Is achieving work-life balance sort of like finding a leprechaun or buying your niece a unicorn for her birthday?

If you think a balanced life is completely impossible for small business owners and startup types, think again. Here are 7 suggestions to make sure that even when you’re enjoying your work, your work isn’t completely taking over your life.

1. Set boundaries

When you work for yourself, it’s easy to work constantly, especially if your business is a startup. Learn to set boundaries for yourself and for your clients.

Keeping consistent office hours is a great way to teach clients that you’re not on call 24/7. But check yourself – if you find yourself tempted to answer emails late at night or on weekends, write them in draft mode and send them first thing Monday morning.

2. Schedule social events

When you’re super busy, anything that’s not on the calendar can get lost in the shuffle. Schedule a happy hour with friends, a cooking class or a date. Then, no matter how swamped you are at work, keep the appointment as if it were work-related. After all, it is – if you don’t have any play time, your creativity at work will suffer big time!

3. Commit to “me time”

Small business owners are constantly giving to others – trying to keep clients happy, motivating employees and making excuses to significant others as to why they’re working late yet again.

But what about you? If you don’t schedule some much-deserved me time, you’ll quickly find yourself burning out and shutting down completely. And then who’s gonna run your business? Schedule a massage, stat!

4. Adhere to business norms

This is perhaps the easiest way to cultivate work-life balance, but so many SMBs miss it completely!

You do not have to answer that email right away, and you certainly don’t have to return phone calls past 5pm on a Friday. It’s totally acceptable to answer emails within 24 business hours, and the same goes for phone calls.

But what if it’s an emergency?

Unless you work as a paramedic, it’s never an emergency. They can wait, your sanity can’t.

5. Check your thoughts

How much time do you spend thinking about work when you’re not working? These kinds of stressful thoughts ruin your down time and make your whole life consumed with work, work, and more work!

Another great way to find that work-life balance is to develop mindfulness through meditation, and get conscious about how much time you’re spending “at work” when you’re physically not even there. The first step toward getting rid of “work brain” is noticing your thoughts.

6. Take frequent breaks

Taking breaks throughout the day is not only great for brain functioning, it makes work feels less like work! Go outside and talk a walk, sit and enjoy your coffee for a full 15 minutes, or – get this – take an actual lunch break.

Remind yourself that first and foremost, you’re human!

7. Learn to say no

In an effort to grow their business and please clients, many SMBs “yes” themselves to death. Don’t be afraid to tell people no. It’s better to be firm up front than say yes and endure endless stress because of it.

Being a savvy business owner doesn’t mean making everything happen for everyone all the time. Finding a work-life balance means honoring yourself and your health first and foremost. If you’re sick with stress and nursing an ulcer, who’s going to run your business?

How do you find a work-life balance?

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