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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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                                    Last Updated on May 21, 2019

                                    How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                                    How to Be More Creative and Come up with Incredible Ideas

                                    Regardless of how creative you already consider yourself to be, there’s a good chance you would like to level up your creative abilities.

                                    You might want to write a better song, think of better solutions to problems at work or around the home or maybe paint a picture.

                                    In any case, the good news is that creativity is not born: it’s made, and each one of us has the potential to be more creative and come up with incredible ideas.

                                    “Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one.” — Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

                                    The definition of creativity is broad, and reminds us that creativity is not limited to artists or musicians. It does however require that we have some kind of impact on the domain in which we create.

                                    Creativity also emphasizes values.

                                    “The process of having original ideas that have value” — Ken Robinson

                                    This makes up for what Csikszentmihalyi misses out. For instance, we can make a change in the world without adding significant value. Any destructive act, like smashing a window, creates change, but it doesn’t necessarily create valuable change.

                                    In short, there isn’t one single definition of creativity It’s up to us to find a definition that feels true and useful. When you know what your standard is, It’s much easier to embrace creativity and start to cultivate it.

                                    And in this article, you will learn how to be more creative and take a good look at what goes into the creative skill:

                                    1. Cultivate Focus

                                    In order to create, there needs to be a focus on creating something, whether it’s a song, a theory, a product, or a sculpture.

                                    You could also call this “drive” – it’s the initial spark that drives the solution to a problem, or the will to get on your laptop and start typing.

                                    However, it’s worth noting there are different stages to the creative process: the divergent stage and the convergent stage.

                                    In the divergent stage, we want a broad focus – we want to be willing to let in lots of different inputs, ideas and insights. This is the time for brainstorming all possible ideas and solutions.

                                    In the convergent stage, we start to narrow our focus, like a camera lens. At this stage, we start to drill down to a handful of ideas or solutions, discriminating throughout the process.

                                    How to cultivate focus?

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                                    Take a 20 Minute Walk

                                    Walking away and getting your heart rate up is the best free tool you have in regaining your focus.

                                    I know it might seem counterintuitive to take a break right when you’re at your busiest, and especially when you’re drowning in your massive to do list, but the effects it will have on your clarity and ability to focus are undeniable.

                                    Walking is physiologically proven to release stress, and clear your mind. In fact, most of my most brilliant ideas (and some pretty terrible ones too) have occurred on my daily walks.

                                    If you give this technique a try, what you’ll find is that you’re much more productive than you were before you took a breather.

                                    Over time, if you do these walks daily, you’ll quickly find that your to-do list starts to feel a lot less significant, and a lot more doable. It’s all about keeping razor focused, and that’s what short daily walks will gift you.

                                    2. Build a Structure

                                    When I wake up in the morning, I start the day with a structure in mind. I know that 15 minutes will be dedicated to meditation, 30 minutes to coffee and reading, 20 minutes to yoga and so on.

                                    The structure of this morning routine might be boring, but the act of each task in itself has the potential to be, on some level, “creative.”

                                    The point of structure is that it gives you the space to make time for something you want to do. It helps you carve out the time to do your creative work. Once you begin that thing in itself, you are free to go about it however you’d like.

                                    Without structure, we can lose focus and can feel overwhelmed with possibility. If you’ve ever looked at a blank page and felt too overwhelmed with possibility to make a mark on it, you’ll know what I mean. How much easier it gets when you are given some guidelines or a deadline?

                                    The trick is finding the right amount of structure for you and your creative needs. Too little structure and we feel overwhelmed. Too much structure, and we risk feeling limited and stifled.

                                    Again, it’s worth thinking about creating in those two stages: divergent (less structure) and convergent (more structure.)

                                    How to build a structure?

                                    Create a Morning Routine

                                    Your morning routine doesn’t have to be rigid or so arduous you dread waking up. In fact, it should feel like the opposite. When you get a routine that works for you, you’ll look forward to starting the day.

                                    We all have different needs and preferences which can shape our ideal routine. In the book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey, you can be inspired over 160 different creators’ daily routines, from Charles Darwin to Pablo Picasso.

                                    Experiment with any that take your fancy, and see how you feel with a bit more structure to start your day.

                                    You can also take a look at this article about morning routine for inspirations: The Ultimate Morning Routine to Make You Happy And Productive All Day

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                                    3. Find Motivation

                                    There is a theory that suggests: people will be most creative when they feel motivated primarily by the interest, satisfaction, and challenge of the work itself — not by external pressures. This is also known as intrinsic motivation; a drive that comes from within.

                                    Think of a time when you did some of your best work — chances are you were totally absorbed in what you were doing, to the exclusion of everything else. You were completely focused on the work itself, barely noticing time flying by.

                                    Now think of a time when you felt under pressure to perform. Maybe it was an exam, or a commission for an important client, or maybe your boss had told you “there’s a lot riding on this.”

                                    Notice the difference? In the first memory, you were driven by intrinsic motivation, which made it relatively easy, even enjoyable, to be highly creative.

