Running a business part-time can be difficult, especially when it is in its first stages. Many entrepreneurs begin their business ventures on the side while working another job, often from 9 to 5, so that whatever leisure time is left must be divided between family, friends, and their own project. In these circumstances, it becomes difficult to prioritize an individual venture or take into account life outside of work.
Neglecting one part of your life can lead to changes in other equally important things. “If entrepreneurship is celebrated as a means of giving people the opportunity to define the kind of life they want to have,” says Jennifer Wang for the Entrepreneur, “how tragic that it comes at the expense of other things worth having.”
If you are diving into the world of entrepreneurship, or have a part-time venture you are struggling to manage between everything else, here are a few things that might come in handy in the long run.
Redefine your goals
What is it that you want to achieve with your venture? Are you looking for monetary rewards only, or is there something less tangible but more fulfilling that stems from leading an entrepreneurial life?
How you label the purpose behind your decision to become an entrepreneur is important. Learning to look past the financial aspect of the venture, and knowing what your ultimate goal is—for instance, eventually having the freedom to pick your own schedule or having the opportunity to lead a team towards a goal you believe in—can help put into perspective how this new project fits into the other parts of your life.
Due to the wonderful advent of technology, work can follow us anywhere we go. For an entrepreneur working an unscheduled amount of hours, this can become a problem. Knowing when to turn the switch off is essential in order to maintain a balance between all the tasks that a part-time or new entrepreneur has set out to manage. When everything around them is a priority, highly driven people tend to forget about themselves as an important factor in the equation.
Taking at least half an hour to an hour a day to do something for yourself, be it read a book, go watch a film, or go out for a walk or a run, is the most important thing when it comes to finding balance. When we can recharge by taking personal time, we give our minds and our bodies the space they need to properly do other jobs.
Greg Rollett, from The Product Pros, says he schedules his personal time like an important meeting. “To ensure I never miss a class [CrossFit], it is scheduled into my calendar weeks in advance and my day is planned around it just like an important meeting with a client. If it’s scheduled, you will do it. If it’s not, you won’t.”
Have a work-space away from home
For an entrepreneur, there is a fine line between working at home and working all day.
In this sense, physical space becomes an issue. When you work at an office, you are conditioned to leave work there when you step out of the door. If you are in the beginning process of your project, it is likely you are working from home, or somewhere that you frequent not related to work. Designate a space for work that has no relation to the rest of your daily routine, and schedule a certain amount of time for it. When the time is done, you leave (with few exceptions of course).
Just like Google Ireland did with its employees by having them turn in their work devices before leaving the office, it helps to try to leave work outside the home. This is another way to manage time effectively.
Work on Focus
It is known that Millennials have a larger capacity for multitasking than other generations, but it is also much harder for someone in this generation to focus their attention 100% on one thing while they are doing it. We are almost conditioned to look up at any sign of new stimuli.
Presence is imperative. Learning to focus on what you are doing at any given moment eventually leads to effectively using time with each. So, when you go have lunch with your family, you won’t be thinking about the deadline you missed because you were distracted with a thousand other things at work. Learn to make that division, so that the quality of time spent on each is much more effective.
For this reason, balance is about learning to listen to what you need to do at a given moment in time. Today, you might need to invest more time on your job than on your project. Tomorrow, you might be feeling stressed and need a break from all the things pulling at you. The key lies in not ignoring these signs that there is something you need to attend to, whether it’s work-related or not, and placing all your energy on that one thing.
Ultimately, the key is in incorporating work into your life. Like Sheryl Sanberg, COO of Facebook, says, “There is no such thing as work-life balance.” Although many would disagree, I think there is some kind of truth behind this statement. When you take on the responsibility of becoming an entrepreneur, what you’re passionate about should fit into your daily routine instead of becoming something you look at like an outsider. I’m not talking about sitting at a computer every day after work, working till dawn and not stopping at any time. I’m talking about being aware of your daily surroundings through a new lens and catching opportunities for your venture as they come.
Accentuating your radar is, for me, the most important part of finding balance and leading a successful venture. As a writer, I’ve learned to tune in to my surroundings wherever I am, trying to catch all the stories that we are usually tuned out of. I do this because I love telling stories, and because, as my mind often wonders, it also helps me focus on the present moment. I listen more attentively, I engage more actively in conversations, I remember more and leave each encounter knowing I was there, not wanting to miss anything.
This takes me back to what I said before about working on focus. When you begin to learn to switch on your entrepreneurial lenses, you are always, in a sense, working without having to take away time from your family, your daily run, or having a drink with friends on the weekend. When your personal life and your work life are in sync, there is no need to work on balance.