Running your own business can take over your entire life if you let it, but achieving balance is not only essential for the health of your body and mind but also for the health of your business. You can be too involved in a business, sometimes meaning that you lose site of the bigger picture. Having a well-rounded lifestyle can be really beneficial for your company and your employees. I set some strict boundaries for myself after my first few months in business meaning that I don’t get burnt out, I still get to see my family friends and I get to enjoy a lifestyle that I’ve always wanted. Making more money is not always at the forefront of my mind; instead I think how can I run a successful business whilst still enjoying the lifestyle I have? Here are some things that help me achieve balance in everyday life:
This concept is borrowed from Arianna Huffington and her book Thrive which I found massively influential. Introducing time as a ‘state of mind’ instead of something over which we have no control is to me a very interesting concept. Huffington speaks about ones attitude towards time and how important that is. Rather than letting the minutes run away from you, you can change your mindset and programme your brain to believe you are affluent in time, meaning you don’t need to be rushing around like a mad woman all day. It’s using the age-old phrase, ‘stopping to smell the flowers’. It’s living life more mindfully, enjoying each minute and each second without constantly thinking about your never ending to do list and how you’re going to fit it into the few hours you have in the day. Instead think about the many hours you have in the day. Don’t be busy for the sake of being busy, otherwise we lose the joy and the enjoyment in each day.
The Power of 8
When I first read about ‘the power of 8’ in the wonderful book Winning without Losing by Jordan Milne and Martin Bjergegaard, it was a massive revelation to me. The idea is whoever you are, wherever in the world you were born and into whatever circumstances, we all have 24 hours in a day. Divide this by three and we have the number 8. So let’s think about how we fill those hours in our day. If we say we sleep for 8 hours, work for 8 hours then we still have 8 hours left over to spend at our leisure. That’s a lot of time. When we think about it like that, it sounds like we have a lot of free time though few of us really feel that way. My advice is to protect those hours and make sure you fill them with things that you enjoy and make you happy whether that’s learning to play an instrument, training for a marathon or just spending time with family and friends. Those hours are precious so try not to let work eat into them. Of course there’ll be times when you need to dedicate a few extra hours to your business but let that not become the norm.
Use technology but don’t let it use you
Technology is a wonder; it allows us to pick up emails whilst we’re doing the school run, speak to potential clients over the other side of the world and share documents over this great thing they call ‘The Cloud’. It gives us the freedom to work from any location and it also helps us be more efficient and access a never-ending world of information. But it can also fill our minds and time with unnecessary trash and often hours are sunk into browsing social media sites, reading funny Buzzfeed posts and watching videos of dogs falling off diving boards. But does this really add value to our lives? Probably not. Downtime is important but I would advise you to spend that time away from your screen, as I believe that’s when we benefit the most. Avoid the temptation to check emails and social media sites throughout the evenings (unless that’s when you work) and instead step away from your devices and get old school with a book or some healthy human interaction.
Downtime is important but I would advise you to spend that time away from your screen, as I believe that’s when we benefit the most.
Look after your body
I never let myself feel guilty for taking time away from my business to exercise. If my body is healthy, then my mind is healthy and that’s when I produce my best work. My business hangs on my wellbeing so I don’t allow myself to skip yoga classes or running sessions unless it’s a real emergency. It’s tempting to use those hours to catch up on your emails or tick a couple more things off your to-do list but the benefit of movement and exercise is immeasurable to our bodies and helps hugely to manage stress levels.
Don’t be tempted to shave hours off your snooze time in order to get things done. Granted some people can survive on less but I need a full eight hours to be at my best so most nights I make sure I get that. Don’t underestimate the power of a rested and fully charged mind and body.
Batch your tasks
Achieving balance is also about learning to work more efficiently so you can get more done and really enjoy your ‘you time’. Batching tasks makes doing them quicker – you get into the swing of carrying out that activity and means you’re not constantly switching tasks. Allocate time slots for these things and try not to get interrupted by constantly checking your emails. I set my mail to only deliver emails to me once an hour and although I can be guilty of pressing the send/receive button in between, I generally try to wait until they appear in my inbox. I do all my invoicing and finances on a Thursday afternoon and writing tasks on a Tuesday morning. I also try and fit all of my meetings into one or two days of the week so I can leave at least two days to carry out some actual work at my desk.
Deciding whether to outsource something can be a tough call but if you genuinely don’t enjoy that activity and your time could be better used elsewhere then employ someone else to do it. After the initial training and transition period, it should be relatively stress free, meaning you have more time to spend on the things you enjoy. Tasks you could be outsourcing are invoicing, general admin, research tasks, diary management, cleaning etc.
Meditation is to your mind what exercise is to your body. It’s a form of training that can have huge health benefits and is especially known for helping people achieve a balanced lifestyle and outlook. If you like the idea but don’t know where to start, try the app Headspace, the book Quiet the Mind, An Illustrated Guide on how to Meditate or join a class to start off with.
Meditation is to your mind what exercise is to your body.
Learn to switch off
It’s impossible to achieve a balanced lifestyle if you can’t learn to switch off from your business. It’s important to remember that you are more than your work. Think back to before you started your business – were you any less of a person? Of course not. Starting and running a business of course shapes who you are but don’t let it define you. Take time to enjoy the things you like doing without always having one eye on your inbox. I personally like yoga for switching off – it helps us to connect to ourselves and focus on the here and now. Get lost in something that isn’t your business whether that is cooking, gardening or watching a good movie.
Mel Hales is the Director of Rush Talent: www.rushtalent.co.uk