The Myth of a Work-Life Balance

16 Jun 2021

As an entrepreneur, it's hard not to look back and reminisce on inevitable failures or what-ifs. To solve this, many find themselves searching for the ultimate work-life balance to help clear their mindset and make time for more important things like family time. But, what many fail to realise is that the notion of a 'work-life balance is a complete myth. Here's why.

'Work-life balance' is just another term for 'Time Management' recontextualised. Since they were young, many entrepreneurs have had a strong work ethic installed into their psyches through academics and education. Many are raised believing that to succeed, you must be working day and night to become as successful as Musk, Bezos, and Branson. The reality is far different; of course, a work-hard ethic is just as valuable as it is toxic as it heightens your drive. However, all there is to being successful and preventing burnout is just setting boundaries.

Practising Mindfulness

Practising mindfulness and gratitude can be a great way to rebalance and find purpose within your work again. In a world full of chaos and distractions, it's completely understandable why you'd be looking for the calm amongst the storm. Here are a few ways you can do so:

  • Yoga and Pilate's - doing yoga not only makes you happier by releasing endorphins as it's a form of fitness. It provides you with a safe space and breathing exercises to help calm your thoughts and refocus.
  • Affirmations - practising affirmations daily can help increase productivity by allowing you not to dwell on negative thoughts and instead replace them with future goals and/or self appreciations. A great one to start with is "All my thoughts and efforts lead me to the success I desire" (for more, click here)
  • Mobile Apps - one of the many perks of living in the 21st century is that mobile apps can help you destress, refocus, and practice mindfulness. Popular favourites are apps like Calm and Headspace, which provide you with audiobooks and guided meditations to help you unwind.

Detoxing From Social Media

Typically, when taking a break from social, most people give it up for thirty days. However, if you work in business, the chances of you using social media to promote it and provide updates are very high. So, how do you detox from social media when it's integral to your business strategy? First of all, you don't need to go completely cold turkey; you just need to set boundaries.

Apps such as Facebook and Instagram now include screen time warnings in their settings, so you can pick and choose how long you should spend scrolling before being told to come off it.

Another excellent method is to set yourself a personal curfew on viewing emails and checking social media. This is particularly handy in the evenings when you want to spend time with the family after a long day at work. For example, you could set yourself a goal to leave your phone somewhere out of sight from 7 pm and not touch it until the morning after. This way, you are not only freeing yourself up with more time to spend with loved ones, but you also allow your brain to truly relax as it's no longer absorbing the blue light from your screens. Blue light can be highly influential towards headaches and disruptive sleeping patterns if devices are being used excessively.

Remember, life's too short. Generally, there's nothing that can crop up after work hours that can't be sorted the following day. The best way to avoid burnout is to not bring your work home with you, and when it can be helped, finish tasks only when you are at work.

Prioritising Yourself

Recuperation and recharging your batteries is incredibly important for your well-being. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or burnout, take an hour out. Go for a walk or curl up under the duvet with your favourite TV show. Burning out is a tell-tale sign from your psyche that you have had enough. There's no point in trying to power through it as often it can make it worse and lead to things such as long-term anxiety, depression and nervous breakdowns. When being faced with an issue, a good way of getting to grips with it is practising the 'so what' method. This is an exercise where you describe the worst-case scenario for the problem you are facing. See this example:

"I've had to cancel my important meetings this afternoon, as my child isn't feeling good."

"So what?"

"There were important connections and great opportunities at those meetings."

"So what?"

This will then lead you into your steps for what's next. You may decide to email them and rearrange, or if that doesn't work, network when you return to work and make better connections. Either way, this exercise helps to alleviate the pressure of your problems by transporting you out of 'all or nothing' thinking and calms your anxieties with solutions.

Ultimately, work-life balance is just 'balance'. Your work doesn't define your life. Life's too short, and if you find yourself getting overwhelmed, burnout or stressed, it's best to prioritise yourself before any work - commitments. With the world becoming increasingly more connected, it's more than natural to find yourself over consumed. In fact, in 2020, workplace burnout rose by 24% and is expected to be higher in 2021. By looking after yourself and setting boundaries, not only will your stress levels decrease, your business will be more successful.

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