Is Work/Life Balance a Myth for Small Business Owners?
Every small business owner knows the feeling: 1001 things to do, and only 24 hours a day to do them. Missing family activities because of work obligations. Lack of sleep and exercise. Letting friendships drift away. Eating too much junk food at your desk. For entrepreneurs, there is no HR department reminding you to take your vacation days and no peers heading home at 5pm. The fact is, for most small business owners life is overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be that way. There are things you can do to be more productive at home and at work.
10 Productivity Tips for Small Business Owners
1. Set Boundaries
You control your work schedule, your clients do not. If your clients are calling and emailing you at all hours and 7 days a week, think about how this happened. If you gave them your personal contact information, of course they're going to use it.
- Have separate work and personal emails and phone numbers.
- Don't engage with clients on your personal social media accounts.
- Establish your office hours: and stick to them.
- If you offer 24/7 availability, don't be resentful if your clients try to contact you at midnight on Wednesday night.
- When you answer client emails at 6:30am, you are telling them that you are open for business at 6:30 in the morning.
2. Schedule TIME OFF
Do not answer your emails or work phone after hours or on weekends, give your mind time to relax and renew. For some businesses, weekends are your prime time. In that case, establish your day off on a weekday. Many small businesses are closed on Monday, because Saturday and Sunday are their busiest days.
3. Be ORGANIZED
Get and organized and have systems in place to make your work-life easier and more productive. If your office and computer are not organized today, set time aside NOW and get organized, then make a commitment to yourself to stay organized.
4. Let Go of BAD CLIENTS
When starting your business, every penny counts. And to pay the bills, you may take clients whom you know are not a good fit:
- They have high needs and low budgets
- Their needs do not meet your skill set
- Their project does not interest or excite you
Its not necessarily the client who's bad, it's the fit that's bad. It's OK to "fire" a client, not every business relationship can succeed. Putting more time into a failing project will not necessarily turn it around; instead, it may result in your spending less time on your clients who you can help and risk losing them. Recognize the signs of a bad client fit, and Let Go!
5. Let Technology Help
There are many free technology tools that can help small business owners manage their schedule and help keep them on track throughout the day:
- Checkli: online checklist maker so nothing is ever forgotten
- Phone Calendars: use their timer and reminder features to keep you on schedule throughout the day. I like Google Calendar, but there are many other choices.
- StayFocusd: a Google Chrome extension that blocks certain sites from your website so you're not distracted
- Evernote: An online note and task organizer that works on all your devices
6. Outsource at WORK
Assign projects to your team, and let them do their jobs. If you're a solopreneur, consider hiring a virtual assistant or freelancers to do jobs you don't like or aren't good at, such as social media marketing or writing your newsletter. A few freelance websites we like are:
- Fivver: find people to do tasks ranging from graphic design to videos to setting up spreadsheets
- Upwork: hire professionals for every aspect of your business from creating websites to writing blogs to handling your accounting
- Freelance Writing Gigs: hire writers for your website, your social media profiles, your email marketing and any other content your business needs
7. Hire help at HOME
Maybe your office is running smoothly, or there are too many jobs you simply can't outsource while you build your business. Consider hiring help at home so that when you are at home, you're able to relax and enjoy family time. A home assistant or a team of household helpers can:
- Hire someone to cook and grocery shop, following your meal planning preferences.
- Find a cleaning service that does more than clean, such as laundry, water the plants and do small repairs.
- There are services who do one-off jobs:
- Christmas cards
- gift shopping
- party planning
- minor home repairs
- meeting the repairman (yes, that's someone's job!)
We know one small business owner who finally hired a full-time nanny who does grocery shopping, cleans and makes dinner while the kids are at pre-school or napping. Yes, she has some guilt: but its become a guilty pleasure and when she's reading bedtime stories to the kids she's not thinking about the pile of laundry that's waiting for her.
8. Figure Out Smart WORKAROUNDS
I love to read, but between running my agency, enjoying time with my husband and trying to stay healthy and exercise, I just don't have time for pleasure reading. Instead, I now download books to my iPhone, so when I'm out for a walk with JP (my pup, he doesn't talk) in addition to exercising and enjoying the beautiful weather I'm listening to the latest chapter of my novel.
Some of my productivity workarounds include:
- Audio books
- Social media scheduling tools
- Siri: I dictate most of my texts and emails instead of writing them
I spent time researching the best tools so that I can automate work things that I need to do regularly, but I don't always have time to do:
- IFTTT: automate your apps and devices
- Onlypult: Instagram scheduling tool
- HootSuite: social media scheduling tool
10. Work at COFFEE SHOPS
I have an office, and a home office. But sometimes I just need to focus on a project away from distractions, so I schedule a 2-3 hour time slot when I go to a coffee shop, put my phone on mute, and just get sh*t done.
Google productivity tips or productivity hacks: You'll find hundreds of articles with thousands of tips for small business owners and entrepreneurs to be more productive. The real secret: pick a few you think are best for your business, and then use them!
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