Managing a small business, especially a start-up, is one of the toughest jobs because it’s your “baby.” You wake up and think about it, go to sleep thinking about it, and any free moment you wonder if there’s something else you could be doing to engage people in your business. As someone who just launched a small business, and still works full-time as a teacher, I find my universe-given 24 hours simply unacceptable, but there are always greater priorities.
When it comes to balancing work and life, it’s all about prioritizing; the question is how to prioritize. I advise looking at the bigger picture of time. In the limited time we have on Earth, it’s the lives you’ve affected that really count. I always put my family first, no matter if I have a big vendor show, or a pile of papers to grade, when it comes down to it, I want to know that I spent my time with people who I love, and people who love me. I never want to regret missing the opportunity to spend time with my parents or grandmother, because time is fleeting, and in the end, the work will be there tomorrow, but your family may not be.
When it comes to friends and having a social life, I advise looking at it through a big-picture calendar. Pick a weekend or two that you will absolutely make free of work obligation, and send out a mass invite for your friends to go out for dinner. We know that true friendships can withstand the absence of physical presence, but they don’t withstand the absence of caring. I also always stash a stack of random cards and stamps; when I find myself with ten minutes (and we all can find ten minutes), I will hand-write and mail a random friend a card. Little acts go a long way.
In whatever situation, it’s important to remember balance. You have to listen to yourself. You know when you can go hard, and you know when your body is telling you to take a break. Take those breaks. Pick those days to go hard. It’s okay to say no. Repeat – it’s okay to say no. Nothing should be so taxing on your time that you feel obligated. If you’re not going somewhere or doing something with your heart intact, just don’t do it.