As 2021 winds down and the world slowly returns to some semblance of normality post-pandemic, it’s hard for some of us to go back to a world where work stayed at work and home stayed at home. For many of us, strict lockdown restrictions threw that separation out the (office) window, throwing efficient time management and how to balance work and play out along with it. 


If you took the time and had the inclination, you’d realise that having a blurry line between work and play doesn’t bode well for productivity or your general well-being. Come on, you must have had a hunch about that up to this point? Well, here’s your confirmation: achieving and managing the ideal work-life balance can significantly reduce stress and help you prioritise your well-being, while reaping the rewards of a more valuable kind of productivity for you and your business. 


Understandably, finding the right balance is especially hard for entrepreneurs given that your business is like your baby that you simply have to take the best care of. But the best parents know that if they’re not taking good care of themselves first, how will they be equipped to give the best of themselves to the little one? 


You’ve come this far into 2021 (congrats, btw), now let’s look at some ways to optimise your time and yourself to make it through the final stretch in one, mentally-stable, well-balanced piece. 


1. Have a schedule


And stick to it. Working without a schedule is one of the easiest ways to derail any attempts at a work-life balance. You can’t begin to figure out how to balance work and play without first having a solid schedule for how your day will run. The beauty of sticking to a strict schedule is that you’re better equipped to prioritise the important things, and able to easily filter out the not-so-important things. 


A woman creating a schedule in her diary


Better yet, it gets you into the habit of setting very clear and necessary boundaries – for yourself and for those who may demand more of you and your time. 


However, let us be clear on this: do schedule in time for non-work-related activities like exercise, family time, reflection; heck, some of you are so far gone, you’d probably need to schedule in your meal times and toilet runs too! 


2. Take breaks


For the love of all things good, please take breaks away from your workstation and from meetings. While we’re on that, don’t think of meetings as breaks either – you’re still working. Got a cancelled meeting? Rejoice! Use the time to take a walk outside, do some stretches, or practice therapeutic breathing exercises.


A woman sitting in a seated position taking a break on her yoga mat


Not only will taking regular breaks combat the ‘sitting syndrome, but your best ideas may come to you in your downtime. In which case, you score because you’re still getting work done even though you’re taking a break from it. A win-win if there ever was one. 


3. Get help


At this point, some of you may be reading this and thinking, “sure, easy for you to tell this solopreneur to take breaks when you aren’t the one doing all the work all the time.” We get that, but it opens up another big obstacle. Sometimes you just can’t do it all on your own, and that’s okay. 


A female virtual assistant sitting on a couch talking into her phone


While there is no holy grail for how to balance work and play, you can bet that enlisting the help of an assistant would be ingrained on there – in bold. It’s not rocket science – as you delegate tasks, you’ll be in a better position to free up your own time to do the things that you simply enjoy for the pleasure of it. Said like that, it sounds like an indulgence, but the truth is, getting help from a virtual assistant could be the difference between burnout and smooth sailing. In addition, it will also free you up so you can focus on the parts of the business that rely on your particular insights and ideas. 


4. Try the Pomodoro Technique


Before you start salivating, the Pomodoro Technique is not an Italian dish, but rather a productivity hack that involves six incremental objectives. It breaks tasks up into 25-minute increments, calling for a short break after each one, then a longer break after four 25-minute increments. 


A man leaning back in his chair taking a break from his work desk


The goal is to work harder, not smarter, and trust us, working smart is ultimately one sure-fire way to balance work and play.


5. Switch off


Once you’ve established a smarter schedule and way of working that best optimises your time, you should be in a more comfortable position to switch off. The thought of switching off may send chills down any entrepreneur’s spine, but you’ll find that once you get into the rhythm of a better way of working, along with help, then switching off seems a lot more possible than you’d previously imagined. 


A happy family of 4 on the floor


If you can’t commit to switching off entirely, then at least start by turning your mobile’s notifications off after a certain time in the day. This takes the work’s power over you away even if for a short while, and places the power in your hands. By that we mean, you’re in control of what you want to address and when, rather than getting instant demands for what needs to happen ‘now’. 


As with advice on anything in life, it’s always there for the taking, but ultimately you’re best-placed to know what works for you, and the same goes for how to balance work and play.

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