A moment of transparency.  I sat down today to write this post and I honestly had a difficult time with it, at first.  This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart.  I strive daily to create an environment where my team and myself can strike that balance of working hard and living well. So why is it so hard to get started writing about it?

Well, and here is the transparency part, I don’t always succeed in my mission.  I intend too, but not always.  And that, dear readers, is when I had my “a-ha” moment.  

Intentionality.  I went back and looked at our company values and there it was, listed first. “Intentionality: We put thought into everything we say or do.  We seek to add value to everyone and every relationship.”   

Notice it says “add value to everyone and every relationship”.  It doesn’t say add value to just work relationships but to every relationship.  It’s the “every” relationships I want to focus on. How can I keep growing small business, being involved in my community, and find the necessary balance in nurturing my other relationships?

Now, I by no means, have this concept mastered.  But I would like to share with you some of the things I do to help keep this balance in check.

No Phone Zone

I have a dedicated time each day where my phone is completely out of sight.  Use that time to check in with your family in person or take some time out to do something that you enjoy.  I know, for me personally, that even if my phone is on vibrate and I can see it, I am still going to check it.  So now I take an hour or two in the evening and just put it away completely.  I know that whatever I have going on will still be there when that hour is up.  Not only is it good for me to take a break, but it is good for the ones I love to see that I value them enough to focus on them without distraction.

Set Boundaries & Stick to Them

For small business owners and leaders, sometimes work doesn’t end at closing each day.  I am very familiar with this concept! Checking and sending emails at late night hours is sometimes a necessity for me.  Do I expect my team to respond outside of business hours?  No I don’t and they know that.  It is important to me that they know they can disconnect each day.  This makes for a much happier and productive team.

Setting these same expectations for clients is also very important.  We all want to go above and beyond for our clients.  That is wonderful, as long as some boundaries are put in place to manage expectations.

Sometimes emergencies happen and a problem does have to be resolved outside of normal operating hours.  That should be an exception, not a rule. 

If you consistently answer calls or emails at any time of the day or night, that sets up unrealistic expectations.  This creates unnecessary frustration that could lead to less than acceptable service.  

Now I know in reality, sometimes the only time we have to respond to communications is at odd hours.  That is why I appreciate my email interface that allows “delayed delivery”.  This way, I can answer an email, but have it delivered to my recipient at a set time.  Expectations managed!

Schedule Free Time

I live by my calendar; I know most of us do.  I schedule everything else, so why not pencil in some free time.   

Maybe it’s going to the gym, or on date with your spouse. Maybe it’s taking the dog for a walk or reading with your kids. If it is on my calendar, then I am going to do it.  If it’s not, well it doesn’t always get done.  

Encourage your employees to do the same thing.  Consider giving your team an hour off during the month.  Rotate people leaving early or coming in late.  Encourage them to do something for themselves in that time.

Serve Others

It is amazing to me that when I am helping others in our community, how quickly I forget about the stress of my day- to-day.  Serving people in need quickly helps me put things into perspective.  

If you are not currently volunteering somewhere, look into it.  There are lots of groups that are in need of dedicated people to share their time with them.

Encourage your employees to volunteer for groups that are important to them. Support them in their efforts when you can.  Consider volunteering as a company and have employees submit and vote on an organization your company could adopt.

The Take Away

This all sounds great on paper, but real life gets a lot messier.  I get that.  Each morning, I have the opportunity to choose to be intentional and add value to all of my relationships.   Some days that is easier than others. 

No matter what ways work the best for you, my hope is that you will become more intentional in your own work/life balance.  

Finally, I will leave you with this quote “never get so busy making a living, that you forget to make a life.”