One of the biggest challenges that you will face as an entrepreneur is maintaining work-life balance. According to a survey from The Alternative Board, 19 percent of entrepreneurs work 60+ hours per week, 30 percent work 50-59 hours a week, and just 19 percent work fewer than 40 hours a week.
Of course, no one said that realizing your dreams would be easy. You’ll need to burn a lot of the midnight oil to get an edge; that’s just part of the game.
Still, giving everything to your work and “marrying” your business comes at a price – i.e., you’ll have very little time and energy left to enjoy other areas of your life, including, possibly, your real marriage. This may seem like a worthwhile sacrifice for a brief period of time, such as when you are getting the business off the ground or breaking into a new market, but in the long term, it’s just not sustainable.
According to The Alternative Board’s survey, very few entrepreneurs actually want to be working such long hours. Only 1 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to work 60+ hours a week, and 56 percent of the respondents said they’re rather be working fewer than 40 hours a week.
The good news is, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are changes you can make that should help you restore the work-life balance that your entrepreneurship seems to have chased away:
1. Get a Business Partner
An excellent way to improve your work-life balance is to find a business partner who can share the administrative burdens of sales, marketing, finance, and management. A business partner can provide cover for you, meaning that you don’t have to work when you are sick, you can take holidays again, and you can even attend your child’s nativity play.
If you find the right business partner, you can team up to grow your business more quickly and become more efficient and profitable, once again reducing the time you need to actually work.
Of course, finding a business partner is not a risk-free endeavor, so do a little research first.
2. Delegate more
You may be overloaded simply because you don’t delegate enough. It’s common for entrepreneurs to struggle to delegate effectively, which often means that they become bogged down with tasks on top of tasks.
If you delegate more responsibility to other members of your business, you will have less actual work to do, meaning you won’t be chained to the office, giving you the opportunity to restore your work-life balance.
3. Reduce the Number of Direct Reports You Have
Experts suggest that the ideal number of direct reports that a boss should have is about five. If you have many more than that, you will spend a significant amount of time fielding queries, which will increase the amount of work you have to handle and reduce the time you have to work on more important things, like business strategy.
If you are overloaded and you have more than five people reporting to you, consider delegating some management responsibility to other members of the organization. This should help to reduce your work burden. If you need some help, check out these tips on effective delegation.
4. Set Some Clear Boundaries
One of the simplest and most powerful ways to restore work-life balance is to budget your working hours each week (or month, if you need more flexibility).
So, let’s say you create a work budget of 45 hours per week, but you currently find you are averaging 56 hours a week. You are running 11 hours in the red, and you need to look at ways to recover this time. To do this, start by timesheeting your hours for a few weeks to find out exactly what you are doing. Analyze your timesheets and ask yourself questions like:
- Are all these tasks essential?
- Could someone else do these tasks as well as or better than I could?
- Is there a more efficient way to complete some of the tasks?
- Are these tasks yielding a return, or are they a waste of time?
At the end of this exercise, you should be able to find ways to reduce your working hours significantly and stick to your time budget.
If you are unhappily married to the business, the good news is that you have it within your power to reduce your workload and restore your work-life balance without sacrificing productivity.
In fact, if you do it right, you may be able to actually increase productivity and profitability at the same time as you are decreasing your time spent at work.