Does this sound familiar to you? You finally manage to take a weekend off from work and become totally relaxed and reenergized. Realizing the value of striking a healthy work-life balance, you vow to work less and take care of your physical and mental health. But then you find yourself back in the office running faster than ever.
If this sounds like your life, you’re definitely not alone. According to a February 2018 FlexJobs survey of more than 1,200 people that analyzed how work impacts overall satisfaction, only 30 percent of respondents report being satisfied with their work-life balance. Eighty-six percent responded that work conflicts with their ability to take care of their health.
I talked to 11 business owners who have determined how to strike a healthy balance between work and the rest of their lives. They don’t always achieve a perfect balance, but they do find that the following tactics help them to live more balanced, healthy and satisfying lives.
Reduced Work Week
“Several years ago, we implemented four-day work weeks so everyone could take time to regroup, de-stress, enjoy more time with friends and family and care for themselves. Having employees who feel taken care of and appreciated makes me feel more balanced as a business owner. I also take a few weeks every summer to recharge my batteries, which helps to ensure a work-life balance.”
—Rhonda Allison, founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals
Daily Time Off From Technology
“My husband and I charge our phones across the room, away from our nightstands. We start this at least an hour before bedtime and don’t check the phones again until an hour after we wake up in the morning. Being able to shut off in this way has actually increased our productivity at work while also helping us connect with each other at night. In the morning, I prioritize having breakfast with the kids, or squeezing in a workout or enjoying a relaxing shower before picking up my cellphone and tackling the hustle and bustle of the day.”
—Erin Halper, CEO, The Upside
Work-Life Balance With Meditation and Exercise
“The choices we make each day to maintain work-life balance have a lasting impact on how satisfied we are with our lives and health. It took me years to understand that it’s okay to give yourself ‘time off’ when you feel maxed out. Now I meditate each morning, try to work out at least two times a week and give myself brief breaks throughout the workday. Most importantly, I enjoy a nonnegotiable family and personal day each weekend.”
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—Swarna Kuruganti, founder, The Clear Scoop
“You must take care of yourself to take care of others. Exercise, vacation, adequate sleep and eating well are all vital to preventing burnout. I also practice yoga and meditation. And I’ve been studying Judaism, which has a practice of 25 hours of disconnectivity, from Friday night to Saturday. I’ve been trying to turn off my cellphone to be present with friends and family. This practice is so liberating and helps greatly with work-life balance. It feels like an actual break from the ‘race.'”
—Nicole Liebman, commercial real estate agent, HUDSON RE
Quality Family Time
“Before starting my own business, I was in a high-pressure job that left me mentally rundown, physically sick and emotionally agitated. Now I wake up every day excited to grow my business and find as a result that I’m incredibly efficient. I exercise daily. I also cook breakfast for myself and my 11-month-old daughter and spend time with her. This quality time focused on her is a huge part of mentally setting me up for the workday.”
—Alice Kittrell, founder and CEO, Outgift
“Although I try very hard to separate work and personal time, I realize that work-life balance is the key. Owning a business means I can never truly turn off the work valve. Over the years, I’ve learned that if I want to be productive in my business life, I have to be happy, healthy and have peace of mind. I make it a priority to spend personal time with the people I love. I’m also interested in having a healthy mind, so I make sure to expose myself to positive thoughts, as well as healthy eating habits.”
—Miko Branch, CEO and co-founder, Miss Jessie’s
and author of Miss Jessie’s: Creating a Successful Business From Scratch—NaturallyTravel
“For me, traveling is vital to my health and work-life balance. Some of my best ideas have arisen because of my trips around the world. There is a misconception that taking a vacation means you’re lazy. To me, it means that I value my health. I travel extensively, but I also work while I’m away. You get one life, and I like to live mine to the maximum.”
—Janice Schacter Lintz, CEO/founder, Hearing Access & Innovations
“Work-life balance is about preventing burnout and realizing that your health is your wealth. That may mean waking up early and working out, meditating or journaling. I’ve found that inserting some ‘me-time’ into the schedule is crucial. It’s also important to be flexible.”
—Michelle Turman, CEO, Catalyst Consulting Services
and author of Jumping the Queue—Achieving Great Things Before You Are ReadyTime Management
“Entrepreneurs pursue professional passions, which means they sign up for the what I refer to as ‘the thrill of imbalance.’ Imbalance doesn’t mean you can’t retain control, though. When you’re in charge of your time, you can navigate the white water of imbalance and remain productive, happy and healthy. I’m a fervent list-maker. Every evening I look ahead to the next day and write down no more than three tasks that MUST be completed, giving myself the freedom to prioritize and pursue other things on the fly. I do the same at the start of each month, each quarter and each new year.”
—Anna Zornosa, founder and CEO, Ruby Ribbon
“I’ve found that you can attain work-life balance by focusing your attention wherever you are. If I’m at work, that’s where my attention goes. The same goes for my home life. To counter the hectic days, I make it a point to take my kids to school every single day, no matter what. The time I spend driving them is all about them. You want to be able to go home and do something you enjoy, whether it’s getting in a great workout at the gym, having game night with your kids or catching a movie with your spouse or significant other.”
—Gina Argento, CEO and president, Broadway Stages
“Seven years ago, I had an epiphany about my health. I realized that my life is the most important thing in my life. Staying fit makes me a better father, husband, leader and person. Once I decided to seek work-life balance and change my lifestyle, I felt empowered to achieve new goals and experience more purposeful living.”