This article first appeared in September 2010.
I’m two months into my new business and I’m finding that it is taking over my entire life. I have no time to do anything with family and friends and I can barely sleep at night. How can I gain some work/life balance?
My experience is that starting a new business is all consuming, so this is not a surprise. You cannot do everything well all at once.
It is also not a bad thing, as any new business is tenuous and takes a lot of time, focus and effort. It is so difficult to get everything right at the outset and this is stressful and time consuming – and the impact of getting it wrong can be fatal to the business.
The critical thing is to manage expectations – yours and your family’s. If you can put a plan down together (eg. agree the first four to six months will be all about the business), then you will be more settled.
It is all about sharing the goal and the journey and not feeling guilty about it. I would explain this to the people who are important to you, get their support (and hopefully their help with other stuff like chores), and then settle down to establishing the foundations for the business.
Set a timeline and goal to celebrate together when you reach that milestone in a few months time so everyone feels they are part of this new business. Reward everyone involved even with something as simple as a handwritten note of thanks.
It is also important to ensure you are using all of your time as effectively as possible, so any free time is well utilised. I always found making lots of lists to be the most productive – I have a notepad in the car, next to my bed and on me at all times.
Your “thinking time” is “planning time” and this helps with time efficiency.
Separate your lists into what is urgent and what is important (and don’t do anything that doesn’t qualify for either). You may find this also helps with your sleeping as you will be feeling more in control and less stressed.