                                    In the second memory however, extrinsic motivation was breathing down your neck, distracting you by whispering about the rewards for success and the horrible consequences of failure: likely making it harder to focus on the task at hand.

                                    For this reason, intrinsic motivation, if you can find it, is what separates the good from great creative work.

                                    This isn’t to say only internal motivators help. I personally get motivated by luring myself to work with a good cappuccino at my favourite cafe. That will get me ready to write or edit or whatever I’ve been avoiding.

                                    How to find motivation?

                                    Connect to Your “Why”

                                    Your “Why” is your fuel: the thing that drives you forward, that gives you a reason to do what you’re doing.

                                    ‘He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.’ — Friedrich Nietzche

                                    When you have a reason to do something, a purpose or a goal that matters to you, you can connect your daily actions to it. Then, each act becomes infused with meaning and you find that intrinsic motivation comes naturally.

                                    The trick is to remember your “why” and connect with it on a regular basis.

                                    Think about how you want to feel on a daily basis. What would you like to accomplish in the next year? What would you like for yourself in the next five years? How about in your lifetime?

                                    Ultimately, the tasks you face on a daily basis, or at least some of them, will connect to a greater purpose if you follow this path and you will find you feel more motivated to create and less resistance.

                                    If you aren’t sure where to start looking for motivation, this will help: How to Get Motivated and Be Happy Every Day When You Wake Up

                                    4. Be an Expert in a Chosen Domain

                                    Research has shown that just as expertise in one domain does not predict expertise in other unrelated domains; creativity in one domain does not predict creativity in other unrelated domains.[1]

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                                    So just because you can paint a pretty picture, doesn’t mean you can creatively solve a mathematical problem.

                                    If you’ve taken one of those tests like the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, which will ask you to think of a bazillion uses for a pencil, and scored well, unfortunately this is only an indicator of divergent thinking skills. It is not a predictor for creativity all round.

                                    The good news is, you can train your creativity in your chosen domain. Much like a muscle, you can isolate exercises to strengthen it.

                                    Of course you can still do a total body workout – or atotal creativity workout – but it means your creativity-training exercises need to come from a wide variety of domains; not just thinking up uses for a pencil.

                                    How to become an expert?

                                    Make a Mastery Training Plan

                                    Following our physical workout analogy, it’s worth applying the habits of great athletes to your chosen creative domain. For example:

                                    1. Decide what area/s you want to work on

                                    Much like a tennis player who decides they need to improve their serving technique, you can decide what area within your creative domain you want to improve at. Get specific.

                                    2. Decide how much time you can dedicate

                                    Most of us don’t have all day to train like a pro tennis player might, but you can likely squeeze 20 to 30 minutes in a day, if you want to. Whatever the time you can allow is, decide to dedicate yourself to it.

                                    3. Review your progress

                                    Finally, in order to check your progress, you can take regular reviews. Decide what your metrics are, and take time each week to check in with yourself.

                                    How many days did you practice? How did you compare to the previous week? This kind of review can help you stay on track, and actually creates more intrinsic motivation as you see yourself develop.

                                    5. Create a Conducive Environment

                                    A psychologist in 1943 proposed that behaviour is:[2]

                                    “a function of both the person as well as the physical environment they are in.”

                                    I would suggest that the act of creating is a behaviour and that, even though it begins as an internal process, it’s very much affected by and even dependent on the environment we are in.

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                                    I started noticing how environment affects me when I worked in an office. Over time, I realized that the more people who were in or who were talking, the more distracted I was. If I got to the office early before my coworkers arrived, I was twice as effective.

                                    I was even more effective if I was at home. Now that I work from home, I know I’m even more effective when in certain coffee shops. Ideally, places that have high ceilings, gentle lighting, some barely noticeable background music – and excellent coffee.

                                    It’s these little variations in our environment that can really shape our creative output.

                                    If you’re an introvert, you probably do your best work alone. If you’re an extrovert, you probably do your best work in the company of others.

                                    This isn’t to say you should find one way of doing things and stick to it: in fact, varying your environment from time to time is a great way to stoke the creative fire too, which we’ll touch on more later.

                                    How to create a conducive environment?

                                    Add or Subtract Stimuli

                                    Novelty in our environment has been shown to stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases our desire to seek out reward.[3]

                                    If you’re looking for creative motivation, adding some novelty into your environment can be just what you need.

                                    On the other hand, some people are highly sensitive and when it comes to having too much stimulation in their environment, they find it difficult to focus.

                                    Experiment with working in different environments. Note how you feel. Note whether you do better creative work or have more interesting ideas when you’re alone or with others.

                                    Try listening to music, people chatting or try being in complete silence. Try a dimly lit room, try working in bright sunlight.

                                    In each case, note how you feel before, during and afterwards and rate the quality of your work.

                                    The Bottom Line

                                    Creativity is not one particular skill or talent one can have. It comes in as many broad and unique flavors as there are people on this earth.

                                    To be more creative, take little steps each day. Acknowledge where and when you feel most inspired, motivated and original and spend more energy in those areas.

                                    More Articles About Creativity

                                    Featured photo credit: Sticker Mule via unsplash.com

                                    Reference

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