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Ask The Entrepreneurs: 16 Ways to Master Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur

Ask The Entrepreneurs: 16 Ways to Master Your Work-Life Balance as an Entrepreneur


    Ask The Entrepreneurs

    is a regular series where members of those involved in the Young Entrepreneur Council are asked a single question that aims to help Lifehack readers level up their own lives, whether in a area of management, communication, business or life in general.

    Here’s the question posed in this edition of Ask The Entrepreneurs:

    How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance as an entrepreneur?

    1. Let Go of Fear

      “Many entrepreneurs struggle with fear that if they’re not working every minute that they could possibly be working, their business will fail and they will regret not having put in more time. However, in my own experience and in observing other successful entrepreneurs, letting go of this fear not only leads to work-life balance but also more meaningful productivity and accomplishment.”

      Elizabeth SaundersReal Life E®

      2. Build Lifestyle into Your Brand

        “These days so many people are focused on getting funding, explosive growth and spending 80 hours a week on their business. While that’s all great stuff, it can lead to burn out and unhappiness really quickly. Make lifestyle the most important factor in business from the beginning, and then grow with that principle in mind—less stress, more happiness.”

        Sean OgleLocation 180, LLC

        3. Schedule Your Life, Not Just Work

          “Reserve set times in your schedule for activities that allow you to recharge and that add value to your life, such as daily exercise, a weekly date or social night, reserved time for family activities, and a yearly vacation. You not only will have something to look forward to, but also extra motivation to manage your other time well so you do not have to cancel on others—and yourself!”

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          Doug BendBend Law Group, PC

          4. Set Some Boundaries

            “Calm down. It’s 11 p.m. You’re not going to lose that client if you wait until tomorrow to respond to his request for a project estimate. Set work hours for yourself and stick to them. If you make yourself available at all hours—while out to dinner, while on vacation, during “sexy time”—you set a dangerous precedent!”

            Steph AuteriWord Nerd Pro

            5. Turn It Off!

              “Our smartphones are a part of our everyday lives, but as an entrepreneur, we literally sleep with it tucked under our pillow. Simply turn off the phone and be amazed at how much you can get done—you can even fit in a work out. You have to know when to separate work and life, which starts with shutting off from everything to take time for yourself. That’s why there’s a thing called voicemail!”

              Ashley BodiBusiness Beware

              6. Learn Something New

                “I started taking beginner piano lessons at age 26 so I could schedule time away from my computer. Now I know that my Tuesday and Thursday evenings are piano nights. I’m paying money to be there, so you better believe I’ll be shutting off my work to get there.”

                Allie Siarto, Loudpixel

                7. Work It All Out

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                  “Being an entrepreneur often uses up all of your time but it’s important to remember to stay healthy and work out. Try and add a calendar invite reminding you to go to the gym, run or do whatever fits you. If not, you’ll most likely regret it when you start seeing negative results.”

                  Ben LangEpicLaunch

                  8. Figure Your Fuel

                    “Too often, the work-life balance discussion revolves around sleeping and exercising schedules; but for nonstop entrepreneurs, the conversation needs to begin with what we’re using for fuel. It’s important to stock up on healthy snacks that will reduce your cravings (for less healthy foods) and keep you going 24/7. Stash them in your desk, computer bag, and car for emergency use.”

                    Benjamin LeisSweat EquiTees

                    9. Remember Your Friends?

                      “Many entrepreneurs I talk to often think about how much time off that their peers have because of their cushy corporate jobs. Entrepreneurs should try creating similar schedules as well so that they can have proper work-life balance. If corporations can make it happen, entrepreneurs can too!”

                      Danny WongBlank Label Group, Inc.

                      10. Delegate Your Life!

                        “It’s great to delegate bookkeeping, marketing, and admin work, but for many who are just starting off your budget won’t necessarily allow for it. Get creative and delegate more of your “life” duties like childcare, cleaning house, and grocery shopping to a spouse. Having my husband help me out by doing some grocery shopping means I have more time to spend with him when we’re at home.”

