Striking the right balance between work and play is an issue that most business owners have always had to wrestle with.
And now the coronavirus pandemic means business owners and leaders are re-evaluating their work-life balance further, so we asked Sid Madge, author of ‘Meee in a Work Minute’ to share his experience on how to strike a fulfilling balance.
I remember first hearing about Covid on the news sometime before Christmas 2019. It never even occurred to me at the time that the virus would reach the UK, never mind drive a freight train through my life and my business.
We’ve all be affected one way or another. The lucky ones have embraced the forced downtime, caught up with DIY around the home and reconnected with family, safe in the knowledge that they were financially supported by government in some way. The unlucky ones have lost their life or have lost a loved one.
On top of that we now face predictions of economic slumps that will make the 2008 crash look like a picnic.
And yet there is hope.
Let’s look in a little more detail at what’s been happening and what opportunities might exist for us as small busines owners. I will also share some practical tips on actions you can take today to create a new and better work/life balance.
Are you bringing business home with you?
Up until lockdown all my focus was on my business. My job was to get out there and tell the world about the Meee Programme, to encourage people to invest in themselves to access their best in each moment.
I wanted to shout from the rooftops about the Meee in a Minute book series, that offers one-minute life hacks for life, family life and work. The irony was that I was not fully living my own ethos and appreciating those little moments myself.
In my haste to talk about the development programs we could produce, the people we could help ‘out there’, I missed a lot of those tiny moments where I could help and support the people ‘in here’.
In my business, in my family and within my relationships. I was always thinking about the next meeting, the next client, the next presentation or training programme, the next book or the next workshop and like many business owners I often brought those thoughts home whether I wanted to or not.
Gaining a different perspective
I’m still passionate about my business but Covid has given me a different perspective. We all know that life is lived moment by moment – I teach this stuff! And yet it is so easy to ignore this in practice. We are either locked in the past chastising ourselves for something we’ve done (or not done) or looking out to the future to something not yet lived.
And this is especially true for small business owners who have to wear so many different hats. But life happens moment by moment – right now. I’m not interested in going back to the new normal – I’m looking for new balance.
Life as a business owner and much more
And, according to a recent YouGov survey I’m not alone. Only 8% of Britons want life to return to ‘normal’ after the virus danger has passed. We are all being reminded of what is truly important and meaningful in our lives and that is a gift.
I’ve remembered that I’m not just a business owner, I’m a father, friend, son, brother and co-parent. And when it’s all over and we reach the twilight of our lives it is those relationships that will define us every bit as much as what we may or may not achieve in business.
Nobel Peace Prize winner and social entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus reminds us that pre-Covid wasn’t actually that great! Although it seems a lifetime ago now, at the beginning of 2020 many of us were protesting for greater climate change reform.
Many more were deeply concerned that we were running out of time to reverse the damage we have inflicted on the planet. Extreme weather events had become commonplace. AI and technological disruption were already causing seismic shifts in employment. Mental health issues were on the rise. And global inequality was already obscene. Is that really the world we want to go back to?
An opportunity to reshape our businesses
As business owners we have a unique opportunity, unencumbered by shareholder expectations to lead the way in re-shaping business. Business needs to adapt; we need to define what we want this ‘new balance’ to look and feel like.
Our embrace of technology, home working and digital solutions is unlikely to recede completely even once a vaccine is found. While this move was enforced by the virus many, especially Gen X and older, have been surprised how easy to use and useful the technology is.
Home working gives greater freedom, flexibility and provides a better work/life balance, which is likely to be attractive for employees moving forward. And it is small business owners who are likely to have the most flexibility in terms of making business work for everyone.
Five steps to create a new balance
Below are five practical steps to help make this ‘new balance’ a reality in your business and in the lives of your staff, your customers – and yourself:
Start and end with gratitude. Yes, it’s tough but take a minute at the start and end of every day to consider what you are grateful for right now.
Take 10 -15 minutes out of each day to read an inspirational book. For example, ‘Meee in a Work Minute’ has 60 one-minute nuggets of wisdom including life hacks, advice, insights, science, short exercises, and thought experiments to ensure you start the day with positivity and confidence.
Take some time to consider what’s really important in your life. If something doesn’t add value at work or at home, eliminate it from your life. Focus on what matters professionally and personally. Focus on what makes you happy. And make these things the priority.
4. Do what you can today
None of us know what is going to happen. Just do what you can today for your business. What could you do differently that could make your staff’s life better, easier, more enjoyable? Ask your team for input on what they would like the new balance to look like.
Connect with people you care about – at work and at home. Remember we are not just business owners; we are human beings too. Honour both and enjoy the little moments with people you love.
This is and will continue to be unusual and difficult time and there is likely to be more uncertainty ahead, but it has also been a gift. An opportunity for us to reset.
We can reboot our businesses so that they are both more sustainable and more successful. And we can reboot our lives the way we want them to be so we can be the best version of ourselves more of the time.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Sid Madge, founder of Meee (My Education Employment Enterprise) which draws on the best creativity and thinking from the worlds of branding, psychology, neuroscience, education and sociology, to help people achieve extraordinary lives, and author of the ‘Meee in Minute’ series of books which offer 60 ways to change your life, work-, or family-life in 60 seconds.
More from ByteStart
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