Running a successful small business can be highly rewarding, but there’s no doubt it also comes with many challenges. The unpredictability of the past couple of years have been a trial for many, with wider uncertainty leading to many leaders feeling the need to be ‘always on’.
We conducted research earlier this year among micro and small sized business owners which backs this up. This found that the vast majority (88%) say that work regularly interrupts their personal life. It’s no surprise, then, that a further seven in 10 (69%) put improving their work-life balance high on their list of priorities.
While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to improving this balance and overall wellbeing, there are things leaders can do to better support themselves – and ultimately the success of their business. Here are three steps leaders can take to help on the journey to better wellbeing:
Take a proper break
Almost three-fifths (58%) of business leaders say that a ‘physical’ break would be most valuable to them. Doing something that properly takes them away from the day-to-day of home and office life is best for helping leaders feel they’re getting a proper break. Adding structure can further help support this – whether that’s sightseeing in a new place, or trying a new hobby or activity, which two thirds (66%) of leaders said they were keen to do. Keeping busy with new experiences can help prevent the mind from wandering back to what might be happening in the office.
Taking a proper break from the day-to-day is not only vital for good mental health and wellbeing, but can ultimately make business leaders better at their jobs. This is something the vast majority (85%) of leaders in our research recognised – stating that regular breaks away from work are important to being a good leader or manager. It’s clear that the value of proper time out of the office cannot be underestimated, for both personal and professional gain.
Build balance into your daily routine
We’ve established the importance of a longer, more formal break away from the office for improved wellbeing. But this won’t work in isolation; if there’s too much time between breaks, which can often be the case, it can become challenging to properly unwind and relax.
Around three-fifths (62%) of leaders in our research said they make more mistakes when they don’t prioritise downtime – revealing the commercial risks of not making this an integral part of your day-to-day.
And, similarly, creating discipline around the end of the working day is crucial.
Nearly half of leaders (46%) say they feel guilty about not spending enough time with family or friends due to work commitments. And 85% agree that activities and interests outside of work are important to help them unwind and disconnect – yet despite this, 46% report not having enough time to pursue interests and hobbies. Carving out dedicated time that allows you to properly switch off – will ultimately help you be more productive and focused the next day at work.
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Prioritise your own wellbeing
The turbulence of the past couple of years has had a lasting impact on leaders, with over three quarters (77%) saying the pandemic has changed the way they think about their life and personal priorities. Despite this, leaders aren’t always turning thought into action, as half of those in our research state they won’t take time off if they haven’t got anything planned. A further 65% say they won’t take time off if they have too much work on their plate. But, as we’ve established, there’s a direct correlation between a healthy work-life balance and the ultimate success of a business.
Shifting the dial on the ‘life’ part of work-life balance has multiple benefits. Our research suggests leaders recognise this, noting that a better work-life balance will lead to better mental wellbeing (48%), improved mood (35%) and stronger relationships (30%).
But there’s no one size fits all approach to improving the work-life balance. Remaining flexible and prioritising rest and recuperation at times that suit both you and your business can go a long way in boosting wellbeing.
In times of uncertainty, stress levels understandably tend to creep higher. But taking the time to prioritise wellbeing and good mental health will ultimately pay dividends in creating increased resilience to tackle whatever challenges the business world throws at you in the months ahead.
This article comes courtesy of American Express, a globally integrated payments company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success.