According to a 2015 Gallup study, the average full-time employee in the United States works 47 hours a week — now multiply that by the “small business owner factor.” It might be easier to calculate how many hours you spend NOT working.
Are you constantly putting out fires? Is your smartphone buzzing nonstop with texts and emails from employees? How much time do you spend working in your business, rather than working on it? When’s the last time you took a vacation?
Work-life balance isn’t just a buzzword; it’s the only way to stay sane as a business owner. Trying to build your green industry business with one person (you) handling all the nitty-gritty details isn’t a sustainable growth strategy.
Something’s gotta give, but it doesn’t have to be your grip on reality. Here are five tips to help you maintain work-life balance.
Don’t multitask — time block instead
Only 2 percent of the U.S. population can be categorized as “super-multitaskers,” according to a CNN article. If you think you’re part of that population…the odds aren’t exactly in your favor.
According to Fortune magazine interview with Earl Miller, a professor of neuroscience at The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT, multitasking “ruins productivity, causes mistakes, and impedes creative thought.”
On top of that, it also wastes your valuable time. Every time you switch from task to task — even in what feels like an instant, between two seemingly mundane items — it takes your brain several seconds to react and respond. Multiply that by the number of times you do that in a day, and that adds up to a lot of time and brainpower wasted.
Rather than multitasking, try time blocking instead.
Choose the most important tasks you need to accomplish, and block out significant time in your calendar — daily, weekly, monthly, whatever makes sense — to complete those tasks. During that time, close your office door, refuse calls and meetings, and minimize any distractions beyond the task at hand. Make sure everyone knows this time is yours, and not negotiable, no matter how important the interruption.
Schedule your downtime
Go home for dinner at night. Enjoy the occasional weekend away. Take summer vacations with your family. When you make time to relax, do it like it’s your job!
It’s also important to take breaks within your work day — and actually step away from work. Consider the Pomodoro Technique, a distraction-blasting time management method created in the ‘90s by a developer named Francesco Cirillo.
To use the Pomodoro Technique, choose a single task you’re working to accomplish. Then set a timer for 25 minutes and begin working. When the timer runs out, take a short break. After four of those short breaks, make the fifth break a bit longer — this is a great time to take your lunch break or run an errand!
There are plenty of digital tools that can help you follow the Pomodoro Technique, including standalone apps, iPhone and Android apps, and browser extensions.
How many tasks do you cling to in your everyday work responsibilities that you could easily delegate to other employees? There may be more than you think.
Gary Vaynerchuk, a serial entrepreneur and New York Times bestseller, credits his ability to delegate with much of his success.
“The No. 1 thing you need to learn to delegate well is … that 99.9 percent of things” aren’t as important as you think they are, he says. “If you can learn to let go and realize that most work is not that important, it becomes a hell of a lot easier to let someone else do it.”
Once you’ve hired the support employees your business needs to scale, trust them to do the jobs they’ve been given. Don’t micromanage, and allow their presence on your staff to take some things off your plate.
Limit distracting screen time
How many times have you gone to check your work email on your phone — and wound up in a completely unrelated Internet rabbit hole?
If you have to be on your computer for work tasks but know you’re prone to distraction, try a browser extension like RescueTime or StayFocusd, which allows you to spend only a limited amount of time on “problem sites” you identify before blocking you out of them. (This “time out” allows you to reset your focus and get back to work.)
And when you get home, put the phone down. Whenever possible, leave work at work — and focus on the rest of your life when you get in your car for the evening.
Build systems to streamline your operations
The best way to ensure work-life balance is to create replicable processes in your business operations that streamline mundane, regularly occurring tasks.
Many franchise operations are successful in part because they’re based on a proven system that runs like clockwork. Spring-Green, for example, provides training to all its franchise owners including:
• Yearly business planning
• National conventions
• Peer groups
• Spring-Green University
• Detailed operating manual
• Checklists, processes, and procedures
All this training is designed to keep our franchise owners from having to reinvent the wheel with every operational task.
Spring-Green can help you grow and diversify with our 40 years of experience and our proven expertise in marketing and technology. Learn more about how Spring-Green can help you expand your existing green industry business. Call 1-800-777-8608 or visit us at www.growmygreenindustrybusiness.com.