Tip the Scales toward a Healthier Work-Life Balance
By Mark Wardell @MarkWardell | April 30, 2010
"Making the most of life" is not a goal that needs much selling. Most of us would readily admit to not living completely fulfilled lives, especially those of us suffering from constant work preoccupation. Customers, cash flow, marketing, staff ... let's face it, the demands on an entrepreneur do not always foster a healthy work-life balance.
In fact, business owners tend to spend most of the day in reactionary mode dealing with day-to-day work challenges that crop up, rather than being proactive about the work they want to do. This is stressful and frustrating because it takes away people's sense of purpose and causes them to lose sight of the pursuits that energized them in the beginning.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you're looking for a little more balance in your life, know this: Finding balance does not necessarily mean working less. Balance is about choice. Doing what fulfills you. That means the freedom to do the work you want to do, rather than the work you have to do.
Here are some tips to help you strike a better balance:
Systemize your business. The single most effective way to balance your work world is to develop a strategically documented "Business Manual." This manual should house all of the policies and procedures required to operate your business--from how you manage customer information and inventory to marketing goals. By systemizing your business, you'll finally be able to rest assured that everyone knows how things are supposed to run (and will soon be able to answer the questions they ask you every day).
Delegate everything you can. Delegation needs to become part of your ongoing behaviour. New work will show up on your desk on a regular basis. If you don't need to deal with it, don't. If it is important that it gets done and someone else can do it, then nine times out of 10 you should pass it along. If you're not used to delegating, now is the time to begin. Keep the true value of your time firmly in mind and you will more easily be able to decide if you should or should not be handling the next item in your inbox.
Ensure you have a trusted team. Of course, the more you delegate, the more you'll need to have competent people following through on your behalf. If you don't have a trusted team in place, set out to build one. And always remember that it's your job to clearly communicate what everyone's roles and responsibilities are and to define your expectations.
Create a culture of continuous improvement. Finally, in order to sustain your new well-balanced life, you need to be able to trust that your firm is running like a well-oiled machine, whether you're taking off on vacation or escaping to the gym mid-day. You can do this by building a culture of continuous improvement that fosters motivation and growth within your team. Engage your people in the success of your enterprise by sharing your vision and giving everyone a chance to really contribute. And when they do, remember to recognize them.
It may take effort upfront but, if you put these fundamentals in place, you will steadily remove the burden of business management from your shoulders and achieve the work-life balance