Founder life and family life: how to balance both
You have a dream - you have a great idea for a startup and you want to jump straight in and make it work.
I admire your drive.
However, many people have said the same thing, tried it, and then quickly realised that the reality of the situation isn’t as pleasant as they thought.
You see, starting a business takes time - a lot of it. And there are only so many hours in any given day.
Not all of your time can be dedicated to work - you need to have a quality home and work-life balance that allows you to give your attention to other things, such as family, friends, and any other responsibilities you have.
Work to live, or live to work?
These days, the average age of a startup founder is around 35 years, and by that age, most people have some kind of responsibility to attend to.
Even if they don’t, it’s still important to have a little downtime to do, well, nothing.
For many years, we’ve had the idea drilled into our heads that we should get out there and make a difference. And yes, that’s true in some ways, but not at the expense of our relationships and our health.
Do you work to live, or do you live to work? If it’s the latter, you need to take a step back and understand what life is all about.
Work can easily sit alongside a family and personal life. It doesn’t have to be the ‘be all and end all’, nor should it be. All you need are a few tips that allow you to find the key balance that will, in essence, allow you to have it all.
Working more doesn’t guarantee success
You could be forgiven for assuming that if you do more hours of work, you’ll get more done and therefore grow your business faster.
Actually, you’re wrong.
A CNBC study found that the more hours you work, the less productive you are. The same study found that if you work more than 50 hours per week, your productivity starts to drop.
If you do just five more hours than that, productivity levels drop so severely that anything you do after that point is a waste of time.
When you look at it that way, you’re doing huge amounts of hours, but you’re not actually achieving anything.
All you’re doing is damaging your health, and relationships, and wasting time you could be spending with your nearest and dearest.
The rise of female founders
The World Economic Forum found that in 2021, 49% of businesses were founded by women in the US.
That’s a huge increase compared to previous years and the same pattern is being matched worldwide. However, it does raise valid questions about how to manage home life and entrepreneurship.
It’s very likely that women founders are asked about maintaining balance in their lives more than men. This is inherent sexism in many ways because, despite our progress over the years, women are still seen as the ones who should have babies and stay at home.
They’re considered the main caregivers and many wonder how this sits alongside founding and running a business.
The truth is, it’s no different for a woman to maintain a healthy home and work-life balance than it is for a man. It simply comes down to understanding boundaries and knowing your limitations.
Rather than questioning, perhaps we should simply celebrate the rise in female founders around the world.
Tips to master a home and work-life balance
So, with all this talk of finding balance, it’s time to be more proactive and actually understands how to achieve it.
No matter what kind of business you have founded, what your family situation is like, or what responsibilities you have outside of work, these tips will help you enjoy both sides of your life and find a sense of contentment and peace.
1. Don’t assume you have to do it all
You have an idea, you put it into action, and you start receiving backing to get it off the ground.
You’re excited and you feel proud of your progress. So, you feel like you need to do everything because you’re the one who started everything in the first place.
It’s very common to feel super-protective of your startup, but the truth is that you only have two pairs of hands and you don’t possess every skill required to run a business. So, you need to hire and you need to delegate.
Yes, it will be hard at first, but this is essential.
Hire people who have the skills you lack and delegate tasks to help you focus on the areas you’re the strongest. Building a team doesn’t mean you’re lacking, it means you’re growing.
2. Have daily personal time and don't cancel!
A little earlier we talked about how working extra hours doesn’t actually give you extra value. So, make sure you have daily personal time where you sit and do absolutely nothing. This isn’t a waste, it’s time for you to relax and unwind.
You also need to schedule regular time with family members and never cancel it. For instance, if you have children and they have a football game on a Saturday, make sure you are always there and that you’re fully immersed in it - don’t check your emails on the sidelines!
3) Maintain a hobby you enjoy
Having a hobby you love will make it far easier to switch off from work and focus on personal time. If you love going to the gym, do it daily. If you’re someone who adores cooking, make sure you cook dinner every night.
Whatever your hobby is, stick to it and don’t push it to one side.
This is one of the most common occurrences when someone starts a business - they look at their life and assume that hobbies are disposable and the time should be concentrated on work.
Wrong. If all you do is work, you’re not going to progress any faster and you’re going to feel burnt out instead.
4) Use your vacation time
Believe it or not, time off isn't a luxury, it's actually a necessity. We need time away from our regular routine and setting to unwind and relax.
Mental health is something all need to focus on much more and vacations are the ideal times to do just that.
Whether you go away alone or you head off with your family, make sure you do this regularly and you never take your work with you. Set your emails to ‘out of office’ and don’t be tempted to check in - not even once.
Lead by example and you'll foster a positive company culture.
5) Your friends are important too
I get it, your new business has become your baby and it feels all-consuming, but the truth is that your friends are more important.
It’s easy to push people to one side when you’re busy and assume that they’ll understand but that only lasts for so long.
If you push people out of your life because you’re too busy to find time for them, they’ll only put up with it for a while before they give up entirely.
No business is worth losing friends for. So, schedule regular time with friends and immerse yourself in that time completely.
6) Focus on health and wellbeing
If you’re healthy on the inside, you’ll have more time and energy for everything you need to balance in your life. That means eating a healthy, balanced diet, exercising regularly, and making sure you get enough sleep.
Your health and wellbeing affect everything in your life.
7) Set boundaries
To achieve balance, you need boundaries. Nothing will work without them.
A good example could be that you finish work at a set time every evening and you do not do any work or even check your messages until a set time the following morning.
You’re setting a boundary that evening time is personal/family time and cannot be encroached upon by work.
Another boundary could be that you never sit on the sofa or in bed doing your work. Instead, you set up a home office or you go to the physical office to do your daily tasks.
By working in your personal living space, you’re blurring the lines between home and work.
8) Use time management to work smarter
It’s about working smarter, not working more or harder. Remember, more hours doesn’t necessarily mean you get more done.
Time management techniques will help you to focus and use the time you have more effectively.
The Pomodoro Method, Eat The Frog, scheduling, prioritising, and daily planning are all great options that will allow you to maximise working hours and then switch off for personal time.
You know the saying, “all work and no play”. While you have every right to be totally engrossed in your startup because you’re proud of what you’re achieving, you need to remember that work is not your life.
Your personal time is just as important and by finding a balance, you’ll quickly notice that you have more energy and focus to spend on your business, during your set working hours.
More time doesn’t mean more work done. It simply means damage to other areas of your life and a cost to your health and wellbeing. You can manage both areas of your life, you simply need to follow these steps.
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