All too often as entrepreneurs, we let our drive and desire to succeed override our need for balance. We worry that if we aren’t answering emails and phone calls quick enough, will our potential customers go elsewhere. If we aren’t available nights and weekends, will we lose out on business?
Maybe. Maybe not. Often what we lose out on is the very life we are working towards. A life of less stress, more fulfillment and financial freedom.
So many people talk about work-life balance as some far off goal that they’ll get to “someday”. One day when my business makes me money. One day when the kids are older. One day when I retire. One day…
You can’t reach “one-day” goals until you are living and planning as if “one day” is today.
One of the biggest turning points in our business is when we stopped trying to cram everything in and intentionally created the balance we craved. By setting limits to how much we worked, we actually made our time more valuable (not less).
The first step I take with other pet business owners working towards creating work life balance is to take a step back from the business. Take an hour (or 30 minutes if that’s all you have to spare) and turn off all distractions. Sit in a quiet room and just be with your thoughts. Picture what your ideal work week looks like. Ask yourself these questions:
- How many clients can you work with in one day and still feel energized?
- How many days per week can you work and not feel overwhelmed?
- When do you do your best work? Morning, afternoon or evening?
- Do you need time for travel? Office work? Continued education?
- When do your clients need you to be available for them?
Write these answers down, don’t just keep them in your head. Say them aloud so you can hear it. Does it feel right and true to you?
Now, take a blank calendar or planner that has times on it and create blocks of time. Include everything you do on a daily basis that has to get down and start to map out your ideal week.
Do you meditate every morning at 7am? Put that down and keep that space sacred. Weekly class with your own dog? Make sure it is in marker or pen so you can’t erase it!
Create set appointment times for when you will check email, return phone calls and see clients. And stick to it.
You can see an example of a weekly schedule I created by clicking here to give you some ideas. When creating a schedule for yourself, it is important to make sure that you put aside time for mental and physical health each day – not just relying on whenever you are “off” work.
I also highly recommend putting things you don’t like to do on the calendar as appointments throughout the week. Don’t lump all the hard stuff on one day or you’ll find excuses for not getting it done. Rather, set aside an hour or two during your most productive time of the day 3 days a week to do the business stuff that needs to get done. Sticking to theme days each week (Marketing Mondays, Financial Fridays, Wrap-up Wednesdays) can help you stay on track for the task that you need to complete.
The most important part of creating your schedule is first and foremost setting aside the times where you will be working directly with clients. Most newer trainers schedule in clients here and there when they can fit things in but that can be hard to keep track of and isn’t sustainable long term. By knowing that you see clients at 4pm and 6pm Monday through Thursday and 9am and 11am on Tuesday and Thursday, it makes scheduling easier and more routine rather than having to schedule week by week depending on what’s on the calendar.
Predictability reduces stress (and mistakes).
When we intentionally create our schedules with balance in mind, we stop letting our business run us and turn toward running our business instead.
Decide TODAY that you are going to stop waiting for the right time for work-life balance and you are going to start being intentional about it by doing the things I’ve talked about. First, set aside your quiet time to really think about how your ideal week would look. Second, write that schedule out on paper (or a Google calendar) and stick it where you can see it. Third (and most importantly) STICK TO IT! Use what you’ve created to set and uphold your working boundaries.
After all, we are entrepreneurs for a reason – to create the life we want! Start creating it and believing that you deserve it right now.