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Dear David: Achieving a better work-life balance

April 2/9, 2018: Volume 33, Issue 21

By David Romano

 

Dear David:

I purchased two flooring stores from my parents about 10 years ago. My wife works alongside me and we have two children. Growing up, I watched my parents spend most of their time inside the store, which took a toll on my childhood and their well-being. I swore I would not let that happen to my family, but I find myself doing the same thing. Help me break this pattern before this business breaks me.

Dear Owner,

You are not alone. A recent study by Family Living Today and Now Sourcing uncovered surprising statistics about work-life balance across the country. Right now, the United States ranks 30th out of 38 countries that have positive work-life balance. Maybe that’s because, according to the research, more than 11% of American workers say they work 50 or more hours a week, and 66% do not believe they have a healthy work-life balance. In fact, many people (33%) also find themselves working weekends or holidays.

According to the same study, some of the short-term effects at home of a poor work/life balance include: 38% lack of  focus and engagement at home; 51% missed important life events; 40% ruined time spent with family/friends (conference calls, called away from activities); and 50% less time with friends and family.

Some short-term effects at work include: 36% poor productivity; 68% poor morale; and 41% feeling burnt-out or fatigued.

What’s even more alarming are the long-term health effects for employees working over 55 hours per week: higher risk of coronary heart disease and stroke; higher risk of anxiety (1.74x) and depression (1.66x); higher stress and cortisol levels throughout the day when expected to be available to work on their off-hours.

Here are some things that can be done:

Switch off your phone. Checking updates and emails during your time off interrupts your relaxation and stresses out your body.

Make time for exercise. Physical activity boosts energy and concentration and is usually the first thing scratched from your schedule when you are busy.

Eliminate the extras. People who are overworked tend to overwork themselves. I recommend painting a Kanban chart on  your office wall organizing tasks, with “to do,” “doing” and “done.” This will allow you to keep track of tasks, become more efficient and feel comfortable walking away from the office when everything you set out to do for the day is done.

Delegate. This is normally the Achilles heel of small business owners. There is glory in being involved in every facet of your business and putting in more hours than everyone else. However, studies have shown no correlation between working longer and harder and the profitability of a business. The most successful entrepreneurs own a business and not a job and spend their time managing people and process. Once you build a strong, self-reliant team with detailed job descriptions and dashboards your life will change in an instant.

The E-Myth Foundation found that business owners who took more than one month vacation each year were both more efficient and more profitable than those who took less time. Spend individualized time with each member of your immediate family every year. This allows for bonding and an appreciation for those who have sacrificed for the good of your career.

David Romano is the founder of Romano Consulting Group as well as Benchmarkinc Recruiting. He is currently the director of Romano Group, headquartered in Dallas. You can contact David at david@romanogroup.com.