Balancing Life and Work: How to Unplug When We Wear So Many Hats

As we watch the world shift from a traditional corporate environment to an entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial landscape, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to disconnect from our digital devices.

People in the workforce today crave a work-life balance, but what does that really mean – especially if you work for a small to mid-size company, or are a solopreneur?

I was recently approached by a colleague who asked my opinion on how to step away from your business without losing traction or leaving clients hanging. While contemplating the idea for an article topic, I received numerous out of office replies for one-month trips to Europe, which urged me (somewhat out of envy) to make a quick checklist to share on the key methods I have found to be effective.

  • Work as a team, but prioritize your own oxygen mask. If you do not take care of yourself first, you simply cannot take care of others. I stole this one from the airlines.

  • Develop systems and processes for when you’re not available. This could include using various types of software, project management systems (personally, I love Asana), or even train a fellow team member so they can provide support to the rest of the team while you are absent.

  • Keep communication lines open. Even if you do not have an answer or you need more time, maintain open communication lines. This is absolutely essential for keeping people from that uncertain feeling of guessing what is next, or feeling that their request is not important.

  • Set clear and realistic expectations of timelines and deliverables. We all want to deliver the perfect work product or service with quick turnaround time, but unfortunately, this does not always happen. Identify clear, realistic deadlines and scope, and then track your timelines to see if what you are promising is actually working. If it is not, build in a buffer so that you have the time you need to create something you are proud of sending. Always underpromise and over-deliver.

  • Hire people to do the things that you are not an expert at doing. I learned this concept from a former boss who asked me why he would mow his own lawn if he could spend $100 while utilizing that time with a client and earn $1,000. Point well taken, and this is why I hire a bookkeeper (and I love her because I don’t have to step away from my normal work to reconcile my accounts).

  • Consider engaging a coach. I use three coaches, in addition to weekly calls with an accountability partner, all whom I am forever grateful for as they have helped me to break through ceilings that I thought existed. As long as clear alignment is established around the values and principles that are important in the relationship, it is amazing how much we can learn from other people who bring in an alternative perspective and unique knowledge and expertise.

In addition to this quick checklist, I have found it incredibly important to team up with the right professional advisors and strategic partners to keep you and/or your business on track. The President of Navitas Wealth Advisors, whom I work with directly, always quotes “we aim to provide best in class, which isn’t always best in house,” and I completely agree with him. Find advisors and partners who will keep your business compliant and on track for growth. Nobody likes to worry about receiving notices that they missed a deadline or lost an opportunity.

Since participation trophies are no longer handed out for who can put the most face-time hours in at the office, it is important to find a system that works for you so that you are able to spend the time you want on the things you want to experience. Develop systems and processes, maintain open internal and external communication, establish a realistic scope of work and deadlines, and lastly, hire experts for the tasks that drain your performance or that you can delegate out for less than you charge.