It’s a common tenet of American culture that with a little hard work and determination, you can make your greatest dreams come true. While being a hard worker is an admirable trait, it can quickly turn into a negative one if your everyday life is consumed by work.
This fact has been amplified by the remote work era, when the line between work and personal time has become completely blurred for professionals who work from home. For any professional, however, it’s best to strive for a healthier, more balanced life instead of working around the clock. Below, eight members of Young Entrepreneur Council share their tips for how best to achieve this balance and break free from this negative stereotype.
1. Set Fixed Work Hours And Boundaries
Setting boundaries is extremely important in a work environment. Having fixed work hours for employees and only carrying over when necessary helps establish those boundaries. Since some clients are based internationally, and we also work with broadcast opportunities, client needs can sometimes fall outside of our normal online hours. But, that is surely an exception and not the norm. We set boundaries with our clients upfront, letting them know when they can expect us to be online and available. Setting those clear expectations helps us sign off without stress at the end of each workday and ensures our clients feel supported and taken care of as well. – Kelley Weaver, Melrose PR
2. Measure Achievements, Not Hours
I decided years ago to stop working around the clock. It all started because I work with people who are in different parts of the world and our time zones rarely coincide. With great success, I have implemented a work system that is guided by achievements and not by hours. Using simple tools, like Trello, each individual and team must accomplish tasks in a certain amount of time. The work calendar is public and free to edit, so everyone can give their opinion and observe the evolution of each task. The work is delegated and supervised weekly or monthly, and only exceptionally are there tasks that must be fulfilled and supervised in a few days. This is to avoid overworking. Thanks to this strategy, there is no physical or mental overexertion, balancing quality and health. – Kevin Ryan Tao, NeuEve
3. Prioritize Mental And Physical Health
We need to recognize that working harder doesn’t mean you’re going to be productive; it means that you burn out eventually, and the setback this creates is greater than the perceived loss of productivity when we take breaks. Business owners and leaders can create change by making it easy for employees to take time off. In our business, we have employees who work at times when they feel best. They’re only asked to attend common meetings, and they have unlimited PTO. Because of this, people are more productive and stay with the company, reducing turnover by a drastic amount. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner
4. Practice Mindfulness
If you want to achieve a work-life balance, you need to practice mindfulness. Especially in the remote working culture, it’s difficult to work at a stretch with your family around and in the absence of the proper work setup. As a result, your task doesn’t get done and you can easily get off track. This in turn can disrupt your work-life balance because then you have to work even after your work hours to complete your tasks. By practicing mindfulness, you can easily avoid such situations. It helps you focus on your tasks without distraction and complete all your work in the given timeline. So now you can have some good “me time” after work hours that you can spend with your family and loved ones. – Josh Kohlbach, Wholesale Suite
5. Plan Out Your Week In Detail
It’s hard to break the pressure you feel as a young business owner (especially a female one) to work 24/7. I quickly learned that setting an eight-hour workday for myself and planning out my week was essential. I sit down on a Monday morning and first plot out important meetings and calls. I’ll then think about the important tasks for my week and plan the mornings when I’ll do them (I tackle big tasks in the mornings to hopefully make the rest of the day go smoothly). Then I’ll dedicate time to other tasks and spending time with the team to see how they’re doing, leaving “free time” for things that crop up. It’s also important to fit in exercise, spending time with friends and family and healthy eating. If I’m not in good health and in a good mindset, I won’t do my best work. – Emily Stallings, Casely, Inc.
6. Prioritize Hobbies And Self-Care
I prioritize travel, meditation and yoga, and maintain a healthy work-life balance in my company. When I lived in New York City and was lecturing at NYU and working at an agency, I really burned out—and I was one of the thousands working that way. As I first prioritized going out on my own and traveling, the lessons I learned led me to meditation and yoga, and finally to India, most recently. When I slowed down and focused inward, I started achieving my goals without as much struggle, and at a much faster pace! The way for Americans to combat this stereotype is for entrepreneurs to set the example of self-care, exploring, setting goals and listening to your inner voice and knowing when you are burning out—and then normalizing the same practices for their employees. – Matthew Capala, Alphametic
7. Develop And Stick To A Schedule
The key to breaking the stereotype is to develop a reasonable, strict schedule—and to stick to it! I like to use time blocking to manage my projects for the day. Essentially, this strategy requires you to work on one thing at a time for a predetermined time. For instance, you might spend two hours writing a blog post and one hour responding to social media comments before lunch. Working within these time blocks makes it easier to stay productive and manage your time, which leads to a more balanced life. – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights
8. Create Time Blocks For Unplugging
For most people in 2021, work does not stop when they clock out or the shift is over. A smartphone can contribute significantly to feeling overworked. My smartphone was a constant stream of work-related questions and emails, and countless Friday nights or vacations have been ruined when I’ve learned of an emergency at work and had to stop what I am doing to attend to that. Setting structured “check-in times” and focusing on eliminating the root causes of emergencies so that these are prevented is the best solution for this. Also, designating certain blocks of time such as Saturday and Sunday as “no email” days is also beneficial to this end. – Salvador Ordorica, The Spanish Group LLC