By Chris Hayden.
As an accountant and practice owner, you help clients create more balance in their lives. But are you doing the same for yourself?
During peak season, it is not uncommon for the average accountant to work 55-58 hours per week, with partners working 85 or even more hours per week. If you fall into this category, it might be time to reevaluate what it means to create more balance in your life.
So how do you improve your work-life balance? Here are seven tips. 7 Ways to Create Balance in Your Life as an Accountant and Business Owner
1. Define what balance means to you
What does a balanced life look like to you? If you could design the ideal life for yourself, what would it look like?
So many business owners are stuck in this cycle of always wanting more – more money, more growth, more opportunity. But is this really what you want to? Maybe the answer is yes, and maybe the answer is no. To create balance, you need to figure out how much you really need to be happy and how you want to spend your time. Ask yourself:
- How do you want to spend your time?
- How much money do you want to earn?
- How many hours do you really want to work?
- What do you want to focus your time on?
Answering these questions will help you figure out where you want to be and what will make you happy. From there, you can create a plan to help you achieve your ideals.
2. Identify the “obstacles” to your balance
What is holding you back from creating more balance in your life? These “barriers” to balance are often self-limiting beliefs – reasons why we believe we cannot pursue our work-life balance goals.
What are your obstacles to balance?
- Are you afraid of change?
- Are you looking for growth because that’s what “you’re supposed to do”?
- Are you living your life in accordance with the expectations of others or society?
To identify obstacles to your balance, you must be honest with yourself. Once you understand what is holding you back from creating balance, you can take steps to eliminate those barriers.
3. Make balance part of your company culture
If you want to create more balance in your life, make balance a part of your company culture. When it becomes a priority for everyone in your business, it’s much easier to make it a priority for yourself. After all, it’s your job as a business owner to set an example for your staff.
A better work-life balance means a happier and more productive team. But how do you integrate balance into your culture? We do a lot of things in our company to make sure this is part of the culture, a few of which include:
- We strive to keep our team working less than 45 hours per week, 55 during tax season.
- We encourage our team to take vacations and use personal free time.
- We also ensure that our managers have time to train staff and that everyone has time to ask questions.
Find out what work-life balance means for your team and help create that environment. This can mean:
- When possible, be flexible with working hours. This is especially true when it comes to overtime. Some may be morning people, while others may be night owls.
- Don’t force them to choose between work and family. If you have a team member who wants to pick up their kids from school and reconnect afterwards, encourage them to do so.
- Encourage your staff to take breaks and vacations.
- Make sure you don’t overload your team. For example, when we see staff working over 55 hours during peak season, it means it’s time to discuss their workload and how to reduce it.
Knowing your team’s values can help you make balance an integral part of your company culture.
4. Change your point of view
Many business owners feel guilty for prioritizing their work-life balance. For many, taking a break or changing their priorities may seem selfish or even irresponsible. How many times have you felt guilty for taking advantage of downtime, thinking you should have done something more productive?
Change your perspective and start thinking differently to live a balanced life. Think of it as an investment in your health, your happiness, and the future of your business.
5. Focus on capacity planning
Capacity planning can be a very effective tool to prevent overwork. When you know how much work your business can realistically handle, you can prioritize and keep your plate from getting too full. Along with capacity planning, be sure to hire before you are at full capacity to avoid overstretching yourself and your staff.
6. Learn to say “no” and prioritize the work you love
To create balance in your life, you must learn to say “no” and focus on the work you love.
Make sure you only take on clients who are a good fit for your business and who you enjoy working with. Remember, it’s your business and you control your work. You don’t have to work with every client or take on every project.
7. Adopt a hobby
Work is an integral part of our lives, but it is not the only thing. To create more balance and joy in your life, take up a hobby. Play a sport, garden, paint, read – do something you love. For me, that means playing basketball twice a week. Engaging in hobbies can help reduce stress, improve social relationships, increase your happiness, and more.
Creating more balance in your life can help you take control of your future and your happiness. As a business owner, you have the power to create your ideal life and your ideal business. It’s just about understanding what it means to you, removing barriers, embedding balance into your company culture, and changing your perspective.
Christopher Hayden, CPA, CMA, CGMA is the Managing Partner of Hayden Nelson & Yoder, a Pennsylvania-based CPA firm. You can find out more about him and/or the firm on their website https://hnycpas.com/.