Balancing work and play is a difficult task, especially for a small business owner. You need to run a business, keep your customers happy, manage employees, all while trying to find a little play time at the end of the day. It's easy to let work run your life, but here are a few tips to help you work and play each day.
- Office space vs. personal space
If you work from home, it's easy to let your work and living space can encroach on teach other. Set aside an area where you keep all business materials and work items separate from the rest of the household (this is also helpful when looking for tax deductions!). This space should be used just for work. Set up your area as if you were setting up a cubicle or office in an office building. This work space should be quiet and relatively free of home distractions - when and if possible. Having a space set aside just for work allows you to focus on the business, but also allows you to leave your work to enjoy some "time away from the office."
- Set aside play time each day
For many of business owners, you’re pondering what work needs to be done even when you should be relaxing! It’s important to set aside a few hours each day when work is not allowed. Turn off the computer, cell phone, let the incoming calls go to voicemail - while you focus on fun, family or relaxing. You can do what you want with this time: go for a walk, take a bike ride, go to the park or go to a movie. But remove yourself from the business owner that you are and have a little fun. The play time you set aside for yourself will actually help to reenergize you for when it’s time to return to work and make you feel more satisfied with your work/life balance.
Some small businesses are run out of the home. If you have kids home while working, make sure to set boundaries so neither your work, nor your children are neglected but yet so that the environment is conducive to getting your business goals accomplished. Make sure work space is free of toys and games so your kids are not tempted to play around business materials. And be sure to lay down ground rules if you have children ar home while you are working. Your work space is for work and you are not to be disturbed unless it is an emergency cituation. You may find that setting up activities, like computer games or arts and crafts, to keep your children occupied during your working time is the best way to approach the situation. While you work, you can be sure that the kids are close enough should they need you, or that you have a babysitter or nanny there to help out if possible.
- Vacation rules apply
When you own your own business, make sure to set ground rules on vacation time. It may be easy to forget to take a vacation (or on the other hand - you may be tempted to take too many vacations!). Come up with a plan to keep your vacation time in check. You might try a system in which you accumulate vacation for every x amount of time you work. For example, for every month worked, you get a certain number of days off. Or if your business is extra busy during certain times of the year, say between January and March, take a vacation in April when the busy season has slowed down and work is caught up. This will also enable to you to really take advantage of the benefits of the vacation.
- Lunch breaks
Whether working from home or at the office, taking a lunch break is an important part of your day. When projects are piling up and deadlines are approaching, it's easy to skip lunch or eat lunch while working. Try not to make skipping meals or eating at your work space a habit. Even on busy days, keep lunch short, but don't skip it. This time away will allow you to relax, recharge and give you a new perspective on your work when you get back (and not to mention, a delicious meal to keep you energized for the rest of the day!).