Tips for Balancing Your Life and Your Startup

Starting a business can be harrowing. One day you might be focused on the product, the next customer relations, and through all this you are likely thinking about finances and strategy on how to pull it all off. All of this can, and usually does, take an emotional toll that you might even carry home where the stress really doesn’t belong.

Tips for Balancing Your Life and Your Startup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Finding balance in this game is more than a personal thing; it’s a balancing act of tasks, resources, and goals on top of the personal aspects playing in the background. However, there are some things you can do so you can maintain more equilibrium in the most chaotic of times.

At work focus on work

While you’re at work, focus on work. There are a few ways to do this, and none of them are right or wrong. What matters is what works for you.

Write lists
Writing a list or lists, depending how you want to break it up helps you stay focused. You could take a queue from J.T. O’Donnell, CEO or CAREERALISM.com, and write down 10 things to do every day that benefit your company as a whole. The benefit of this method is that it helps you stay focused on the big picture so you don’t get overwhelmed by the little details. It also gives you a visual of your tasks so if you do get side tracked, you can get right back to it after you take a breather.

Schedule your time
There is a dichotomy in business that pulls you in two directions at once. In one direction there is productivity, and in the other, sanity. Why not combine these two directions into one by scheduling your time off? One technique for this is called the pomodoro technique, which breaks your time into 25 solid, interruption free minutes, then gives you a 5 minute break to stretch, get a cup of tea, or any other short task. Then, another 25 minutes of work, and a 5 minutes break. After 4 such intervals, you’re rewarded with a lot less on your list and a half hour break to go consult with colleagues.

Another popular way to schedule your time follows the 18-minute technique by Peter Bregman. In this method, you would take 18 minutes a day to prioritize what’s important. Take 5 minutes at the start of each day, and 8, one-minute checks throughout the day and an additional 5 minutes at the end of the day. These checks are designed to allow time to prioritize, eliminate distractions, and reflect to make sure you’re still on track for your goals.

Load up on tools
Some tools are just time wasters, but others you’ll actually use a lot. For instance, if you read the same sites every day, you might want to look into something like Morning Coffee, a Firefox addon that allows you to open all your favourite websites with a single click of the mouse. On the other hand, if you browse for ideas and mentors on a wide range of topics, you might find Startup Management, a website that aggregates many, if not all, the blog articles related to business development in one place. While these are just two tools that may be useful, there are hundreds more out there that might be useful for some, not so much for others.

Another tool you might find invaluable, especially if you work in larger groups, is Asana. It’s a web-based productivity tool that does a lot more than just a task list. It also allows you to delegate tasks, keep track of projects, and write little notes to each other on the projects. You can even let customers follow along with the progress and put their input in as the project progresses.

After hours

Many people that are starting up a company become the company – even in the off hours when they are supposed to be having a life. This work life balance may become difficult, resulting in burn out, relationship problems, and more emotional turmoil than you bargained for. To keep momentum going at work, try to turn it off for a while to have some time to connect with others and relax. O’Donnell has another piece of good advice on this front: Remind yourself at quitting time that business is over for the day.

At Benevolent Generation, we encourage all our customers, partners and employees to have a good work/life balance, from the startup and beyond.

About Alice Edwards

Alice Edwards is an experienced operations manager and project manager. Her background includes a focus on working with internet and e-commerce companies including a celebrity social media company and a customer-based website with over 4 million members. At Benevolent Generation, Ms. Edwards builds and oversees the operational and administrative teams.