Balancing Your Life and Your Business

Every day, the demands on your time pull you in many directions. There is a lot to fit into 24 hours, while still getting sleep and exercise to stay healthy. Here are some tips to help you handle all your responsibilities, including work, family, leisure, managing your property, and all the extras that don't fall into neat categories.

Pre-Plan

Figure out where all your time goes by carrying a blank schedule with you for a week. On it, jot down every conversation, meeting and activity that takes your time. Include time spent thinking, and what you thought about. According to a recent article in Entrepreneur, "This will help you understand how much you can get done during a day and where your precious moments are going." At the end of the week, evaluate that schedule and learn from it, so you can organize your time more efficiently.

Have Goals

You've probably already done this. You want to be successful, right? That's a goal. Now ask yourself what you could do that would move you toward success. You might come up with something like "upgrade the appearance of my rental unit so that it's worth more."

Not all goals will be about your business, though. A happy marriage or spending time with your children or friends can be a goal. Keep all of your goals and how to achieve them in mind as you move toward planning your time.

Plan the Day

Experts like the Harvard Business Review agree: the biggest factor in managing your day is to devote some time to planning it. Each morning or evening, spend up to 30 minutes planning the coming day. Ask yourself which tasks are most urgent, which accomplishments will give you the greatest reward, and what actions will contribute to your goals -- these are the items that should be on your to-do list for the day.

Here's an example: if upgrading your rental's appearance would help you achieve one of your goals, you might add a step to your to-do list like "call three painters for estimates" or "research affordable design trends."

Don't turn your daily plan into a huge list that will swamp you. Focus on four to six tasks that you can reasonably accomplish during the day, then schedule blocks of time to work on those tasks. On your calendar or in your appointment book, choose an hour and write in your specific task: "Call three painters."

Stick to your plan as closely as you can. As you complete each action on your list, pause and think about what the importance of it is. What do you hope to accomplish? That will keep you focused.

Take Breaks

We all need breaks. Don't beat yourself up because you spent 10 minutes playing Bejeweled. In fact, some experts assert that taking 10 minutes out of each hour to play or otherwise refresh yourself is a good way to stay productive, and scientific research backs this up. So get up and jog around the house, grab an apple, or stretch. Any time lost will be made up for by a renewed sense of purpose and focus.

How Much is Enough?

It's hard to know when to knock off work for the day. Many business owners tend to work well into the night, but try scheduling time to keep yourself happy and healthy instead. After all, the reason you're putting in the work is so that you and your family can enjoy the benefits.

Spend time with the family, hang out with friends, and always have a couple fun or intellectually stimulating non-work activities scheduled for each week as well. The true key to balancing work and play is to always make sure that there is enough of each in your life, so that the promise of time off motivates the work day and the knowledge that free time is limited keeps it highly valuable.

POSTED November 24 2014 2:50 PM
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