Back when I worked in the corporate world, I thought there really was such a thing as work-life balance. I think I even accomplished that balance once or twice. I used to envy the women who always looked so calm and put together at any time of the day, and even when I caught them in their natural habitat outside of work, darn it if their hair wasn’t perfect at the grocery store too!
I used to envy those entrepreneurs who made their own schedules. How nice to finally be able to dictate that work-life balance. My daydreams came to an immediate halt when I opened a business with my husband. It didn’t take long for me to learn that it was all a myth, a ruse, put on by a bunch of Fakey McFakersons. Even though my dreams of perfect balance were shattered, I did learn some new strategies along the way, too.
Myth #1 – you determine your schedule
What I learned is that I determined everyone else’s schedule, then it was up to me to fill in all of the gaps in-between. It all looked good on paper until someone called in sick, or sick kids, or in jail. My husband and I were left to pick up the pieces because the show must go on. If I showed a moment of weakness – otherwise known as idle time – I was called to come and do something.
What I learned is to schedule my entire day, including my downtime, and never answer “nothing” when someone calls and asks what I’m doing. From shopping for the restaurant to walking the dogs, it was all on the schedule. It became the only way I could make sure I could get it all in. I also learned to pad my time allotted by 25%, to buffer anything that stretched beyond my schedule or take a moment to myself.
I also learned to use a schedule to my advantage for family time. My son was in high school and a star employee of mine. I would schedule the three of us to work together as a family on Sundays, so the rest of the team could take the day off. After we closed at 3 pm, we would have our family dinner. This day was one day that I could count on us all being together, enjoying each other’s company.
Myth #2 – you can’t put family first
Of course, you can put your family first! What you find yourself doing is a trade-off at times. A sick child takes precedence over everything else. Things wait, and compromises are made for these occurrences.
You may discover periods in your life with your family that your business is fine in its current state instead of continually pursuing growth. A company in a steady-state provides a feeling of predictable normalcy and a sense of control.
The best-case scenario is finding someone you can trust that can keep everything running in your absence. Seize those opportunities because those employees don’t last forever.
Myth #3 – you must blend your work/life when you own a business
This myth goes back to what I learned in Myth #1 to schedule everything. I managed to compartmentalize my work and life activities instead of blending them, with the exception of Sundays working with my husband and son (that was a fun day for us). What I learned is if I could switch back and forth effectively, that I could be more focused and in the moment.
For instance, I saw in a tweet one day: Work and personal life will always battle each other for supremacy because both require your full attention to be successful.
When you work in a corporate office, separating your home life from work is so much easier, because someone else has the ship’s helm. It is just as important as an entrepreneur, no matter what they tell you. Think of it this way: instead of a goal of absolute balance, try instead a goal of being centered at the moment at that time.
Myth #4 – you are always working
While balancing tasks can be a chore as an entrepreneur, many choose to go into business with something they have a deep passion for doing. There’s an adage, “do what you love, and you will never work a day in your life.” For many entrepreneurs, this is a complete truth.
They find joy in their work, so it never feels like work. Even in my own experience, my husband and I had a passion for our work and the joy we brought to others, and our son shared that pride of accomplishment. We often never realized our own whirlwind until we started scheduling ourselves to step outside of it once in a while. It wasn’t until we walked away that we marveled at the energy we had through it all.
Myth #5 – you no longer have the luxury of choice
You choose everything as an entrepreneur. The big difference is that you live by those choices, good or bad, just as you would an employee, but consequences are usually more personal. That can make choices harder to decide, but they remain yours ultimately. Choosing to focus more on your family may result in slower growth for your business, for instance. If you choose to get more help, it affects your profits. If you choose supply delivery, you pay more for your supplies. Everything is a trade-off as an entrepreneur, but having that choice puts you in a position of control, not the other way around.
Help your team with their work-life struggle with the gift of experiences
Getting the most from your employees involves another series of choices. The work-life balance myth is a struggle for everyone. One of your choices is helping with work-life balance and work-life satisfaction. Work2Live’s Lifestyle Spending Account (LSA) is a beautiful way to compartmentalize their time as (time for me), as a treat and a tribute to the work that they do.