With work being repeatedly identified as the major cause of stress and related illnesses for adults in the UK, it is increasingly important to ensure we take adequate breaks and maintain balance in our working lives. Easier said than done as an entrepreneur, right?
For us, the line between work and home time can become increasingly blurred. It’s not so easy to switch off when it’s your livehilhood on the line. So what are your fellow entrepreneurs doing to strike the right balance?
We chatted to SME owner Michelle Costello, founder and director of Fusion Media, Ireland. Michelle founded the company three years ago, and soon realised just how much the highs and lows of building a media company was taking its toll on her wellbeing. Keeping in mind her future plans to focus on starting a family, she realised that she had to incorporate work-life balance into her business strategy.
Be flexible enough to break a pattern, yet structured enough to jump back in
“Creating a functional work-life balance is the holy grail of modern existence, something that just about every entrepreneur who is trying to balance an SME, a family, and possibly a side job dreams of achieving,” Michelle says. “It is hard to get your head into this space because we as people tend to put everything else above our own mental health.
“Things that are key for me are: Being flexible enough to break a pattern, yet structured enough to jump back in. If I find myself constantly having to reroute plans or change priorities, the systems in my life are inefficient. So I take a step back regularly to make my system work for me and my goals.
My space is important
“It is really easy for work-life and home to mix together when you are an entrepreneur and then it creeps into the rest of the home. So learn to switch off and put it all away. When you’ve finished work, step away from the bubble. I think it is really important to be able to do that, and at the same time it is a very difficult thing to do. I use mediation daily before and after work to help my mind focused or to clear it after a stressful day. Even a 3 – 5 minute meditation does help.
Too much yes causes stress
“I have learned to say no to things and it was really hard to do that. Saying no can be really difficult, but knowing when you’re over capacity is crucial if you want to keep from over-committing.
Forgive yourself for the occasional bad day
“I remember someone once said to me jokingly, ‘you know Beyoncé has the same amount of hours in her day as you do in yours.’ To which I replied, yes, but she also had 25 years more in her industry and has had her bad days too! It is ok to have bad days, Beyoncé does, everyone does, you just have to be persistent in your work and it will pay off.
“I don’t have my work-life balance perfect but I started by changing one or two small things and built on that. I certainly feel that I’m going in the right direction.”
Kayleigh Ziolo is a freelance journalist and writer based in Ireland. Follow her on Twitter @Kayleigh_Ziolo