The Back Office Podcast // Episode 2:
Debunking Myths for Entrepreneurs
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Work-life balance paints a picture of a perfect equilibrium, where work and life are separate entities that should balance out.
But is it really that black and white?
As business owners, can our lives actually be neatly divided into ‘work’ and ‘life’, with a clear boundary in between?
Things are different when you’re running a business.
As much as balance is a very important thing to have in our lives, when you’re a business owner, is it even realistic to strive for this separation?
Let me get real here: I find it to be an oversimplification of things and often an unrealistic goal.
But please don’t get me wrong! Work-life balance actually solves an incredibly important problem – burn out!
And I agree that we should put all the measures in place to avoid it.
To be fair, I do feel like this recent push for real work-life balance, especially in the corporate setting, is a reaction to the toxicity of overworking and hustle culture.
I think a lot of us have been there!
Bosses demanding you to work overtime.
Calling you at home in the middle of the night asking for the report you’ve already provided days prior.
Canceling your vacation time to make up for their failure to pre-plan their manpower.
This culture has been so normalized that the idea of being able to rest and take time for yourself has become just a “bonus” and not something you actually deserve as a human being.
So I get all of it.
But, I would also say that digital nomads used the work-life balance concept to show that they accomplish things while traveling or even while working by the beach or at a cafe.
It has become such a buzzword that everyone now thinks it must apply to everybody. I just feel like it’s too extreme – especially for us who own businesses.
Let me be real again: When you decide to be your own boss and run your own business, work-life balance isn’t as achievable anymore.
I am sure you can all relate – We cannot switch off. Because when we do, money stops.
But, of course, for a time, I was also striving for complete work-life balance. When I started to feel good about earning money, I tried my hardest to wean myself off of my own business.
But I failed. Many, many times. To the point that I lost clients, lost money, and faced so many challenges.
So how should I move forward?
I think we can all agree that rest is important. And at that point, I knew that I was on the verge of a burnout. I took a little step back and took a good look at my situation: I realized that running a business is not linear.
While trying to figure things out, I’ve learned that I am the most effective in my role as the business owner, employer, and OBM support for my clients when I am rested and happy.
But I’ve also learned that having a 6-figure business doesn’t mean you can afford to have a sabbatical just because you want to.
What brought me to my first 100k is my skills and dedication.
I have come to face the reality that absolute work-life balance is not gonna work for me. I chose this path to be a business owner and I have to know what works and what doesn’t.
As owner, what I had to do was to be able to have the business run in a way that I can take rest from time to time and have space for the things that make me happy.
The key is that my life and business need to coexist harmoniously – like a coin, there are two faces but it’s the same coin!
When you’re a business owner, it’s not really about balance. It’s about integration. It’s about creating a symbiotic relationship between our work and our life.
It’s about finding systems, processes, and routines that allow us to fulfill our professional obligations while also nurturing our personal lives. Our work and personal lives are not always mutually exclusive; they affect each other, often in more ways than we realize.
Of course, I did not invent work-life integration. But it’s a concept that I came across when I was actively looking for it.
But I’m not completely there yet!
I’d say I’m about 75% on it and still working on things to make it completely integrated. I think by now, if you’ve been reading these blogs, you know that I can be extra sometimes and tend to overdo things lol.
But currently, I started creating systems and workflows that recognize and accommodate our dual roles.
Let me share three components I started with to lead me towards effective work-life integration:
- • ROUTINES – I had to figure out the activities and processes that are repetitive or simple enough that it could be automated or delegated.
- • RESOURCES – When I have identified the “routines”, I took a look at my systems and my manpower. Those that can be addressed by my team is a task for them so I had to learn to step back from that. And then I reviewed my existing software and platforms to see which could be helpful in automating some tasks.
- • REVIEW – Right now, there is constant checking if some of my choices are effective. And I don’t really stress too much about it because it will never be perfect in its early stages! But what’s important is we are always monitoring.
Don’t be afraid to consider different ideas and methods.
For example, try reworking your meeting schedules. Personally, I avoid meetings on Mondays and Fridays. I hate them! I want to come out of a weekend taking it slow and ease into weekends with no stress.
I mean, for me I hate waking up and jumping on my computer right away!
Now, YOU have to figure out what will work best for you! What’s comfortable for you? What’s the best time for you to plan for everything? Because this integration is about personalizing your work landscape – and not the work landscape dictating what you do.
As for my team, we are doubling down on automation and AI so we can all make space for more capacity without adding extra hours.
TAKE TIME TO REFLECT
Work-life integration, for the most part, is all about reflection.
It’s asking yourself: How can I make it work in a way that it serves all the hats I have to wear?
The beauty of it is that it offers flexibility and acknowledges that our needs may change day-to-day.
I’m happy with where I’m at right now as a business owner. Currently, majority of my outputs are delegated so some work days for me are optional. Even my location can be optional!
So is work-life integration really making things possible for me?
My business serves clients from almost all the continents and we have team members in Singapore, the Philippines and Dubai. We also have a jetsetter who works with contractors from different parts of the world. I consider myself lucky.
But at the same time, I have also made the decisions to shape the way my business is run. Right now, I like how our work setup allows us to accommodate personal needs or tasks even while we’re on office hours. To me, that is a good path to my work-life integration.
Again, I also do understand that work-life integration is not for everyone the same way work-life balance is not for me at this moment in time.
But for me, I really just want to avoid burnout.
Ultimately, work-life integration is about realizing that ‘balance’ is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. It’s about creating systems and processes that cater to your unique needs and circumstances, enabling work and life to coexist in a way that enhances, not detracts, from both.
I’m really proud of our work at The Homebased Worker. If you want to know more about how we do elevate operations for our many six-figure clients, follow along our journey @thehomebasedworker.
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