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                        Jennifer DonoghYoung Female Entrepreneurs

                        11. Try Time Boxing

                          “If you can offload common tasks, such as scheduling and other appointment setting, you’ll free up your time to focus on the most important tasks. Time boxing will allow you to apply laser focus to one project at a time.”

                          Jeff SlobotskiSilicon Prairie News

                          12. Put Yourself First

                            “If you’re an entrepreneur, your business relies heavily on your sleep and sanity. Make sure that you are putting yourself first by eating right, sleeping well and exercising (at a minimum). Remind yourself that those things are critical to thinking, creating and performing at your best, and make sure you stand firm to your commitments to all three.”

                            Jenny BlakeLife After College

                            13. Balance Is Not “Equal”

                              “Personally, I’m not happy if I’m evenly dividing my time between work and other things. I really enjoy what I do, to the point that I get bored with a lot of hobbies. I focus on making sure that I’m doing well on a personal level: if I’m feeling stressed out, I’ll take a step back; if I feel like I’m not getting enough work done, I’m cool with investing more time.”

                              Thursday Bram, Hyper Modern Consulting

                              14. You Deserve a Reward!

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                                “It’s easy to forget about the “life” part. Unfortunately, this ends up making you burn out, while never giving yourself “me” time and enjoying the fruits of your labor. Reward yourself, whether it’s by taking a vacation, treating yourself to a day at the spa, or turning off your devices and reading a book. It will make you a better worker in the long run.”

                                Steven Le Vine, grapevine pr

                                15. What’s Your Work-Life Story?

                                  “Whether I spend 80 hours a week working on business or I’m on vacation and give 100 percent of myself to my reflection and refueling, my experience of both are pretty much the same. I make it my priority to narrate the story of what I’m doing, how I’m feeling, and how I’m spending my time in a way that makes me feel good and balanced. The story I tell myself is what keeps me thriving.”

                                  Alexia Vernon, Catalyst for Action

                                  16. Schedule It Like You Would An Important Meeting

                                    “If you want time for yourself, you need to schedule it into your day. 4 days a week I make 2 hours for myself through Crossfit. There is nothing more important to me than my health. To ensure I never miss a class, it is scheduled into my calendar weeks in advance and my day is planned around it just like an important meeting with a client. If it’s scheduled, you will do it. If it’s not, you won’t.”

                                    Greg Rollett, The ProductPros

                                    (Photo credit: Work Life Balance Writing on Businessman’s Hands via Shutterstock)

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                                    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                                    The Productivity Paradox: What Is It And How Can We Move Beyond It?

                                    It’s a depressing adage we’ve all heard time and time again: An increase in technology does not necessarily translate to an increase in productivity.

                                    Put another way by Robert Solow, a Nobel laureate in economics,

                                    “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

                                    In other words, just because our computers are getting faster, that doesn’t mean that that we will have an equivalent leap in productivity. In fact, the opposite may be true!

                                    New York Times writer Matt Richel wrote in an article for the paper back in 2008 that stated, “Statistical and anecdotal evidence mounts that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused.”

                                    There’s a strange paradox when it comes to productivity. Rather than an exponential curve, our productivity will eventually reach a plateau, even with advances in technology.

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                                    So what does that mean for our personal levels of productivity? And what does this mean for our economy as a whole? Here’s what you should know about the productivity paradox, its causes, and what possible solutions we may have to combat it.

                                    What is the productivity paradox?

                                    There is a discrepancy between the investment in IT growth and the national level of productivity and productive output. The term “productivity paradox” became popularized after being used in the title of a 1993 paper by MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson, a Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and the Director of the MIT Center for Digital Business.

