What is Work-Life Balance?
What is work-life balance and why does it matter? Work-life balance is the idea that a fulfilling life outside of work helps improve work performance while reducing stress. It involves finding a balance between your professional and personal life so, that you can enjoy both without feeling overwhelmed or dissatisfied. Work-life balance can vary depending on your individual needs and preferences, so it’s important to find what works best for you. A good work-life balance can help you reduce stress, improve your mental health, and increase your productivity and happiness.
One of the challenges that many solopreneurs face is finding a balance between their work and their personal life. Working too much can have negative consequences on your physical, mental, and emotional health, such as causing stress, fatigue, burnout, and dissatisfaction. On the other hand, having a fulfilling life outside of work can help improve well-being, happiness, and productivity.
Therefore, it is important to find a balance that suits your individual needs and preferences. This is what work-life balance means, and this blog post will explore some of the causes, effects, and solutions of working too much. By the end of this post, you will better understand what work-life balance means, why it is important, and how you can achieve it.
Are you working too much?
Recognising that you are working ‘too much’ can be a surprisingly hard thing to spot. It basically boils down to being overloaded at work, and spending more hours or effort on work than is healthy or necessary, to the extent that it starts negatively impacting your personal life and wellbeing. It can affect anyone who has a job, but it is especially prevalent among sole traders like you, who face unique challenges and pressures in your work. After all, balancing the demands of work and personal life is particularly challenging when you’re the one-woman show behind your business.
According to a 2019 survey by IPSE, the UK’s association for the self-employed, 45% of self-employed people said they worked more than 40 hours per week, and 17% said they worked more than 48 hours per week. The side effects of working too much are the negative impacts it has on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being, as well as on your personal and professional life.
Solopreneurs often find themselves working excessively due to the blurred boundaries between personal and professional lives. The autonomy that comes with being self-employed, while empowering, can also lead to an unrelenting work ethic. The desire to achieve success, coupled with the responsibility of managing every aspect of your business, can result in working far too many hours and you heading for burnout.
Are you heading for Burnout?
Failing to nurture a healthy work-life balance can lead to burnout. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by prolonged or excessive stress. Essentially: your job is stressful, and you are not taking enough breaks to protect your wellbeing.
According to a 2020 survey by Gallup, 48% of employees reported feeling burned out at work sometimes, and 21% reported feeling burned out always. This means that burnout is not a rare or isolated phenomenon, but a widespread and serious issue that needs to be addressed.
Key Burnout Symptoms at Work:
- Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion: You constantly feel tired or drained.
- Increased mental distance from your job: You may experience feelings of negativism or cynicism related to your work.
- Reduced professional efficacy: You doubt your abilities and may procrastinate or take longer to complete tasks.
Burnout can affect anyone who feels overwhelmed and overworked in their job but is especially prevalent in sole traders. Unlike traditional employees, solopreneurs often wear multiple hats, from CEO to office supplies manager to marketing executive and beyond, making the lines between work and personal life blurrier. Running your own business can be incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with countless challenges, stresses, and responsibilities that make maintaining a healthy work-life balance challenging. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed and heading for burnout.
Burnout can have negative impacts on your health, happiness, and performance, as well as your relationships, career, and personal life. Workplace burnout is now so widespread that, in 2019 the World Health Organization declared burnout an occupational phenomenon.
Be aware of the early predictors and signs of burnout, so that you can take action to avoid it.
How solopreneurs can nurture a healthy work-life balance.
Finding a balance between your professional and personal life will mean you can enjoy both without feeling overwhelmed or dissatisfied. It involves allocating your time and energy to the different aspects of your life, such as your work, your family, your friends, your hobbies, and your health. A good work-life balance can help you reduce stress, improve your mental and physical health, and increase your productivity and happiness.
Here are some tips and strategies to achieve a better work-life balance:
Create a realistic schedule. As a solopreneur, your time is a precious resource. Allocate specific time slots for work, breaks, and personal activities. Prioritize tasks by figuring out your high-priority tasks and tackling them during your peak productivity hours. This ensures that you make the most of your working time.
Establish clear work hours for yourself. Define the boundaries between work and personal life by setting specific working hours. Communicate these hours to clients and contacts to manage expectations.
Learn to say no: As tempting as it may be to take on every opportunity, saying no when necessary is crucial for maintaining a work-life balance.
We all have aspects of business that we struggle with – either due to a lack of time, a lack of inclination, or because they fall outside of our skill set. Consider outsourcing them. For example, hiring a virtual assistant means you can offload some of your time-consuming administrative work. By delegating tasks, you will free up some time to strike a healthier work-life balance.
Make Self-Care a priority.
Solopreneurs often neglect self-care, considering it a luxury. I’m telling you that it’s an absolute necessity! By placing your well-being at the bottom of your to-do list, you will gradually diminish your business’s greatest asset: you.
Schedule downtime. Just as you schedule work tasks, prioritize and schedule downtime for relaxation, hobbies, and spending time with your loved ones. Take regular breaks, get some exercise, and make sure you sleep enough. These simple acts of self-care contribute to better overall health and productivity.
Have a Tech Detox
Set yourself boundaries for technology use, especially during your personal time. This can be a challenge if you work from home or have work emails pinging up on your smartphone 24 hours a day.
Make sure your clients know your designated work hours and manage their expectations at the outset by telling them you will respond to enquiries during that window only. Put your work phone on ‘do not disturb’ outside of your working hours.
Avoid checking emails or responding to work-related messages during designated non-working hours. It blurs boundaries and means your clients will come to expect an immediate response at all hours of the day and night. Yes, it can take 30 seconds to reply to an email, but even this spikes your stress levels and stops you from switching off from work completely. To strike a healthy work-life balance, it is essential that you maintain this firm boundary between work hours and downtime.
Invest in yourself.
You are your business’s single greatest asset, so investing in your personal development is crucial. This can mean enhancing your skills and knowledge to streamline your work processes, or by working with a Business Coach to learn how to increase your efficiency and reduce stress in the long run. Working with a Business Coach is a great way to develop a mindset that safeguards your work-life balance, so that you can avoid burnout, meaning that you – and your business – can thrive.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance can be challenging for solopreneurs, requiring much intentional effort and self-awareness. By using the strategies in this blog, you should be able to achieve a harmonious blend of work and personal life and avoid burnout.
Owning a business often blurs the line between work and personal life, so firm boundaries are key. Prioritising self-care helps establish a healthier work-life balance, preventing the negative effects of constant work-related stress on your relationships, personal growth, and overall happiness.
Remember, achieving balance is an ongoing process, and success lies in the ability to navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship while maintaining a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle.
As an award-winning Business Coach, I have many years of experience helping female solopreneurs like you achieve a healthy work-life balance. Get in Touch to find out how I can help you build and grow a business and a lifestyle that you can truly enjoy.