How to run a business and still have time for you

Finding it hard to run a business and have time for you? 

We talk about work life balance and this sounds like it should be 50-50, perfectly balance and easy to do.

However, if you’re struggling to find the holiest of Grails and you’ve made it a mission to achieve it, create perfect harmony in your life or even gave up finding it a long time ago.

This is for you.

Perhaps we could rename it from work/life balance to a work / life melting pot, a mish-mash or even work /life relationship with an on-going element of give and take. This work / life balance that we strive for ‘Is it achievable?

When you work for yourself and by yourself, setting up in business or you have been in business for a few months or even years or decades, work and life can blur together. It’s how you approach the impact, the merging and the blurred lines that I believe can make the difference.

Here are my 5 steps to creating a work / life mish-mash:

  1. Take care of YOU
  2. Accept you cannot do it all in one day (aka patience)
  3. Clarity & Planning
  4. Setting Boundaries
  5. Enjoy being your own boss

1. Take Care of YOU

If you are exhausted and overly tired then you won’t get anything done well. Working into the wee small hours, catching a few hours’ sleep, only to start again a few hours later isn’t sustainable. Learn to take ‘time out’ to recharge and then you can focus on the tasks in hand.

I appreciate that when it’s you that is ‘the business’ there can be a million and one things you feel there is to do and all have to be done now, this instant, if not sooner.

You can also take care of you by noticing how you communicate with yourself. Are you surrounding yourself with ‘I should be…’, ‘I’m not doing enough…,’ ‘I’ll never get this done…’, ‘This is how it is when you work for yourself…’  or ‘To keep ahead of the game, it’s what I need to do.’

Feel free to add your own examples of how you are communicating with yourself and note the impact this can have.

2.  Accept you cannot do it all in one day (aka Patience)

As the saying goes, ‘How do you eat an elephant? Once chunk at a time.’

So, learn to break down your elephant.

Do you have a to-do list of 25 key tasks for today? And there are a couple of things on that list that take 1.5 to 2 hours each?

Sorry, but you know those 25 key tasks you have for today? Well, they are not going to happen are they?

Select the Key priorities for the day. Those tasks that will keep the business moving forward.

3. Clarity & Planning

What will help is Clarity & Planning.

First of all, be crystal clear about what you are aiming to achieve.

Then, plan what you would like to achieve by a certain time or a key task you may have eg you have a report to write. This might sound daft but then you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve this is when you can work towards making it happen.  Step by step.

When you know what you want then you can break down your end goal into smaller chunks.

To do this, start by working backwards. If you have a goal for the end of the year then work backwards, month by month, break down what you want to achieve and what you then need to do each week and each day.

Eg You have a report to write, and you are time poor, plan to spend smaller chunks of quality time on this task rather than setting yourself a timescale that is NOT achievable

As the saying goes, ‘How do you eat an elephant? Once chunk at a time.’

So, learn to break down your ‘elephant’.

4. Setting Boundaries

Setting boundaries will enable you to have a distinct cut-off point.

  • When you are at work – you are at work
  • When you are at play – you are at play

Let me give you a couple of examples:

A business owner took their young child to the park and it was a beautiful sunny day. The child was giggling as they went higher and higher on the swing. Having a great time!

The child shouted out to their parent ‘Look at me!’ but what they see is their parent on their mobile phone checking emails or their back to the child as they ‘take an important call.’

A group of friends are out for an evening meal at 8pm, catching up on what is going on in their lives and enjoying each other’s company. One member of the group is on their mobile phone replying to emails even though the replies are going to people who won’t read them until the following day.

When we work for ourselves and by ourselves our working day may not be 9am – 5pm. It can be a few hours here and there working around other commitments and we may not work in an office.

Here are some of my thoughts on how to create boundaries:

Whatever you are doing be in that moment and commit fully to it

(Refer back to the examples above. If you are in the park you are in the park, if you are out with friends you are out with friends, if you have a report to write you write it even if it’s 20 minutes.)

Accept you only have so many hours in the day and unless you are a super hero there’s not a thing you can do about it (please put the cape away :))

Manage your own expectations and those of others eg If you reply to an email instantly, when you are on holiday or even during the night this will quickly become a norm for you and your customer.

5 Enjoy Being Your Own Boss

Being your own boss can be challenging, daunting, exhausting, scary and everything else in-between but you can Enjoy what it offers you.


  • Why you want to work for yourself?
  • Why did you set up your business in the first place?
  • What benefits does it give you? More flexibility, choice, freedom from the ‘Rat Race’ or are you doing what you are passionate about?

Know someone that could do with a wee bit of help with their life/work balance (mish-mash)?

Feel free to share.


Comment 1

  1. Anjela
    October 6, 2015

    Truer words have never been written! Great tips on balancing life and business. I’m curious to know if this Blog caters to female small business owners who are mothers specifically. Great content.

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