For anyone who is an Entrepreneur you will all appreciate that a work life balance whilst very important is very hard when running your own business.
Personally, this is something I have struggled with since day one and I don’t see it calming down anytime soon, I have come to the terms that this is just part of life as an entrepreneur. I thought for this month’s blog I would share how I try to weigh up a work life balance and ways that I have found help me relax.
The problem nowadays is technology, I always think how did businesses run 20/30 years ago when phones and laptops were non-existent. With technology becoming more and more advanced it’s even more difficult to switch off as you now have all your emails, social media and cloud drives accessible 24/7 from any device. Like many entrepreneur’s business was my hobby from the very beginning which makes it even more difficult to break away as its always something I have enjoyed and is very addictive (some days it actually makes you jealous of the Xbox players of the world).
A couple of years ago when my business really started to take off I decided to have two mobiles one for personal and one for business, it worked for about a week until my fiancé Laura reminded me one day that I had left my personal phone at home for days and had been using my business phone 24/7 so what was the point. I reverted to just the one phone and still do to this day, it’s easier as I think the simpler you can make your life the better – especially when your spinning a million plates.
Since then I have tried all sorts of ways in which I could try and break away from work when at home by deleting my email app or by just turning the phone off as soon as I pull up on the drive but I have come around to the fact that none of these will work for me. My business is my life and my phone is my support system, for me knowing that I haven’t checked my emails for an hour or two puts me on edge and I have found that as long as I check every so often to ensure there’s no emergencies I can relax and although at the beginning I was having to then action all of the emails there and then I have finally got to the stage where I can leave the ones that aren’t that important until the next day.
The biggest challenge I have found is trying to explain why I am like I am to others that aren’t entrepreneurs and who don’t run their own business. My Fiancé, Laura for example is someone who just couldn’t understand why I have the urge to want to check my emails all the time as she has always grown up with her parents who have had 9-5 jobs. I do often wonder how nice it must be to be able to come home and just switch off until 9am the next day but as nice as it sounds I just don’t think this would work for me. I always say to my friends who laugh at me when were out at the pub and I’m checking my emails that if they had their own business and people relied on them that they would understand too – I never want to miss an opportunity.
When working long hours, it can be hard to find the time to see your partner, friends or family. So I try to find times throughout my week for example when there may be a quite hour or two where I can pop to see my Grandparents (as they are only 5 minutes away from the office) so a couple of times a week I’ll go there for lunch. Sometimes Laura will meet me for lunch so we can just have a half hour catch up, it’s one of those things that you have to make work, so you find a way. I must admit it does take its toll and in the early days I would go days on days without really seeing anyone as I would be working non-stop, getting home and Laura would be asleep, but at the time we both knew it wouldn’t be like this forever and I had to do it to get the business up and running.
Even though I live with my fiancé, Laura it’s still hard to spend quality time together like going out etc. rather than staying in, if I know I’m working on the weekend, we will do something in the week like go out for dinner or visit the cinema. However we spend lots of time over the weekends together shopping, eating out and going to see the families (with the occasional reply to work emails). With relationships, you need to put yourself in your partner’s position (something I am guilty of not doing in the past) and think about how they feel about you nonstop working and that taking some time out to spend quality time with them will go a long way.
The saying that’s always used is “work hard, play hard” and this is definitely what you should do! Make the times you do have off count, do something special don’t just stay in. Enjoy what you’re working so hard for!
In December 2016, me and Laura found out we were expecting our first baby together, something that we have both always wanted and for me it was always one of the main reasons I wanted to start out in business young, so that hopefully by the time I would have children I could take time off and be around as when I was younger my dad was having to work so hard to provide for the family. We found out on Christmas Eve, my whole outlook on life changed within minutes as I knew I had to get a proper structure in place to ensure that I can get a proper balance and can be as relaxed as possible for Laura over the next coming months.
So now I go to work at least an hour early each day to ensure I can catch up on all my emails and get all my tasks actioned before the team turn up to make sure I am available in the day for meetings and any things that crop up (it’s never a dull day in the office at GripIt). Doing this I am always on top of things daily and although I check my emails on an evening I know I don’t have to action them, as I will be in early and get everything done the next day. It has completely transformed my life and I am even now managing to fit three personal training sessions in each week which is another thing I needed to do in advance of becoming a dad, getting fit.
But now I have most weekends free to spend quality time with Laura, family and friends, I can relax, knowing everything is on track and come Monday morning I will have an hour or two to deal with any emails I received over the weekend.
It’s important to get the work and personal balance right from the start to help control when and what to do at the right times and not forgetting the special things in life.