How to achieve a healthy work-life balance

Workplace and wellbeing

1 May 2019

Being a business owner is inherently hectic. And like it or lump it, you’re going to be spending a lot of time making sure you get the most out of the hard work you put in.

But all work and no play is no fun for anyone. And burning yourself out can make achieving that perfect work-home life balance seem like an impossible task.

So how do you ensure you don’t knock your work-home life scales off-kilter when your responsibilities are pulling you in so many different directions at once?

Here, we chat to Ian Hepburn, owner of Dynamic Double Glazing, about how he maintains a healthy work-life balance and the habits to take up and avoid so that there’s plenty of room for work, rest and play each business day.

Why is it so important for you that you strike a healthy work-life balance?

As a business owner, you have the luxury of being able to fit your work commitments around your home life. However, it took me a while after founding my business to put this approach into action.

I used to prioritise my work life over everything else, until one day I realised that I’d got the balance all wrong. Constantly placing my business over my home life wasn’t working and I came to realise that my business didn’t have to operate purely within the confines of a 9-5 working day – customers appreciated that I could provide them with flexible working hours and appointments to work around their lives too.

Ever since this eureka moment, I’ve been much more effective in scheduling client appointments that not only suit customer demand but my own work-life balance too. I think it’s so important to work alongside customers to help schedule appointment times that suit them and you, so that it’s easier to schedule in some downtime.  

Running a business is hectic, I get that. But it’s so important that your personal life isn’t put on the backburner so that your work commitments can take centre stage. That’s why I always schedule my customer appointments in a way that leaves me plenty of downtime to spend with my wee boy, family and friends.

What’s the best way to establish clear boundaries between your home life and work life?

It’s important that you don’t let your work life encroach on your home life. Always try to keep your home and business life separate by turning off your phone at the end of a working day.

Only working in designated office spaces – whether this is a home-based office or a separate premise. Don’t be tempted to do work from your sofa as this will blur the boundaries between your home and business life and could prevent you from switching off when you need it.

When I’m at work, I’m all business. There’s no chitchat, no fun and games and definitely no meeting up with friends and family in between jobs. For me, the key is working hard when you’re at work, and playing hard when you’re at home. But that’s not to say that I’ve not had my own experience of my work and home life being too closely linked. It’s a delicate balancing act.

I really enjoy spending time with my friends, family and wee boy during my down time, but I think it’s important that you set aside some ‘me time’ for yourself too – because sometimes even family time can be hectic! 

Sharing makes us stronger

Whether you work from home or run your own business, it can be all too easy to feel stressed or overwhelmed. But talking about these issues is the first step towards solving them. Hear others share their mental health stories, learn how to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

Why is setting business hours important to maintaining a healthy work-life balance?

If you phone the doctor’s surgery at 5.30pm, you know you’re not getting an answer till 8am the next day, so why do business owners have their phone on from 7am till 10pm each day? Working this way leaves you no time to relax.

I think it’s a good idea to give yourself set working hours, so that you’ve got a good amount of time do your own thing. For me, setting clear time boundaries between work and home life is vital to a healthy work-home life balance.

One thing I always try to keep in mind is that we all have the same number of hours in a day. Richard Branson has the same number of hours in a day as me and look at what he’s built. It’s about maximising the worth and productivity of your time that matters the most.

By putting the graft in during your daily grind, you’ll be able to relax more in your downtime knowing that you’ve worked to the best of your ability.

What tips can you give on managing your workload effectively?

It might sound like common sense but I think writing out the tasks for the week ahead and keeping a note in your diary about upcoming appointments really helps. I’ve always got my appointments listed in my diary and stuck on my whiteboard to help me manage my workload – that way I never wake up wondering what’s set out for the day ahead.

You can’t switch off if you try to overload your brain with information. If you want to switch off, then the best advice I can give is: write everything down. Doing so can help you stay on track and prevent you from being overwhelmed by your workload.

Remember, people are busy, so it’s not just about providing a service within a 9-5 window – it’s in your interest to provide a service that can work around your customers’ lives and your own. Bearing in mind, I only make money when people aren’t working at their office jobs, so I’m all about trying to be as flexible as I can.

Make sure to give yourself enough time between customer appointments too. That way you can take a quick break and get refreshed before the next job. You don’t have to run about and burn yourself out – if you’re running earlier or later than anticipated, communicate clearly with your customers so that there’s some give and take.

If you work hard, then you won’t need to worry about working when times are quiet. That’s when you relax so that when it gets busy, you’re prepared because you’re rested and refreshed. Remember: don’t substitute quietness for a lack of success. If you’ve put the hard graft in, you should take the quieter times to recharge for when the pace picks up again.

How can you look after your mental and physical health to promote a balanced work-home life?

When I’m starting to feel like work is taking over my life, I’ll feel more tired, impatient and will generally be a bit ratty. And if you’re feeling the effects of burnout, your physical health can deteriorate, which can make keeping on top of your home and work responsibilities even more difficult.

It’s important to take time to look for the signs that that your body and mind are getting tired. That way you can take the steps to help rebalance your work and home life. Even something as simple as getting a good night’s sleep can help you keep on top of things better. Learn to recognise when you’re feeling burnt out and take the necessary steps to address it.  

In terms of looking after your mental health, we forge the weapons that destroy us. It can be hard not to be negative when you’re stressed but I think it’s a good idea to try your hardest to keep a positive attitude and reap the rewards.

I always try to maintain a positive outlook and be as thankful as I can for everything from my health and family to my home and my business. I think being appreciative for everything you have achieved and maintaining a positive mindset can really help you achieve your goals. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% positive all the time – nobody is – but it’s a good attitude to have to reflect on how much you’ve achieved.

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