The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question “How do you create balance in your professional life?” is by Rod Drury, CEO of Xero.
Striving for work-life balance is an effort that automatically sets you up for failure.
For entrepreneurs, it’s near impossible to ever achieve perfect balance. At various times, each element will require a different level of attention. There is always something to do, and unexpected occurrences play havoc with schedules. But having fluidity and flexibility will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed and are the keys to living a fulfilling life.
We should be striving to hit work-life integration—not work-life balance. Work-life integration is the idea that perfect balance is where work and life are one—and in a good way. When you successfully integrate work and life, and actually enjoy what you do, your whole life improves.
Successful entrepreneurs don’t work around the clock, either. The ones who are doing well value their personal time and see stepping away from work as an essential component to their success.
Xero surveyed 2,000 entrepreneurs across the U.S. and the UK, and nearly six in 10 (58%) of them said spending time with family in the evenings is crucial to their effectiveness as business owners, and more than half (55%) agreed that it’s important to keep their weekends free for loved ones. That’s a far cry from the image of a sleep-deprived business owner guzzling coffee at all hours to keep his or her company afloat.
I always avoid weekend work events. If I’m already traveling during the week, I don’t think it’s fair to the family to travel to events over the weekends, too, so I’ve learned to say no. I also try (often unsuccessfully) to avoid travel during school holidays. Booking those out in your calendar early will help you prevent meetings from falling during those weeks.
A lot of people tend to work long hours, but they’re not always fully engaged. When you’re on, be on and when you’re off, be off. Gone are the days of working 9 to 5. With most companies now able to work in the cloud, it’s easier than ever to work from home—and that’s often a good thing. When I’m at home during the week, it’s easier for me to power through huge amounts of work since I’m not interrupted with meetings or unexpected discussions.
The most successful small business owners don’t pretend to have all of the answers. Instead, they establish a strong network of family, advisors, and mentors. Hiring talented professionals to handle the areas where you aren’t as strong enables you to run a better business and empowers you to take a step back when you need the time out. And you do need to trust your people. I’m constantly telling my team that things are their call and to make decisions I don’t need to see.
A strong network, combined with a positive attitude and the right technology solutions, will allow you to get more value from your time and establish a life where the personal and professional aspects are seamlessly integrated.