You’ve heard of work/life balance, but how about work/work balance?
As a young entrepreneur, school may still be in the picture and balancing it with the day-to-day rigors of running a business can seem downright impossible. The sacrifices you’ll make are often deeper, and there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to excel at either activity to your satisfaction.
But there are ways to make the work/work juggle more manageable — and still get some sleep. Here are seven tips:
- Be realistic. Joel Weldon, a motivational speaker in Scottsdale, Ariz., once said, "The problem with unrealistic goals is that you reach them just often enough to think they're realistic." Having lofty goals will surely give you something to aspire to, but you can wind-up putting unfair pressures on yourself. Instead, set realistic goals that are achievable given your other time commitments.
- Switch hats often. Let your business be a great break when you're tired of studying, and go back to your schoolwork when the pressures of your business get discouraging. By switching from business to school, you can create enough contrast to keep each area of your life fresh.
- Prioritize. Sometimes your education must come first, and sometimes you may set it aside temporarily to reach a business goal. Maybe you can drop a class to free up more time for your business. Or, you may postpone your website release for a few months so that it doesn't conflict with final exams. If it takes you five years to graduate instead of four but you leave with a flourishing business, you're still ahead of the game.
- Plan ahead. Both businesses and classes have busy and quiet times. Don't let those moments pass without moving ahead. Putting off projects in either arena risks the longevity of both activities.
- Do double duty. Look for opportunities to use class projects to explore your business goals. If you're asked to research an industry, choose the one where your business operates. Use your business as an example in marketing and strategic management classes. Research one of your potential customer groups in your market-research class. Remember: FedEx started as a class project.
- Take breaks. With both responsibilities, what’s most likely to suffer is your personal life. Be sure to find time to exercise, eat well, socialize and relax. If you have to, schedule free time into your day. But if you find yourself sacrificing that time to your school or business too often, re-think your expectations. Life is about reaching your goals, but it's also about enjoying and valuing the journey.
- Let go. There will be times when you simply can't meet all of your deadlines in spite of your planning and hard work. Give yourself permission to let some things go. Work with your faculty and suppliers or customers to see where schedules can loosen without doing damage. If you’ve been working hard, most people will recognize the challenges you face and give you a break once in a while. But don’t take advantage. If you let go too often, admit that you're taking on too much and need to make adjustments.