When working for yourself and building and growing your own business is a passion – as it has been for me, all my life –balancing work and life isn’t always easy. It certainly hasn’t always been for me over the years – and I’ve learned some tough lessons about making sure that I get it right.
Of course, one of the best things about being an entrepreneur who has his own business is that you have the power to decide how far you want to take things – from the targets you set and the vision you have for the business through to the hours you work. But that’s also one of the pitfalls – there is no one else there to tell you to stop and take a break from time to time.
But if there’s one thing that I’ve learned over the years, it’s that getting that balance between work and life right is absolutely fundamental to the success of your business. There are a number of reasons why I think this is the case.
Vital recovery time
Firstly, making sure that you’re taking time to rest and recover from work keeps you mentally and physically sharp. It’s a chance for your body and mind simply to relax after the exertions of working life. Just like any good marathon training plan has plenty of rest days built in, you also need to make sure that you’re giving yourself a break in normal life too. And it’s hard to overestimate the importance of this – it’s difficult to spot when you’re burning out – especially if you love your job as much as I do.
Getting the bigger picture
Taking a break also gives you a chance to get some much-needed perspective – whether it’s on solutions to problems that have eluded you so far, or just as a chance to take a step back and see the big picture. People often say they have their best ideas in their downtime, when they’re driving the car or taking a shower- so why don’t we make sure we take more of it? When we’re in the midst of the daily turmoil of an ordinary working day, it can be hard to stop and think properly. It’s something I’ve experienced myself over the years, and it took a long time for me to truly realise the creative potential of that time away from the office.
That time has another huge benefit, in my opinion: it helps to make us more interesting, well rounded individuals. Why is this important?
Well, if you’re in the relationships business – and I actually believe that all of us as entrepreneurs are in one way or another – then the time you spend away from the office is just as important as the time you spend at your desk. It’s when you’re out and about that you meet people, make new connections, develop new passions and, to be quite honest, it’s where you become an even more well-rounded and interesting person. You become the kind of person who other people are interested in – and who is interested in others too – and I think that is absolutely critical to your success as a business person.
I’m not saying that you need to spend all of your time away from your business. Of course not. It’s just a question of balance and of making the most of your time – in or out of work – in order to get the maximum benefit personally and professionally. There’s an art to doing it well – and while I’m not saying I’ve perfected it just yet, I think it’s important to try. Not just because having a good work life balance is good for us physically and mentally – but because it’s good for our businesses too.