As entrepreneurs, it is really hard to not think about your business or your ideas. There is always so much to work on, it may seem like the To Do list gets longer the more you’re away from “work”. You may even feel guilty for not working when you’re at home or — on vacation (gasp).
You’re not alone!
Here are some recommendations for how to separate your personal and work life as an entrepreneur.
First, let’s clarify that it should be hard to turn off your work mind. This is your life’s purpose. Don’t fight it.
Instead, be intentional about how your approach your work and personal life. If necessary, set boundaries that allow you to focus on other important aspects of your life — like family, relaxation, or other hobbies and interests.
1. Realize & Identify A Problem
The first step to fixing a problem is to identify it.
If you feel that there is a problem — perhaps you feel guilty for not spending time with your family, or your health is taking a beating as a result of your long hours at work — then start by identifying the root of the problem you are facing.
As humans, we are all wired to function differently. Some can multitask the various needs and demands of entrepreneurship while others excel in structure or patterns. This means that we all handle the various stresses that accompany entrepreneurship differently.
If you continually worry about your To Do list or unproductive stress, clearly identify those as problems. Next, I’ll talk about how to deal with them individually.
2. Identify Your Priorities
Just like we all have different skills and abilities, we all have different priorities. To effectively separate your work and personal lives, you must identify your priorities in each.
Make a list of what is important to you, in both the personal and professional categories. Perhaps it’s family time and picking your kids up from school. Maybe responding to client emails or shipping your product the same day it is ordered. Regardless, mark out what is a priority to you.
Next, schedule how much time is needed, and how often, those priorities need to appear on your schedule.
For me, I have some non-negotiable events on my schedule. They include:
- Quiet time (personal)
- Bible Study (personal)
- Physical Exercise (personal)
- Writing (professional)
- Client Outreach & Acquisition (professional)
- Learning & Eduction (personal and professional)
These appear each day on my calendar. Depending on the day, they may be scheduled for different amounts of time, but they appear every day because they are priorities to me.
Yours may be different — and that is ok! This schedule has to be personalized to you.
3. Set Healthy Boundaries
For me, my mind is flowing with creative juices on Monday and Tuesday mornings. Since I know this about myself, I have blocked off most of the day to focus on writing blog posts (like this one) or guest blog posts. I intentionally turn off distractions like email or social media notifications so I can focus exclusively on writing.
On weekends, I rarely check my work email so I can let my brain “rest” and not introduce new challenges. This helps me recharge to tackle the upcoming week.
Several years ago, I decided to use two different email clients on my mobile device to separate work email from personal email. I use the Gmail app (iOS & Android) for personal and Mailbox by Dropbox (iOS & Android) for my professional email.
This gives me a clear distinction between work and play while I am on vacation or just enjoying personal time.
This is one step towards healthy boundaries.
4. Understand Your Weaknesses
Just like identifying your priorities, it is incredibly important to understand your personal weaknesses.
For me, I do not enjoy the time tracking or invoicing tasks of running my business. So I have delegated this and outsourced it to an assistant.
On the personal side, I don’t enjoy laundry or housecleaning — but my housekeeper does. In fact, she has a business that does this quite well!
If you struggle — or simply do not enjoy — accounting services, outsource it to an accountant. If you are challenged with marketing your business, hire a marketing consultant or CMO. If you don’t want to spend your time picking up dry cleaning or mail at the post office, hire a personal assistant.
The cost of outsourcing these services is likely much lower than you may think. Consider your own value and time. If you have a conservative billable rate of $50 per hour, and can outsource these tasks for $15-$20 per hour, you not only save money, but use your time on more valuable things.
5. Capitalize On Your Strengths
The counter of understanding your weaknesses is capitalizing on your strengths.
What are you exceptionally good at?
It is okay to brag a little bit here. Some of us are great at organizing, communicating, or funding home loans.
Hopefully, these personal strengths align with your professional endeavors.
When we are able to do what we are designed to do, it is very easy to find the pleasant balance between personal and work life. The reason is simple: we do not exhaust when pursuing our passion.
Conclusion & Next Steps
By setting healthy boundaries, identifying your straightens and weaknesses, and focusing on your priorities, you’ll find just the right blend of time management for your entrepreneurial journey.
Balance is something you create, not something you find. Use these tools and tactics to create a healthy separation between your work and personal life!