5 ways to strike a work-life balance while working at a startup

17th Nov 2015
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Working at a startup is fun, to say the least. You can go to work wearing your favorite superhero T-shirt, play foosball while waiting for the client’s call and have the quirkiest workspace ever. No one will bat an eyelid or take you to task for not toeing the ‘professional’ line.

The same startup environment can also get quite demanding.

You might have to work late hours (with or without your team), take work home or finish assignments within the deadlines given.

work-life-balance

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The pressure builds on, as the company gears up for growth.

While you may get an adrenaline rush from all this and fervently pursue that dream job at the startup, slowly and surely, you tend to miss out a lot on your personal front. In case you are still clueless, I am talking about situations where your professional life takes precedence over your personal life and sustaining a work-life balance becomes an uphill task.

Let us take a look at some of the ways to strike a work-life balance while working at a startup.

FIRST THINGS FIRST

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Time is precious and more often than not, we feel that even 24 hours is way too less to achieve what we want. This is where prioritising tasks becomes the order of the day. Therefore, you have to accept the fact that everything can’t be done at once and at some point of time, you should let go of less important things.

A high degree of planning and structure is required for this, which will allow you to pursue both your work and recreational activities without compromising on either aspect. In essence, you not only need to prioritise the work you are going to do at office, but also the things you are going to do after office hours in the order of their importance/urgency.

Take my case, I usually create a to-do list at the beginning of each month, which includes but is not limited to tasks such as –

  • Paying my long pending bills
  • Booking an appointment at the salon (grooming is very important, isn’t it?)
  • Hosting a get-together for friends (especially after you meet them after ages) or attend a family-do
  • Finishing the latest novel by my favorite author
  • Learning a new life skill

Now, I am not saying that prioritising things lets me achieve all these personal tasks at one go, with ease. But yes, it does allow me to strike off at least some of them from the list. Alternatively, I also create a list that includes both personal and professional commitments in the order of priority.

Ultimately, it is your call to decide what needs to be on the top of the priority stack and go ahead with the same.

KEEP YOUR MANAGER IN THE KNOW

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A startup is a place where you usually have to don multiple hats and handle several responsibilities even though your job role might be something totally different.

To achieve a great work-life balance, you need to have an open dialogue with your manager or team leader. You need to communicate to them exactly how you are going to manage your work and your personal life along with the approach that you intend to take for the same.

They are the ones who have a better understanding of all your roles and responsibilities and this is the reason why having a one-to-one conversation with them will help them get your perspective. Together, you can chalk out a plan to handle your workload and responsibilities without compromising on your professional commitments. This may include assigning and reassigning of roles and responsibilities by the manager or any other step, which is mutually beneficial.

MAKE SPACE FOR RECREATIONAL ACTIVITIES

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All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

The age-old proverb will most definitely ring a bell for you, if you spend all or most of your time slogging at work, with no time for recreational activities, which offer a number of benefits such as –

  • keeping stress at bay
  • providing health benefits
  • expanding your social circle
  • rejuvenating you almost instantly
  • enhancing your self-confidence
  • giving you something to look forward to everyday

With a bit of planning, you can finish your pending tasks for the day and spend your leisure time in pursuing recreational activities. It need not be something that consumes a lot of your time though. Even taking time out for something as simple as solving crosswords, reading a book before bedtime, going out for a quick walk in the morning or spending time with your pets can prove to be immensely effective in charging you up after a day of hard work.

HAVE A DESIGNATED WORKSPACE

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Many startups often outsource their work to freelancers or professionals, who work from home on a full-time or on a part-time basis. If you happen to fall under this category of professionals who have to manage their work and take care of domestic chores at the same time, then make sure that you have a designated workspace. A designated workspace will help you focus on your work, thereby helping you strike a wonderful balance between your work and your personal life.

It can be any place, any corner of your home, which helps you maximise your productivity such as: the study, the front porch or even your balcony. Confine yourself to this space till you finish off your pending tasks and then tend to your household tasks. Once you are done with your work, switch off and join family and friends and spend time in their company. This takes us to the next point.

KNOW WHEN TO DISCONNECT

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Escaping from technology sounds nearly impossible, when your entire life depends on your gadgets. Thankfully, these bits of technology come with an ‘off’ button and all you need to do is switch them off as soon as you step out of your workplace.

Easier said than done; this can be really tough for people with job roles that demand them to be online all the time. Or for those who need to be on the loop for receiving an update about a particular task.

But you still need to disconnect from work in order to effectively balance your work-life equation. The solution here is to disconnect in bits and pieces.

Why not relive the good old days, when technology wasn’t all-pervasive? Try and live in the moment with your friends and family instead of constantly checking your mobile for work updates.

Log out of your office email account the moment you reach home and put your phone on silent mode. Also, when you are on a trip with your friends and family or maybe at a family do, make it a point to not talk about work. The crux is to leave your work at your workstation and not tag it along everywhere you go!

This, of course, requires practice and when you have taken the steps for some time, it will become easier for you to switch off from work at will.

Conclusion

It is not easy to lead a perfect life where your personal and professional pursuits are in-sync with one another. Nevertheless, you can always try out different ways until you find your ‘sweet spot’ and lead a fulfilling life both at work and at home. What is your take on achieving a work-life balance while working at a startup? Do share your thoughts with us!

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