Improve Your Work-Life Balance By Applying These 4 Business Skills to Your Personal Life

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Although work-life balance has been a part of the public narrative since the 70s, entrepreneurs still struggle to understand how to even out the scales when it comes to building their businesses while still taking time to enjoy their lives.

Over the last decade of my entrepreneurship journey, I’ve learned that the same skills that led to my business success also helped me achieve the elusive balance in my life.

So I come to you with an unusual proposal. Instead of turning off your entrepreneurial mojo in the quest to achieve balance, crank it way up. Here are four elements I use daily to maintain balance.

Related: 6 Secrets Smart Leaders Employ to Achieve Work-Life Balance

Analyze opportunity costs and trade-offs

Instead of thinking of “balance” as “all things being equal and excellent” analyze the opportunity costs of the activities you’re involved in. Then, determine the trade-offs you’re willing to make, just as you might in your business.

As entrepreneurs, we understand everything has a cost. The root of making good trade-offs for the benefit of your work/life balance is taking time to analyze the opportunity costs of how you spend your time, resources, money and energy in relation to all areas of your life.

As an entrepreneur managing multiple companies, I actively make decisions about things I’m willing to let go of in my quest to honor what I care about most. Of course, those decisions can change, but I make the decisions without letting external forces make them for me.

One trade-off I recently made was lessening my relationship with social media. Since one of my companies is a marketing communications agency, this might be seen as a poor trade-off since social media is a key vehicle for client marketing. What I discovered was that I was spending too much time on social media as a consumer (and not a leader, influencer or producer). This was cutting into the time I could have spent on other activities I value more.

I value my time and prioritize trade-offs that give me more of it. In my work-life balance quest, time has become a core value for me, but yours might be different.

Pivot like your life depends on it — because it does

When we don’t experience our ideal work-life balance scenario, we may feel stuck or even adopt an “it is what it is” mentality. But if there’s one thing we know from entrepreneurship, it’s the power of pivoting to help us see the growth we need.

Pivoting allows you to course-correct while still maintaining enough familiarity to avoid cognitive overload or to bite off more than you can chew.

In my world, the need for pivoting is fully driven by problems, challenges or discomfort. I like to say “discomfort is data” — and data, as you know, is a powerful tool.

If you’re feeling discomfort in your quest for work-life balance, this means something has risen in your awareness that you can identify needs changing. The power is in pivoting around this discomfort to experiment with temporary or long-term solutions.

For example, I implemented this tool to solve a source of discomfort for me: my morning routine. My solution was to pivot and start experimenting. I kept some things the same, including my rising time, but I wanted to change almost everything else. I began pivoting to see what worked for me and what didn’t. First, I coupled activities. Then I decoupled some activities. I also removed some activities and modified others.

The most important place to start is by asking yourself: Where am I experiencing discomfort in my work-life balance journey, and what’s one pivot I can make today to improve it?

Related: 4 Business Practices That Will Improve Your Personal Life, Too

Create a balance plan

Think back to when you first started your business — what was the one thing that everybody and their mama told you to have to get started? A business plan!

Your quest for work-life balance is no different. Do you have a “balance plan?”

Similar to how you would set aside time for strategic planning for your business, do the same for your personal life. Maybe you have non-negotiable items you do daily to help with balancing. Perhaps your balance plan is more of a playbook for how you handle certain things.

For example, do you have “calendar rules” for when you’re online or offline at work? Do you have specific personal goals you track and report on with an accountability buddy just like you do with your professional goals? I do all these things and each of them contributes to my work-life balance.

Additionally, part of my balance plan is regular strategic planning around work-life balance with annual, quarterly and weekly goals. I even maintain a spreadsheet of all my goals together.

Since I’m the person at the center of my business, it’s important for me to value the work I do for my personal life just as much as my professional life.

Before your next work-life balance pivot, take 30-60 minutes and come up with a balance plan for yourself. Start by asking yourself: What do I want my work-life balance to look and feel like?

Complete a plus/delta or post-mortem review

When you complete a launch in your business, the best way to improve upon your success, mitigate future issues and plan for the next launch is to do a post-mortem on the project, complete a plus/delta analysis or do a performance review.

But analysis and measurement shouldn’t just be reserved for business operations. This same strategy can be used outside of your business to align your daily actions with your vision for running your life.

Analyze your work-life balance efforts with the same or similar cadence as your business efforts.

In my life, I adopted the “12-Week Year” methodology for strategic planning. Every week, I briefly review how well I did on my goals and use that information to plan for the next week. At the end of the 12 weeks, I analyze the entire process. Since I track my personal goals alongside my professional goals, I see the balance, because I kept all elements of my life as blended on my strategic planning pages as they are in real life.

Related: 10 Leaders Who Set Good Work-Life Balance Examples

Let’s be real. Adulting is hard, and when you consider the added challenges that entrepreneurship brings, it can feel like an insurmountable endeavor to keep all the plates spinning. The truth is, being an entrepreneur is all about taking responsibility and accountability for your success, but that sense of responsibility and accountability doesn’t end when you close your laptop and go from professional mode to personal mode.

Whether it’s applying strategic planning to your personal life and creating a balance plan, embracing trade-offs, experimenting with pivoting on particular issues or conducting regular post-mortems on your balancing act, these are all tools in your arsenal. They are proven to work in business empires, so now it’s time to apply them to You, Inc. and see what awesome growth you can achieve.

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