Nearly four in five entrepreneurs believe they are spending too many hours at the office. Close to half work 50 to 60 hours or more each week. And 97 percent are working weekends. Entrepreneur® contributor Josh Steimle remarks, “There’s a prevalent attitude among entrepreneurs that the business, whatever that business is, comes first. It is the high priority that trumps everything else, including family, friends and especially health.”
When asked how they would spend their time if they could work fewer hours, the top three answers cited by business owners were:
With family and friends (31 percent)
Travelling for fun (23 percent)
Improving personal health (10 percent)
This e-newsletter will offer tips about how to accomplish these desires by promoting a workplace culture that values a balance between work, life and health.
- Family, friends and fun: Forbes® contributor and entrepreneur Alex Lawrence says, of any professional category of jobs, entrepreneurs have the highest rate of divorce. In addition, often they have difficulty maintaining lifelong friendships, perhaps due to time constraints or because, “it can be tempting to hang out with other entrepreneurs. They feel your pain. They speak your language.”
Set aside time to keep your friends and family a priority. Try to block time on your calendar (maybe a portion of the weekend) specifically for personal time. Flexing your work hours is another option. For instance, squeeze in an hour before everyone else starts their day to free up valuable evening time. Or, bank an hour or two after your family goes to sleep. As the saying goes, it’s not about having time, it’s about making time.
- Vacation: A survey by Expedia Canada found that 24 percent of Canadians don’t use all their vacation time—in fact, an average of two days are left on the table each year because people fear work will pile up while they’re away. But vacation is actually good for you and your business. The benefits associated with taking time off include increased mental power and productivity, improved physical and mental health, closer family relationships and decreased incidence of burnout.
Still feel overwhelmed about taking time to recharge? A little preparation and delegation may help. Plan your vacation well in advance and set expectations with clients, employees and business partners for your time off. For instance, if you won’t be checking email or phone calls, be sure to communicate that ahead of time. It may also be helpful to delegate tasks to another trusted employee or, if you’re running a one-person show, consider hiring someone to handle simple business matters that tend to pile up, such as phone calls or emails.
And, be sure to set a good example for your employees by practicing what you preach—use your vacation days to spend time with family and friends and decompress from work. Promote a vacation-friendly culture by rewarding those who use their full vacation time with a custom vacation celebration kit—perhaps a duffel with some Beach Towel Clips, sunscreen, a Grip-it Luggage Identifier and other fun vacation-themed gifts.
- Health and wellness: Stress, weight gain, depression and illness—these are just a few of the health risks associated with putting work before self. It isn’t always easy to fit in exercise, healthy eating and adequate sleep when you’re busy running a business, but they are a must. And they should be a must for your employees as well. After all, if you’re not caring for yourself, how can you possibly give your all to your business and your team?
Consider developing a wellness initiative that rewards healthy behaviour—encourage staff to monitor physical activity and calorie intake, and hold a contest that rewards improvement with health-inspired gifts, like fitness kits or wellness journals. Remember, a healthier team will contribute to a healthier business.
Achieving a healthy work-life balance as a busy entrepreneur isn’t easy. But neither was starting a business. Don’t let your hard work be for nothing. Take care of yourself and your employees; your business will follow.