5 tips for a better work-life balance

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5 tips for a better work-life balance

Did you know that there is such a thing as Workaholics Anonymous? Well, there is. Workaholics Anonymous was established in the US in the early 1980s and leads its followers through a 12-step recovery plan. Today there are over 100 meeting groups worldwide, nine of which are in the UK, in cities such as London, Oxford and Liverpool.

But how do you know if you are a workaholic? According to Wilmar Schaufeli, a professor of work and organisational psychology at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, a workaholic is defined as an individual that works obsessively hard in a compulsive way. Anyone can become afflicted with this disorder, but self-employed people are particularly vulnerable, because they grow so focused on their business.

Many prospective franchisees want to know how to avoid becoming a workaholic as they embark on their new venture. Here are our top five tips on how to achieve a great work-life balance:

1. Set your working hours and personal time.

When you’re running your own business, it can seem like you’ve got an endless list of tasks that need to be done. While nine-till-five workers go home at the end of the working day, you have the flexibility to carry on working for as long as you want or need to. Don’t get carried away. It is vital that you have time to unwind at the end of the day.

You may find yourself repeatedly saying, “Just five more minutes on this task”, to the point where your evening has disappeared. That’s why it’s so important to set your working hours in stone before you start. When you finish for the day, take the time to do something you love, even if it’s just sitting in your favourite chair and catching up on your favourite television programme.

Also, organise your time according to your work style. If you’re a morning person, it makes sense to get up early and finish your work in the afternoon. If you’re more of a night owl, and you’re most productive in the evening, perhaps you could have a lie-in and shift your work pattern by a few hours? It makes no sense to grapple with complex tasks in the morning when you could complete them in half the time if you started them later in the day.

2. Take regular breaks.

Although you might think you’re wasting time by walking away from your desk during the day, it can actually improve your productivity and, therefore, your profitability. You’ll inevitably become tired and restless by sitting in the same spot for hours on end – especially if you’re staring at a computer screen. Make sure you stand up, stretch, have a wander and look into the distance at least once an hour. Also, take the time to eat a healthy lunch and get fresh air during the day. When you return to your work, you’ll have new-found energy.

3. Review your previous time management.

Look back on previous work you’ve done. How long did certain tasks take you and which complications arose often? Once you have the answers to these questions, you will be better equipped to plan for the future. Schedule tasks according to your findings to make sure you’re not working long hours one day and short hours the next.

You don’t have to do this by hand. There are plenty of time-tracking software packages to help you keep track of your work and improve your time management.

4. Save time by reducing travel.

If you need to meet business partners or clients, avoid meeting at their business premises and arrange to get together at a café or restaurant that is halfway between you and them. That way, you can avoid spending time in a car or on public transport when you could be working on your business. You could even suggest holding the meeting over Skype or other technologies – so you don’t even have to leave your desk.

5. Don’t be afraid to outsource and delegate.

If you’ve launched your own business from scratch, it can be hard to hand over responsibility to someone else. But if you identify your weaker areas and ask others for help, you can save huge amounts of time in the long run. Don’t struggle on with your business’ accounts or interior design if the task could be completed much quicker by someone else.

Two types of businesses you could look into:

Van-based franchises

If you already own a van and have a passion for driving, it makes perfect sense to make a living from it. Considering a van-based franchise is a great way to start a business that is unlikely to require previous experience or specialist equipment. Here are some reasons why owning a franchise on the road could be the right choice for you:

• Lower overheads - Because you won’t need fixed premises to run your van-based franchise, your start-up and ongoing costs will be significantly lower than they would be for other franchises. Also, because it will be just you and your van – in the beginning, at least – you won’t have to spend money on expensive recruitment procedures.

• Less local marketing is required - You’ll save money on local marketing activity, as your van will do the hard work for you, promoting your business as you drive around. It's likely that you'll need to purchase or lease your own vehicle, but your van will be branded as part of the franchise package. This will make it instantly recognisable when you’re on the road and will give your business a professional touch. The money you’ll save on marketing will make owning a franchise much less stressful, making it a more enjoyable experience.

• Increased flexibility - Owning a mobile business also gives you greater flexibility. You’ll pretty much be able to work where you want, when you want and, when you’re not in the van, the job will be predominately home-based. This freedom enables you to run your business around other commitments and achieve the ultimate work-life balance.

Part-time franchises

Choosing the option to run a franchise on a part-time basis is becoming increasingly popular. If owning a franchise and dedicating full-time hours is daunting, then starting a part-time franchise may seem more attainable. Here are some advantages of running your business on a part-time basis:

• Pursue other interests - Having more free time allows you to engage in other activities during your free time. You may choose to continue with your day job, study for that qualification that you've always wanted or volunteer for a charity that you’re passionate about. Whatever you plan to do in your spare time, you’re likely to achieve a better work-life balance if you're able to follow other interests while earning a part-time income.

• Enjoy longer holidays - You could even choose a part-time business that comes in the form of a seasonal franchise. While you work hard during your franchise season, out of season you can spend your time travelling, studying or operating another part-time seasonal franchise. In fact, you could find that there’s more money to be made from running more than one part-time franchise rather than a full-time business, depending on the industry and how many hours you work.

• Save money on childcare - Part-time hours also mean that you can work your business around your children's school hours. This way, you’ll save a significant amount of money on childcare. Research by the Money Advice Service found that the average childcare costs of 25 hours a week for a child under two is £116.25 (£148.16 in London). While parents are often entitled to some government support for childcare expenses, the majority of the costs need to be covered by parents. You can avoid these if you can be at home with your children.

• Benefit from less stress - There’s no getting away from the fact that running your own business can be stressful. There are many studies that prove that long working hours can take their toll on your mental and physical health. The huge advantage of working part-time is that you don't have to commit to working late nights and weekends to make your business a success. Less stress in your working life will not only have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing but on the happiness of your loved ones too.

By thinking outside the box and choosing an affordable franchise on a part-time basis – or one that only relies on you and your van – you can achieve a much healthier work-life balance. Not only do you get to make your business ownership dreams come true, but you also get to spend more quality time with your family and friends.

Although these franchises can be just as lucrative as more traditional ones, you may have to take a hit on your profit potential. However, the advantages of a flexible lifestyle, lower operating costs, less risk and a higher standard of living should outweigh the slight reduction in the amount of money you make.

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