An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Avoiding Work-Life Conflicts

August 30, 2016

7:00 pm

Work-life balance is obviously a huge topic of conversation for entrepreneurs and their families. After all, many entrepreneurs work in startup environments where 70 and 80-hour weeks are the norm. The key to success is to avoid work-life conflicts.

Create Separation Between Work and Life

Traditional advice states that the best way to achieve harmony in your life and career is by finding ways to bridge the divide between career obligations and family needs. However, there’s another school of thought that says it’s healthier to establish clear parameters and avoid mixing work with pleasure.

Let’s explore this latter way of thinking a bit more and look at some of the different ways you can avoid work-life conflicts as an entrepreneur.

1. Don’t Hire Your Spouse

Many entrepreneurs will hire their spouses (or include them as part of the founding team) in order to spend more time with each other and hopefully forge a stronger relationship. And while this often works, it’s a risky proposition. After all, divorce rates have been on the rise for years and a large percentage of married couples will ultimately split up.

If you work with your spouse and end up divorcing or splitting up, this will obviously have a huge impact on your business as well. New research suggests that stress in marriage can lead to depression.

“It is a common thought that marriage can positively impact health,” writes Michael Schneider of Schneider Law Firm, P.C. “However, researchers set out to discern whether or not that common knowledge always holds true. After the conclusion of an 11-year study involving married couples, they found that stress in a marriage can cause individuals to be particularly susceptible to depression.”

Allowing depression to permeate your business will ultimately impact every decision you make and could possibly run your operation into the ground. It’s best to enjoy your marriage outside of work and create some healthy separation.

2. Leave Work at Work

Entrepreneurs commonly say things like, “I sure wish I could disconnect from work when I get home.” Well, have you actually tried turning of your phone, silencing email notifications, and engaging your family?

“Job stressors drive psychological attachment to the events of the day that make it harder for our brains and bodies to let go and recover the resources they expended,” writes Joe Robinson, stress management consultant. “This sets up a pattern of cumulative fatigue, in which we don’t recoup our resources at night and return to work the next day already behind the energy 8-ball.”

While it’s easier said than done, you need to establish a home environment that allows you to remove yourself from work. If you absolutely must work from home on certain occasions, try to confine this work to a single room in the home. This prevents your entire home from being viewed as an extension of your job.

3. Interact with Kids on Their Turf

There’s a common theory that entrepreneurs should bring their kids to work with them if they want to spend more time together. While this seems to make sense in theory, it actually has very little practical value. Not only is having your kids at work distracting, but it essentially tells them that work is the most important thing in your life.

Instead of bringing your kids to work, interact with them on their turf. This shows them that you’re actively sacrificing in order to spend time with them. They may not realize it when they’re younger, but they’ll begin to grasp this truth as they mature.

4. Separate Your Social Networks

In order to fully separate your personal and professional lives, you must separate them online. Instead of befriending your friends, neighbors, co-workers, business partners, and employees on every social network, establish some guidelines.

One of the best rules of thumb is to limit Facebook to personal friends and LinkedIn to professional connections. This creates some division that allows you to tune out your personal life when you’re trying to get work done – and vice versa.

“If you do this, it’s important to warn people in your professional life who are expecting to be accepted as a Facebook friend,” says Amber Mac of Fast Company. “In other words, let them know gently that LinkedIn is where you like to do business.”

Stop Trying to Bridge the Divide

Make no mistake about it – it’s incredibly difficult to separate your personal and professional time. However, contrary to popular belief, it’s not impossible.

If you’re trying with all of your might to bridge the divide and merge both aspects of your life, you’re actually creating unnecessary stress and may be compromising your relationships (in both arenas).

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Larry is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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