Prioritizing work and life: Determining your work-life balance preferences

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Not everyone has the same priorities – and this can have a significant impact on your work-life preferences. This article explores some factors that are important to consider when determining how to best prioritize your work-life arrangements.

Key influencers of work-life balance preferences

Your ambitions of what you want to achieve

Ambitions are likely to play a significant role in how you prioritize any tradeoffs between work and life. Not everyone’s ambitions are the same – for some, establishing a modest company (potentially alone as a solo entrepreneur) may be the objective. For others, ambitions may be much grander – with a view that the company will transform a particular industry.

Neither one of these approaches is better than the other – rather you just have a different set of preferences, that will naturally influence how you prioritize work and life decisions. 

Your stage in life

The stage of your life may influence how you prioritize work and life. Being young, with few commitments, may make you more inclined to prioritize work. Not only may you have fewer external responsibilities than you are likely to have as you become older, but any successes that you achieve within your business will be recouped across the rest of your life. Indeed, you enjoy putting in significant time, in the knowledge that all the effort and skills that you are learning are likely to pay off over the decades to come. 

The stage of your business

It is one thing if you are in the first few years of launching your business, and putting in super long hours – it is a completely different thing if you are twenty years in and still putting in those long hours. 

One part of determining your work-life preferences is evaluating the stage that your business is in. You may decide that it is worth the additional time early on to help get the business off the ground, even if you envision re-prioritizing at some point down the road. This is of course easier said than done – the pressures of business may still apply going forward – but later in the business’s lifecycle you may have a greater ability to delegate other roles to others within the organization than you have early on. 

Others in your life

Another factor that can influence your work-life balance is the preferences of relatives and significant others within your life. Running a business can take an emotional toll not only on you, but also on others that you are closely connected with, and at some point, you may need to adjust your lifestyle to ensure that you maintain your other relationships. 

Breaking the tradeoff and achieving the balance beyond just time

Regardless of how you prioritize work and life choices, it is also important to recognize that work and life need not necessarily be in conflict with one another – there are ways of potentially recognizing the differences and achieving more on both dimensions.

Adjusting your role to scrap low value-add components

Beyond simply cutting back on work (or your life), one way of improving both elements to consider whether there are ways of adjusting your role to reduce low-value add parts of your work. As an entrepreneur, you have much greater control over the bounds of your work than most employees – ultimately you decide what you do and what you don’t do.

If you systematically look at the activities that you perform, there are likely some that are so low-value add that they can be scrapped. Others you may still need to perform, but potentially not as much as you currently do. Finally some you may be able to delegate to others.

Remember, being a successful entrepreneur requires you to work effectively, not just hard.

Better incorporating work and life together

While there is certainly an argument to be made for keeping work and life very separate from one another, others benefit from integrating the two together.

For example, you may find that you can respond to emails during periods of downtime, or manage parts of your business when traveling for holidays. Indeed, you may find that there are opportunities to increase your lifestyle without sacrificing on work – taking more holidays for example, while recognizing that you will need to work for several hours each day to deal with pressing issues.

Final thoughts: A work-life balance is a personal preference - there are no one right or wrong choices

When you are considering how to prioritize your work and personal life, it is important to recognize that there is no one right answer. Different individuals will prioritize in different ways, based on their own desires and preferences. The key thing is developing a routine that works for you.