For many of us, the summer months can be the busiest (and most fun) time of the year. It is certainly my favorite season! As the demand for work and personal time increases, you may be finding yourself struggling to maintain a good balance between managing your business and having time to enjoy those summer nights. (It doesn’t get dark till 10 pm where I spend most of my summer….) While being busy with work can possibly mean committing upwards of 40+ hours a week, the dedication you show to your business still warrants a few July and August weekends for yourself.
As summer has arrived with it’s long days, it’s important for all of us to find ways to manage our workload so that our work days don’t fill up all that extra sunshine. Here are a few ways that have helped me to achieve a healthier work-life balance during the summer months:
Manage Your Time
Easy to say right! Although organization is essential to time management, and I’ll touch on that later, being able to delegate responsibilities is also key to managing a healthy work-life balance. Administrative tasks, such as answering calls and emails, can typically carve out a large portion of your day. It’s important to set aside time for those administrative duties so you can focus on other aspects of your business. Set aside a 60 minute slot per day and dedicate it solely to messages and emails instead of trying to stay on top of them throughout the day. If you do it all day, guess what you have gotten done at the end of the day – email and messages and probably not the big rocks or the really important projects. If you devote 60 minutes only each day you work to email and messages, you will find yourself saving time that could be better used doing other tasks, be more productive and get to the actually more important parts of running your business. I worked at IBM years ago and I can remember management talking about how email was going to save us time. Not so much…If you still find that you need assistance in managing communications, consider hiring a seasonal employee to help you get through the summer season and give yourself a much needed break. A family friend or neighbor could be ideal. Maybe they aren’t helping you with emails, but they are helping you get to some of the other projects on your place. Sometimes we just have to get those things (like cleaning out the garage, my husband’s personal favorite) off our plate and off our list!
Plan & Prep
Being able to prepare ahead of time for the expected ebbs and flows of summer will help you settle into a better work-life balance. Review your business’s past performances so you can plan ahead and set strategies for a smoother transition and one that will free up some time for you! The ability to forecast expected performance can help your business transition from off-seasons to peak seasons. Taking into account possible contingencies like a slow season or surge in business can help you achieve that healthy work-life balance. My company is launching India right now so you can imagine how fun and exciting that is. We are taking advantage of this during the summer AND finding time to enjoy family and sun and beach too.
One of the easiest methods to free up your time and enjoy summer is by being organized. While this may seem to be the most obvious, many of us find it a struggle to manage the workload as peak seasons demand increases. To maintain a seamless operation and, even better, maximize your valuable time, be sure to update your calendar, schedule every meeting, and keep all of your paperwork in order. You may not be able to plan everything and there will be unexpected meetings or issues that will surface and demand your immediate attention; however, creating a detailed day-to-day schedule can help you remain on track and get you out of the office and out by the pool! Focus on the 3 to 5 most important things every day. I love lists but I am learning to use lists less and focus more on the big stuff. Life is too short to be tied to a list of 100 things to do everyday. Many of those things don’t really need to be done and sometimes we use those lists to get the simple stuff done and not the most important. I use a priority list: What are the 5 most important things to get done this week? And then I schedule them out during the week.
Taking time for yourself, both physically and mentally, is important to enjoying the summer and it helps you to be happier, and more focused at work when you do work. It’s quite possible that you’re faced with new responsibilities daily. Managing your business may guarantee a certain level of stress, and it’s always important to take steps to help ease workplace stress so that you remain focused on your business. Being able to create a space away from your business is also important because reclaiming those weekends or at least part of the day, lets you recharge, reconnect with loved ones and friends, and remember your “why” for working as hard as you do. If you feel the need to check emails on a Saturday or Sunday, limit it to one or two times a day. We aren’t meant to be attached to technology and our to do’s 24/7. That isn’t how I want to live my life. Your passion for work shouldn’t come at the expense of having a personal life. Work should be used as a way to bring new vibrancy to your life and to help you grow as an individual AND allow you to create the life and lifestyle you wish with the family and friends that you adore.
Operating your own business does, however, mean that there will be some personal sacrifices. If summer is your favorite time of year, make sure you are enjoying the sunshine too. I am going kayaking later today…Growing any kind of business needs time and dedication but it’s also important to find those ways that can help you manage a healthier work-life balance. It will never be perfect and it will always be something to work on – but it is definitely worth it!