How to achieve a work-life balance

Posted on May 30, 2017 by ATB Chartered Accountants

For self-employed individuals, it is difficult to achieve a work-life balance. Countless people find themselves working longer hours, and working on weekends to ensure their business is running smoothly, and this generates a great deal of stress and exhaustion, both mentally and physically.

Work-life balance is becoming increasingly important in today’s business landscape, as the technology at our fingertips allows us to essentially be available to respond to emails and be on call 24/7. Work commitments should not impact on commitments in your daily life, and vice versa, however, many people are unable to find a balance between the two. It is difficult to achieve a work-life balance, particularly if you are working as a freelancer or a sole trader, but it is possible, and comes down to five main factors:

1. PRIORITISE

What is the most important to you in life? Whether it be spending time with your family, having time for exercise or socialising,it is important to define these personal priorities. When creating this list of priorities, it is important to consider what makes you happy, what your life’s purpose is, what gives you a sense of accomplishment, how would you like to be remembered, and if you stopped doing this thing, would you regret it. These priorities should then be listed in order, ranked from most important to you, to the least, and from here the top three should be focused on. Are there any specific things you can change or do in your life to ensure that you have the capacity to maintain these priorities? By prioritising your personal priorities, you can identify what needs to change in your current situation so that you can commit to a work-life balance.

2. STAY ON TOP OF YOUR FINANCES

Staying on top of your finances is a dreaded activity for many sole traders and contractors, and as a result, it normally gets left until the last minute and can take up a great deal of time. There are a number of technologies available to individuals to organise financial matters, including cloud-based accounting software that can assist with cash flow managent, sending quotes and invoices, sales, expenditure and even payroll matters. Not only do these technologies save you time and money, but they will also help you grow your business. Researching the range of accounting software available to you, including QuickBooks and Xero, will allow you to implement a software that will best match your needs.

3. GET ORGANISED

Looking back at your personal priorities as well as your business goals, how can you manage both of these in a way that doesn’t require any compromises. Some research into how successful people in the business world manage their work-life balance could provide insights in how you should look at setting your daily routine. An example of a daily routine that has a work-life balance might be:

  • set time to exercise
  • set three mini goals for the day (from your top three priorities)
  • make a list of work activities that need to be completed
  • improve productivity through implementing technology into your business
  • spend time with family or friends when you get home
4. COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY

Whether it is delegating tasks to employees, or providing instructions to contractors, clear communication at the beginning of a project saves time and energy in the long run. Clear communication isn’t only important for work commitments though. Some work commitments might spring up unexpectedly and throw your work-life balance off, and during these times it is equally as important to clearly communicate this to your family, friends and employees. Not only is the initial communication, but if the increase in workload is not temporary, you might need to reevaluate your priorities and schedule to see if anything needs to be changed. Outsourcing minor, mundane tasks could be another option to return back to your work-life balance.

5. SPEND YOUR TIME WISELY

If you allow yourself to be continuously distracted during your workday, you will probably have a great deal of work to catch up on when you could be achieving a work-life balance and doing things you actually enjoy. For sole-traders who work from home, a work-life balance is tricky as tasks can be blurred. Again, it is important to define your priorities, stay on top of your finances, get organised, and communicate effectively so that you can stay on track to achieve your work-life balance.