Woman doing yoga with her daughter.
From taking steps to avoid distractions to condensing your schedule, there are many effective ways that small business owners can restructure their work-life balance. — Getty Images/Silvia Bianchini

Small business owners work incredibly hard to build their companies and keep them running every day. In fact, a New York Enterprise Report poll found that small business owners work twice as much as everyday employees and that 25% of owners work more than 60 hours a week to make sure their companies stay afloat.

With that being the case, many small business owners have a challenging time balancing work with their home and personal lives. But with a few changes to how they approach work, there are ways to help remedy this issue.

Here are five things small business owners can do to find more work-life balance.

Take a step back

The first thing business owners who are unhappy with work-life balance should do is to take a step back and reflect on the big picture of what is being lost in the imbalance. This type of reflection often happens when a major life event occurs, such as the birth of a child or death in the family, but it can and should happen more frequently.

“Ask yourself: What is currently causing me stress, unbalance, or dissatisfaction?” write Ioana Lupu and Mayra Ruiz-Castro in the Harvard Business Review. “How are these circumstances affecting how I perform and engage with my job? How are they impacting my personal life? What am I prioritizing? What am I sacrificing? What is getting lost? Only after you take a mental pause and acknowledge these factors can you begin to tackle them.”

Delegate non-mission-critical tasks

Small business owners often have a mentality that they need to have their hand in every task because otherwise the job won’t get done right. But Brian Sutter, director of marketing for Wasp Barcode Technologies, writes for SCORE that delegation can free up a lot of time. But many owners don’t embrace the power that comes from handing off tasks.

“It’s a choice to keep doing tasks that could be delegated to staff or outsourced,” Sutter writes. “And it’s a choice to do those tasks yourself, instead of planning your business growth or strategy. Those are the type of things you truly cannot outsource.”

One thing not enough business owners do is set hard start and stop times for work.

Consider a four-day workweek

One radical idea that has been proposed to help owners and employees with work-life balance issues is a four-day workweek. In this arrangement, workers are expected to retain the same level of productivity, receive the same compensation, and work only four days a week. The results of multiple experiments have been positive.

“The top-line figures tell the story: After our eight-week trial, work-life balance metrics rose by 44%, empowerment by 26%, leadership by 28%, work stimulation by 27% and organizational commitment by 29% — and this was with no advance preparation beyond asking staff to plan well and take it seriously,” Andrew Barnes, author of “The 4 Day Week: How the Flexible Work Revolution Can Increase Productivity, Profitability and Wellbeing, and Create a Sustainable Future,” told CO—.

This type of model could be helpful for business owners to experiment with as well. Increasing time off without sacrificing productivity can be a surefire way to allocate more time for personal responsibilities and leisure.

Set clearly defined work hours each day

One thing not enough business owners do is set hard start and stop times for work. But having clearly defined hours can help you push through tasks more quickly and keep more time set for home life.

“Set a hard stopping time each day and stick to it,” James Simpson, CEO and founder of GoldFire Studios, told Small Business Trends. “I fell into the trap of working 16-hour days for a long time and would start procrastinating since I could ‘just get it done tonight.’ I found that when I set a hard stop at 7 p.m., I actually started getting more done in less time, and my business flourished because of it.”

Use ‘Do Not Disturb’ to create separation between work and home

Another tool business owners and leaders should consider using is “Do Not Disturb” on their phones and computers, both at home and at work. Not being incessantly pinged with notifications can help create more separation between work and personal spheres.

"If we were to do all the tasks that were in front of us, we could probably work 24 hours a day," Mark Greville, VP of architecture at Workhuman, told CIO Dive. "So, there's a discipline that needs to be brought in about choosing to do things and then choosing to switch off at certain times as well."

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published May 17, 2021