’re a real estate investor. It’s worth the cost to hire a property management company like Green Residential to oversee the day-to-day operations of your portfolio so that you can reallocate that time to other, more important, big-picture tasks.
- Establish Boundaries and Structure
It’s up to you to put boundaries and structures in place to preserve balance. This will look different for everyone. Examples include:
- Create a designated workspace that’s not in your living room, bedroom, or kitchen
- Set very clear working hours and break hours
- Use technology to automate and streamline repetitive tasks
- Require people to schedule time on your calendar
You’re the only one who fully respects your pursuit of work-life balance. By establishing boundaries, you make it easier for others to fit into your mold (rather than the other way around).
- Learn to Say No
One of the best things you can do for your sanity is to learn how to say no with confidence and grace. This is a crucial skill that most business owners and self-employed individuals don’t take the time to develop. As a result, they end up being pushed and pulled in multiple directions at once, leading to exhaustion, burnout, and general feelings of apathy.
Saying no to things that don’t fit your core pursuits and focus helps you protect your time, maintain focus, and emphasizes quality over quantity. And, ultimately, it allows you to enjoy greater work-life balance.
Saying no isn’t always easy, but it’s often necessary. It starts with a clear understanding of what your circle of responsibility and focus is. Then you can ruthlessly eliminate anything that doesn’t fall into that sphere.
When declining an opportunity, express your gratitude for the offer. A polite response shows professionalism and maintains good relationships. If you’re declining due to a heavy workload or prior commitments, explain your situation honestly. People often appreciate honesty and are more likely to understand.
- Prioritize Self-Care
It’s important to recognize that time away from work is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Regular breaks and leisure activities fuel creativity, reduce stress, and enhance overall well-being. Whether it’s a walk, a hobby, or time with friends and family, scheduling time for activities you enjoy helps replenish energy and focus.
This prioritization of self-care plays out in many ways, but don’t underestimate the need for sleep. Physical health is the cornerstone of mental and emotional well-being. A consistent sleep schedule ensures adequate rest, while a regular exercise routine boosts mood and energy levels. These are fundamental in maintaining overall health and productivity, especially when you’re managing the demands of working for yourself.
Adding it All Up
The equilibrium point of your life is constantly moving. What you consider work-life balance today might be different in three, five, or 10 years. So it’s important that you don’t ever get too comfortable. Continually reevaluate your priorities and look for ways to engage yourself on multiple levels (physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, financially, etc.).
The more you invest in this area, the greater the rewards will be.