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How to Manage Work-Life Balance

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As a business owner, it can be difficult to take a step back from your work. Owners usually are in the mindset of living to work instead of working to live, and because of this, many are left dealing with chronic stress. According to the Ratchet+Wrench Industry Survey, the majority of respondents (37 percent) report working longer than a traditional 40-hour workweek at 50–59 hours. Sixteen percent reported working over 60. Joe Robinson, a work-life coach, trainer, and speaker, says there’s a 60 percent higher risk of heart attack and heart disease and a 33 percent higher risk of stroke for those who work over 40 hours per week.

“Hours are getting longer—the longer the hours, the more time it impinges on time out of your job,” Robinson says. “People now wind up staying later to get all of the work done.”

And because work hours are getting longer, it’s common for the line between work and life to become blurred. It’s so common that Robinson has made a career out of managing this. He travels all over the world working for companies like Lego, Kellogg, and IBM to help work on work-life balance and stress management. 

 “No one ever really gets information on how to manage their mind,” Robinson says.

To help auto repair shop owners manage their stress and find a balance between work and play, Robinson gives us some insight on the topic and provides tips along the way.

Business owners are some of the worst afflicted with long hours, thinking there is no one else that can do the job; they don’t rely on enough people to do the job. They need sensible schedules and strategies to detach themselves from work. We actually create our own stress, it’s not created by an external event or a customer; it’s what we tell ourselves in our head. There’s a science called work recovery; when you get home from tensions and pressures of the day, you need to have relaxation strategies to manage and push the stress away. The point I always like to get across is a little stress, no big deal; if it’s day after day, there’s a problem.

Owners need sensible schedules and strategies to detach themselves from work. Start off the day by sitting down and prioritizing the most important things. It’s important to come up with a to-do list in your head or write it down on paper or on your computer. Don’t rush to get to the next project; focus your full attention on what you are doing at that moment. We are always rushing to get to the next task and are not really focusing 100 percent on what you are trying to accomplish in a current task. It’s also important to delegate a lot of the tasks so it’s not all on your shoulders.

It’s also important to have a schedule that allows business owners time to recover. Eight-hour days are the maximum; when you go past that, that’s when the problems start. Don’t bring work home with you—leave it at the office.

It can be hard to leave everything at the office, but if you have good people, it shouldn’t be an issue. Hire good workers that you can trust to do as much of the work as possible so you don’t end up having to do it. Delegating the work is key. And having a system of checking in on a regular basis—something that allows one-on-one facetime with your employees—will help you gain this trust with employees. 

Some simple relaxation strategies help with managing stress. This can include listening to music, going for a run, a walk, or even hitting the gym. Mastery strategies are known to be the most effective. When you find yourself overly stressed, tell yourself three positives to every negative. It’s all about finding the time and making it happen.

Another technique is counting backward from 100 to one, or focus on your breath. These exercises force you to pay attention in the moment and bring your mind back to the present. Science shows these two techniques are the most helpful. The more attention you have, the less stress you will have.

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