The concept of work-life balance has been around for decades, but has been a constant part of the conversation in recent years. It used to mean not being tied to your desk, but now the focus has shifted to spending quality time with loved ones and being able to pursue your hobbies and interests.
It transforms the narrative of success from mere professional accomplishments to a holistic achievement that includes a fulfilling life outside of work.
Despite the growing awareness of the importance of work-life balance, long working hours, limited personal time, and soaring stress levels are still the norm for many business owners. The relentless demands of running a successful company mean that self-care, family time, and personal commitments end up falling to the bottom of the priority list.
Here, we’ll explore why a healthy work-life balance is key to unlocking a sustainable and rewarding entrepreneurial journey, and how a virtual assistant (VA) can make it possible.
Why work-life balance matters for business owners
There's no doubt that running your own business takes passion, dedication, and resilience. But in the constant pursuit of success, many business owners end up sacrificing themselves on the altar of productivity. Ironically, in trying to be as productive as possible, this can have the opposite effect.
Health consequences of poor work-life balance
There are many ways that poor work-life balance can negatively affect your health. These adverse effects can be split along three main lines: physical, mental, and behavioral.
A meta-analysis of ten years of evidence, The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health (Wong, 2019), reveals the dangers of pushing yourself to the limit. The study found that working long hours increases the risk of experiencing adverse health outcomes by 25%. Equally alarming, it leads to a significant increase of approximately 45% in related health issues.
A similar paper by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) found that around 750,000 people around the globe die from work-related coronary issues. The researchers suggest that stress and blood pressure are the primary culprits.
These illnesses are just the tip of the iceberg. Pushing yourself into overdrive over sustained periods can also lead to digestive issues, headaches, musculoskeletal problems, and a weakened immune system.
While physical health issues are rampant among leaders, the conversation around the effect of overwork on mental health has become more common in recent years.
There is no shortage of studies on the effect of long work hours. In Impact of working hours on sleep and mental health (Alfonso, 2017), the researchers establish a strong link between overwork and depression. Similarly, The impact of long working hours on psychosocial stress response among white-collar workers (Lee, 2017) demonstrated how heavy work schedules increased stress.
Too much stress can lead to burnout, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, “includes being worn out physically or emotionally.” They also suggest that a lack of work-life balance is a significant risk factor for burnout.
Other mental health issues that can result from a lack of work-life balance include insomnia and anxiety. These issues can make it tough for business owners to focus and stay motivated, which can be disastrous for productivity.
One consequence of an unhealthy work-life balance that is less well understood is its effect on behavioral health. Working too much can lead to a range of negative behaviors, including substance abuse (smoking, alcohol, drugs), poor eating habits, and withdrawal from social situations.
As you can see, efforts to reach productivity at any cost can really harm well-being.
Finding some level of work-life balance is essential if you want to hit your potential. Developing sustainable work habits is a big part of staying in the game.
Productivity consequences of poor work-life balance
The mental, physical, and behavioral impacts of working too much have a negative effect on productivity in several different ways:
- Working long hours without proper rest and recovery can lead to burnout. This can result in disengagement and a decline in the quality of work as you struggle to meet the required standards.
- High levels of stress can hinder creativity, which is essential for brainstorming, innovation, and strategic thinking. The ability to generate new ideas and think outside the box can be significantly reduced when you're feeling overwhelmed.
- Health issues caused by poor work-life balance and a lack of self-care can result in missed work days or showing up at work with reduced capacity, which further impacts productivity.
- Stress and burnout can also affect cognitive health, leading to errors and mistakes that can be costly for businesses. These errors can damage your credibility and result in lost opportunities.
- Burnout can quickly spread throughout a team or organization. Toxic expectations and a culture of overwork can lead to decreased morale and productivity across the board.
The other victims of poor work-life balance
Working yourself to the bone is one thing, but when it starts to affect the people around you, it takes on a whole new dimension.
A business owner's poor work-life balance can hurt their own employees. A recent global poll by The Work Institute at UKG showed just how much influence managers have on their employees. A staggering 69% said their manager had just as much of an impact on their mental health as their spouse and even more of an impact than their doctor (51%) or therapist (41%).
These sobering statistics underline how owners set the tone in their businesses. If you’re not at your best, it’s not just your productivity that can take a hit. It’s also the morale and mental well-being of your employees.
Owners who are in good physical and emotional health can inspire their team. They have more energy and vitality, which allows them to lead the charge. When business owners disconnect from work each day, their employees report that they can more effectively guide, coach, and direct work to their teams.
On the other hand, a stressed, unhealthy, and burned-out boss will struggle to provide the support and guidance that employees need to thrive.
How a virtual assistant can help
Spend some time online and you will see a lot of people telling entrepreneurs to “take a step back” and “focus on what is important.” While this is undoubtedly good advice, it can be frustrating for small business owners to hear.
The thing is, this well-intentioned advice sometimes misses why entrepreneurs go all out. It's not just down to being workaholics, because let's be honest, who doesn't wish for more time to relax with loved ones or pursue hobbies? It's because today's fast-paced business world is increasingly competitive, and many businesses are operating within fine margins.
