Most business owners and entrepreneurs are always on the grind.
It has become somewhat popular to proclaim yourself as a hustler and workaholic who puts in long hours and believes that’s the only way to achieve success.
And we have the evidence for that claim.
According to his biographer, Steve Jobs had an amazing work ethic and used to work from 7 AM to 9 PM every day when he returned to Apple back in 1996. The results of his 14-hour workday are visible even to this day – the company went from rags to riches under his leadership and is today worth more than $1 trillion.
Similarly, Elon Musk recently said that he works 120 hours a week as that’s the only way to keep Tesla afloat.
This glorification of hard work has become a thing, but is it possible that the only way to make it is to lay our health, personal life, and meaningful relationships on the line?
What’s less frequently mentioned in the business world is that the powerful, motivational stories of those mentioned above are just one side of the coin; the other one has burnout, and some even more severe health issues written all over it.
Karoshi, or death by overwork, is a recognized phenomenon in Japan. Many people suffer from heart failure or stroke due to overtime.
Let’s see why we need work-life harmony and how to achieve it.
1. It Boosts Productivity and Creativity
Our hectic entrepreneurial schedules get the better of us. We’re tired, absent-minded, and always racing against the clock to meet deadlines. We exhaust our brains.
Such conditions hinder productivity and creativity, because no matter how pumped and passionate you are about your business, your body and mind need rest and relaxation to thrive.
And that’s not just common sense.
Studies have shown that so-called “incubation effect,” that is allowing your subconscious mind to recombine different thought elements while resting and shed new light on a problem, which results in a new perspective on things and fresh ideas.
So, by cutting yourself some slack and taking a break from work, you’re actually letting your brain work in the background and achieve the eureka moment. According to researchers, this is by no means an accidental and unexpected phenomenon, but the result of a careful consideration of all the circumstances and then letting everything simmer by doing something else that won’t take up all of your brain’s mental bandwidth – going for a run, watching your favorite show, or taking a nap.
Let’s not forget that some of the most important discoveries which disrupted our world happened during daydreaming. That’s how Isaac Newton discovered gravity and Archimedes had a flash of insight about the principle of specific gravity: the former was idling around his parents’ farm, and the latter was enjoying a bath.
2. It Will Prevent Burnout
When you work all the time, your energy is drained.
And, it’s only natural to replenish it by letting your body and mind relax.
If you ignore this and keep on pushing yourself too hard and beyond your limits, you’re at huge risk from burnout.
According to the Gallup Wellbeing Index, 45% of entrepreneurs say they’re stressed.
All of us are aware that growing a business is full of challenges, stress, and sleepless nights, and if that’s all there is in your life, you won’t be able to go on like this forever.
Not allowing yourself to unwind and enjoy in regular, non-work related activities, will result in feeling overwhelmed and unable to cope with your daily activities and meet the constant demands of entrepreneurship.
You’ll find yourself in a state of helplessness, hopelessness, and a complete inability to deal with even some minor obstacles.
In a nutshell, your motivation and enthusiasm will start ebbing away, and the feeling that you’re on a conveyer belt will set in, rendering you unproductive and uncreative.
Burnout will affect, or to be more precise, ruin your health, relationships, and ultimately, your business – something that you’ve fought so hard to build and grow.
I’ve painted a bleak picture, but things don’t have to be this way.
Work-life harmony is the only way to prevent this worst-case scenario.
3. It Allows You to Enjoy the Little Things in Life
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
You might think that this quote is corny, but you can’t deny it’s true.
Our life is full of small moments that we usually fail to notice and appreciate, and when everything sums up, it’s those seemingly small and unimportant moments that count and matter the most.
Coming back home in the evening to have dinner with your family, a night out with your friends, your kid’s first soccer game, or taking your dog for a walk in the morning are some of the things that entrepreneurs constantly miss out on.
And what’s ironic about this is that many of us embark on the entrepreneurial journey for our family to have a better life. However, it’s easy to lose track and start chasing a pie in the sky instead of focusing on and living in the present moment.
Ways of Mastering Work-Life Harmony
Now that we’ve established how important it is to balance your career and personal life, let’s see how to actually do it.
1. Schedule Me Time
Yes, just like you do with your meetings with other people. This way, you’ll reserve a time slot in advance and organize yourself to make it to this necessary appointment.
Let’s be honest and admit that if you wait for the moment when you’re not too busy or meeting a deadline to treat yourself to a spa day or the cinema will never come unless you put it in your calendar and stick to it.
2. Create a dedicated workspace
One of the perks of being an entrepreneur is the chance to work from home. But this blessing can also be a curse if you don’t have a dedicated work space.
Given that work usually tends to spill over into our personal, family life, it’s important to keep it physically separated by not working from the living room or, worse, bedroom. This will help you be more productive and disciplined while reducing distractions.
It will be much more pleasant to come to a work and stress-free environment after a hard day at work–something that you won’t have a chance to do if you’re working from your couch or kitchen table.
3. Set Some Boundaries
Being an entrepreneur often means receiving calls and emails all day long. It also means saying yes to a number of meetings, many of which won’t bring you particular benefits.
It’s hard to say no, but that’s one of the first things to do when starting a business. It will save you from wasting a lot of time and energy. Also, make sure to mute your notifications while you’re unwinding or having a family outing, no matter how hard it is.
Being in control of every single aspect of your business and wearing many hats is the way many entrepreneurs operate. But, it’s important to understand that there are tasks that you can easily and successfully delegate, and have more time and energy to focus on certain really important and creative things that require your undivided attention.
Think about outsourcing your calls, invoicing, customer issues, reporting, and marketing, as a) you already have a lot on your plate b) there are people who can do that better.
5. Don’t Neglect Your Hobbies
No, your business isn’t your hobby no matter how much you love what you do. It’s essential to clear your mind and allow the incubation process that we’ve already mentioned, to start. Find activities and interests that have nothing to do with your business and pursue them. This is the best way to prevent burnout and becoming fed up with what you do for a living.
Work-life harmony isn’t just another buzzword that the self-help and mindfulness industries have invented, but a crucial factor responsible both for the success of your business and your entire life.
Work smarter, not harder should become your personal mantra. The purpose of your business is to help you have a better and a more fulfilled life, so make sure not to become its slave and hostage.