                                    In his paper, Brynjolfsson argued that while there doesn’t seem to be a direct, measurable correlation between improvements in IT and improvements in output, this might be more of a reflection on how productive output is measured and tracked.[1]

                                    He wrote in his conclusion:

                                    “Intangibles such as better responsiveness to customers and increased coordination with suppliers do not always increase the amount or even intrinsic quality of output, but they do help make sure it arrives at the right time, at the right place, with the right attributes for each customer.

                                    Just as managers look beyond “productivity” for some of the benefits of IT, so must researchers be prepared to look beyond conventional productivity measurement techniques.”

                                    How do we measure productivity anyway?

                                    And this brings up a good point. How exactly is productivity measured?

                                    In the case of the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, productivity gain is measured as the percentage change in gross domestic product per hour of labor.

                                    But other publications such as US Today, argue that this is not the best way to track productivity, and instead use something called Total Factor Productivity (TFP). According to US Today, TFP “examines revenue per employee after subtracting productivity improvements that result from increases in capital assets, under the assumption that an investment in modern plants, equipment and technology automatically improves productivity.”[2]

                                    In other words, this method weighs productivity changes by how much improvement there is since the last time productivity stats were gathered.

                                    But if we can’t even agree on the best way to track productivity, then how can we know for certain if we’ve entered the productivity paradox?

                                    Possible causes of the productivity paradox

                                    Brynjolfsson argued that there are four probable causes for the paradox:

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                                    • Mis-measurement – The gains are real but our current measures miss them.
                                    • Redistribution – There are private gains, but they come at the expense of other firms and individuals, leaving little net gain.
                                    • Time lags – The gains take a long time to show up.
                                    • Mismanagement – There are no gains because of the unusual difficulties in managing IT or information itself.

                                    There seems to be some evidence to support the mis-measurement theory as shown above. Another promising candidate is the time lag, which is supported by the work of Paul David, an economist at Oxford University.

                                    According to an article in The Economist, his research has shown that productivity growth did not accelerate until 40 years after the introduction of electric power in the early 1880s.[3] This was partly because it took until 1920 for at least half of American industrial machinery to be powered by electricity.”

                                    Therefore, he argues, we won’t see major leaps in productivity until both the US and major global powers have all reached at least a 50% penetration rate for computer use. The US only hit that mark a decade ago, and many other countries are far behind that level of growth.

                                    The paradox and the recession

                                    The productivity paradox has another effect on the recession economy. According to Neil Irwin,[4]

                                    “Sky-high productivity has meant that business output has barely declined, making it less necessary to hire back laid-off workers…businesses are producing only 3 percent fewer goods and services than they were at the end of 2007, yet Americans are working nearly 10 percent fewer hours because of a mix of layoffs and cutbacks in the workweek.”

                                    This means that more and more companies are trying to do less with more, and that means squeezing two or three people’s worth of work from a single employee in some cases.

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                                    According to Irwin, “workers, frightened for their job security, squeezed more productivity out of every hour [in 2010].”

                                    Looking forward

                                    A recent article on Slate puts it all into perspective with one succinct observation:

                                    “Perhaps the Internet is just not as revolutionary as we think it is. Sure, people might derive endless pleasure from it—its tendency to improve people’s quality of life is undeniable. And sure, it might have revolutionized how we find, buy, and sell goods and services. But that still does not necessarily mean it is as transformative of an economy as, say, railroads were.”

                                    Still, Brynjolfsson argues that mismeasurement of productivity can really skew the results of people studying the paradox, perhaps more than any other factor.

                                    “Because you and I stopped buying CDs, the music industry has shrunk, according to revenues and GDP. But we’re not listening to less music. There’s more music consumed than before.

                                    On paper, the way GDP is calculated, the music industry is disappearing, but in reality it’s not disappearing. It is disappearing in revenue. It is not disappearing in terms of what you should care about, which is music.”

                                    Perhaps the paradox isn’t a death sentence for our productivity after all. Only time (and perhaps improved measuring techniques) will tell.

                                    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

                                    Reference

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