How to keep the optimal work-life balance as entrepreneur: 5 tips

Rinkel collega Janine
Janine Wilbrink
update: 02 March 2023

Customers trying to reach you late at night, finishing the administration on a Thursday evening and wrapping up some to-do's you had left over the weekend. For many entrepreneurs and self-employed people, of course, this sounds incredibly familiar.

And although it has been an evolution from the beginning of your business, when you had to go all out to bring in sales and orders, the question now is: do you really want it to be like this? Or stay that way?

How do you ensure that you no longer only have work-related conversations at the kitchen table, or that during a pleasant evening you have to excuse yourself because you get a call from a supplier or client? Or maybe you're here as a soon-to-be entrepreneur and you want everything to be right from the start: your business should not affect your private time. Then this article is also for you!

In either case: read on!

The importance of a good work-life balance

It has been an important topic for years, although it has really taken off in recent years. Certainly when we look at the graph from Google Trends, a report that allows you to see how certain words and terms are decreasing or increasing in popularity.

In this case, a definite increase since they started tracking back in 2004!


Grafiek work-life balance gebruik wereldwijd trend

So it's a hot topic. Especially now that working from home is a normal concept in the Dutch market, for some the line between what is your private time and what is working time is blurred. Added to this is the combination with "Het Nieuwe Werken." Or: "The New World of Work".

As Skepp writes: The New World of Work is a new way of working which means that you work where, when and how you want. In other words: The standard 9-5 disappears with The New World of Work and you plan your day yourself.

Starting your workday at 1 p.m.? Or work from the coffee place around the corner? Or maybe you are at your most productive at night and prefer to work through your e-mails at 11:30 p.m.?

A nice touch, of course, that you can arrange your day the way you want. But it might blur your work-life balance even more.

It is very important to be able to hit the brakes on yourself and say: not right now. Because a good work-life balance is crucial for your motivation to work and has a great influence on your mental and physical health.

How's that so?
Go1 mentions a few important points in their blog on work-life balance:

People who neglect their personal lives and work more than 55 hours a week have:

  • 1.66 times higher risk of depression
  • 1.74 times higher risk of anxiety disorders
  • 1.3 times higher risk of cardiovascular disease including stroke

In addition, women with partners who work more than 50 hours per week are less satisfied with their relationships than women whose partners work less. Family relationships and friendships also suffer from work-life imbalance.

That's rough.

Tip: Also from an employer's point of view: the same Go1 article we mentioned earlier states that for 33% of the labor market, a good work-life balance is the most important thing during the search for a new job. Good to keep in mind when looking to expand your team!

Werken vanaf de keukentafel - werk-priv├ębalans

How to get your work-life balance back on track: 5 tips

The ideal work-life balance is different for all of us. That is why it is so important to test and see what works for you and what doesn't.


1. Define your boundaries

Communicate to suppliers, customers and partners your way of working. Mention your opening hours on your e-commerce website, in your e-mail signatures and if someone unexpectedly calls your business number? Then of course you can tell them that, ideally next time they should call before 5:00 p.m., for example.

Additionally, it's also important that you stick to it. As an entrepreneur you are often encouraged to work a lot, because: not working means no turnover.

Therefore, train yourself to stick to your limits, because your mental & physical health is far too important to let down.


2. Schedule time for personal matters

And we're not just talking about your bi-annual dental appointment. No, schedule time to do something with friends or family, for example. Plan a dinner with friends, a game night or invite some friends over when your favourite football team is playing.

But even when you're not meeting up with others, schedule a walk on Tuesday mornings at 10:00 a.m. in your calendar, for example. That way you keep that time free and are reminded to get some fresh air and clear your head.

You make this as big or small as you want! Again, it all depends on what you need.


3. Create a designated space for work

If you want a healthier work-life balance, then working from the couch or the kitchen table is not the way to go. To make that separation a little bigger, it's best to keep all your work stuff in a separate room or desk.

And if you don't have that space, try to stick to keeping your work things in one place. For example, at the dining room table, in that one free spot where no one ever sits.

That way, your workspace is really your workspace, and you'll have less incentive to pick up your laptop when you're sitting on the couch.

Or even better: Work somewhere else! Many freelancers and small business owners join a flex office. There you can get behind a desk, network and relax - just like at the office. But without having to rent an expensive office space.

Think for example of the CIC Rotterdam, 42Workspace or UtrechtInc.

That way, coming home really is coming home.

4. Use technology to your advantage

With ChatGPT booming and new tech gadgets being thrown into the world daily, it's important to use these things to your advantage. Make technology work for you! For example:

  • An automatic response to your emails & WhatsApp Business
  • Set telephone business hours combined with business voicemail on your business number. You won't be disturbed & your callers will be neatly informed of your business hours.
  • Don't call & email your business contacts through your private 06 or Gmail account, create separate business accounts.

In addition, make sure you don't abuse that technology: checking emails, chatting and calling at night has never been easier now that everything is done on your mobile. This too is a matter of training yourself.

5. Stick to a routine

People thrive on routine.

Experiment with routines and work hours as they fit you. And then stick to them. For some, that may still be 9 to 5. But that could also be 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and then again from 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m..

Or maybe you don't work 8 hours, but get the same thing done in 6 hours once you figure out what your most productive way of working is.

And along the lines of routine: for some, it's very clear that they can work most focused in the morning. Use that as your strongest point. For example, as follows:

  • Use your mornings not to respond to emails or call clients, but work on assignments that just require a little more focus from you. Like writing articles, your administration or client assignments.
  • In the afternoon, schedule meetings, call clients and work through emails from the previous day. If necessary, you then go to appointments as well.

This way you get the most out of yourself and don't lose productivity, creativity and focus.

6. Bonus: Take a break every now and then

When I look at some freelancers and entrepreneurs, the biggest advantage is often also the biggest disadvantage. You set your own schedule and you can take time off whenever you want.

But do you actually do that?

Therefore, an important tip - take days off too. You work hard, so you deserve it! The ideal way to reset yourself and focus completely on private life.


Arrange your work-life balance to your liking

Now is the time to apply these tips & tricks! You know how incredibly important a good work-life balance is, so it's time to set it up the way you want it.

What is your first step?

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