So as a small business owner, it's crucial to find practical solutions that help you maintain a healthy work-life balance without sacrificing your dedication to business growth. This is where a virtual assistant (VA) can be a valuable asset.
A virtual assistant can provide the breathing room you need by taking on various tasks and responsibilities, allowing you to focus on the core aspects of your business that only you can do.
They can handle administrative tasks such as email management and scheduling appointments and meetings, and can even help with your social media or customer service duties. By delegating tasks to a virtual assistant, you can free up your time and energy to concentrate on strategic decision-making and revenue-generating activities.
Let’s explore more reasons why business owners should hire VAs to help restore a healthy work-life balance...
With so many different tasks and responsibilities involved with running a business, it’s all too common for owners to spread themselves thin and then worry that they’re not allocating adequate time and effort to the more strategic aspects of their role.
If you find yourself wracked with guilt that your priorities aren’t getting the attention they need, delegating tasks to a virtual assistant frees up the time and energy you need to stay focused on the jobs that matter most.
You can use our free to-do list optimizer tool to see just how many (or how little!) of your current professional responsibilities actually need to be done by you, and identify tasks that should be taken off your plate and handed over to virtual assistants.
See: How To Prioritize As An Entrepreneur: What To Do When All Tasks Feel Important
More “you” time
With an ever-growing list of responsibilities and a limited amount of hours in a day, no matter how hard you try there are bound to be times when it's simply not possible to accomplish everything within the time frame you have available.
So it's easy to see why, according to recent findings, 86% of business owners work on weekends, 53% work on major holidays, and 60% take just one vacation a year. 75% of those who do take vacations admit that they still work during that rare time away from the office.
Naturally, having fewer tasks on your plate means you'll be less likely to work late or bring work home with you. Being able to draw a firm line between work and personal time is crucial for giving your mind and body the chance to fully recharge, as well as being fully present with your friends and loved ones.
See: How To Leave Work At Work: Tips For Always-On Entrepreneurs
A more manageable schedule
If you're used to working long days, skipping lunch breaks, and burning the midnight oil to make sure everything's ticked off your to-do list, these can be pretty tough habits to break by yourself.
Having a virtual PA to handle your schedule and to-do list can be a game-changer in helping you avoid overloading yourself.
With the right instructions, they can make sure your schedule is well-balanced and realistic, with plenty of breaks, instead of constantly packed to the brim with too many tasks and meetings.
What’s more, having an extra set of eyes can help you prioritize the most important tasks that need your unique skills and experience, and offload those that don’t.
See: How A Virtual Assistant Can Help You With Scheduling And Calendar Management
Less strain on your budget
As cash flow problems are the biggest killer of small businesses, it comes as no surprise to hear that money is one of the most significant causes of stress for entrepreneurs.
But let's be honest, the immense pressure to make ends meet and maintain profitability rarely stays confined to your professional life, it can seep into your personal life, too. The impact of these worries often leads to sleepless nights and strained relationships, causing your overall well-being and work-life balance to plummet.
Hiring employees to lighten your load will go a long way in restoring balance to your work day, but you need to be mindful of how this will affect your profits. You might be reducing stress in one area, but creating a whole new source of stress in your finances.
That's why hiring virtual assistants is a great alternative.
Working with these remote professionals allows you to delegate tasks without the added overhead costs associated with traditional employees, such as recruitment costs, employee benefits, office space, supplies and equipment, and so on. Not only that, but you only pay for their productive time working on your tasks, which is usually a far more cost-effective option. In total, you could save up to 90%!
This way, you can still enjoy the benefits of lightening your workload and maintaining a better work-life balance without those money worries tarnishing your much-needed personal time.
See: Virtual Assistant Vs. Employee: Which Is Best For Your Small Business?
What's the bottom line?
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have to work as much as physically possible in order to succeed, especially for business owners. Working insanely long hours may traditionally be seen as a badge of honor among entrepreneurs, but it's important to remember that success is not solely determined by the number of hours worked. Your health and happiness are crucial aspects of a truly fulfilling life.
Outsourcing low-impact tasks is not a sign of weakness or incompetence, but a smart and strategic move that allows you to maximize your productivity and make the most of your limited time.
So, let go of the guilt and embrace the opportunity to give 100% where it's needed most.
If the stress of balancing work with your personal life is becoming overwhelming, Time etc is here for you.
Since 2007, we have helped business owners save more than 1.5 million hours by matching them with the best virtual assistants to tackle their time-consuming admin tasks.
It’s the equivalent of:
- 200,000 working days spent growing their businesses
- $112,500,000 earned in extra billable time
- 18,000,000 bedtime stories with their kids
- 8,928 well-deserved vacations.
Speak to our expert team to get started, and we'll handle the rest! We'll match you with a skilled virtual assistant based on your unique business needs, so you can start doing more of what matters most.
Or try us out for free today!