We don’t realize how much our work life balance has been disrupted by computers, software and the internet. But the truth is that because of these conveniences, it is tempting to think that we can do everything in our businesses ourselves. And even though this can be true, it can also be unwise. Because we come into business with an idea for that business, that should generally be the focus in order to succeed.
A new survey of over 2,000 adults by the enterprise cloud solution provider Workfront shows how much our work life balance has been interfered with by technology. While it is tempting to be always on for clients and even workers, this mindset can be extremely harmful.
- 57% of hires feel like technology has ruined the idea of the family dinner
- 60% attribute a bad work life balance to their boss – don’t be that boss!
- 38% have missed important life events due to poor work life balance
- 33% feel like they actually have a good work life balance
- 89% feel it is important to be disconnected from work during off hours
If we get too in the weeds on things that we can also do, it often dilutes our focus and our results. That is why it is important to identify the things that are worth outsourcing. And by outsourcing the right tasks, it not only frees you up to run your business, but allows you to improve your work life balance.
With companies like Wix, Squarespace and simplified themes in WordPress, it is tempting to think that you can become a web designer in no time. This is a trap, however. The software that allows you to do things easily is usually confining in design and function, not to mention the need to align your theme with your domain name.
However, web design goes far beyond selecting a theme and setting up a banner and a few graphics. You have to take into consideration your metadata, keywording, SEO, and many more details. These not only apply to your overall site, but to each individual page as well.
This does not include optimizing landing pages, setting up smooth navigation, and making sure that your site is mobile compliant. This requires setting up a responsive site, or better yet one that is compliant with the Google AMP initiative.
If you want to advance the design and function of your site, it becomes even more complicated. More complicated means learning and spending valuable time learning and implementing. If you are not particularly skilled in web design, leave this to those who are. It will make your site better and give you a better work life balance.
Branding is critical in business, and marketing graphics are an important component of branding. It is key that the graphics you use express the essence of your message in easily identifiable images.
This is not only difficult to do, but is also challenging to conceive. Creating a logo that actually speaks your brand without being overly complicated is truly an art. Many businesses fail at it or don’t have a logo at all. Others use their logos poorly or put them in the wrong places on marketing materials because they don’t know any better – they are not handled by experts and so their potential is not maximized.
The use of the correct fonts and colors is also vital to your branding. You need to know what works well where, and what mood and emotions colors evoke in your customers. Simply putting something together that kind of works for you is not enough.
The other issue is copyright, and the usage rights to photos. Not all images are royalty free, and many that are still require that you give credit to the photographer or artist. Using the wrong images or ones without the correct permissions can cost you and your company dearly, especially if you have used them extensively in marketing or as an integral part of your web design.
Because of these factors, it is vital that you work with professionals in this area, communicating clearly your ideas, but allowing them to create the graphics and perform design tasks for you.
Any attempt to do all of these things yourself can result in a poor work life balance because you get caught up putting out fires that should not have ever been lit in the first place.
Many people think of themselves as able to write, but even if they can they come up against a blind spot when it comes to their own materials. Writing is a unique skill, and copywriting even more so. Few are really excellent at it.
Not only that, but if you create all of your own copy, your website starts to sound a bit self-centered or even narcissistic. You need to have multiple voices on your site, ones that are professional and give the web visitor confidence in you and what you do. Hiring a professional to create this content for you, or at least guide you in the process can prevent these issues.
On top of those things, writing takes time, valuable time that you could be spending doing something else entirely. If your primary skill is not writing, you could be making more money than you would spend on hiring a writer by focusing your efforts elsewhere. When you are tired or really should be spending time with your kids is not the time to be writing copy for your website.
If you are going to achieve a good work life balance, you are going to have to put some tasks in the capable hands of others, and writing copy for your website is a no-brainer. So outsource this to someone who does it for a living and loves it, disconnect, and spend some time with your children and spouse.
Software like Quickbooks, Microsoft Office and Google Sheets have made keeping track of business easier. These products are increasingly intuitive and easy to use. They are no substitute for an accountant, however. Accounting isn’t merely inputting numbers. It is understanding the laws and implications of the numbers and can have significant impact on your tax burdens as well as your legal standing.
The knowledge base you need to actually handle your accounts correctly is vast, and this is not a place to cut corners. These laws are also constantly changing and evolving. Just keeping up with what is new is beyond the capacity of most small business owners, let alone tracking every expense and every possible deduction.
This numbers work is best entrusted to an accountant who can help you maximize your financial impact. This is an essential element of business success. It is also an essential element of work life balance. You don’t need to be doing your books at night at the kitchen table when you should be at their school program or when they’re playing a game – you need to get right in there with them, balancing balls and not checkbooks.
Social media has become so common that nearly everyone uses it. That is very different than everyone being an expert in using it to build a brand and improve business, however. If you use social media to brag about your Thanksgiving dinner, you don’t need expert help. But if you want to reach many people – and the right people – and engage potential customers, you want to leverage its full potential.
To tap into the full power of social media requires an understanding of supporting tools, analytics and devices. All of this can be learned, but this will again cut into your work life balance. To be truly effective means you not only need to spend the time to learn how, but you need to interact and work with social media every single day.
Professionals can set up automation tools and handle much of the work associated with your social media accounts for you. If you are going to enjoy a healthy work life balance, this is the place to enlist the help of pros.
Tedious Everyday Tasks
It is well understood that time is money. And it’s true you might be able to save a few dollars by doing some tedious tasks yourself, but again, at what cost? Perhaps you are not sacrificing the quality of a pro, but you are still using your valuable time.
Have the courage to hire professional workers, even if it’s just an office assistant or a personal assistant. You can hire someone part time at first, as little as a few hours a week. At least you will save that much precious time for yourself.
These tedious tasks eat up time that you could use to be productive, creative, or just relax. If you are going to have a good work life balance, you need someone to take these off your plate.
Scheduling and Administration
Because work can be overwhelming, it is easy to make simple mistakes if you are trying to do the big things and the little things at the same time. Allow someone whose mind isn’t consumed with the broad strokes of creating your business to do the detailed work like scheduling and administration.
It can be disastrous if you schedule a meeting but fail to document it or forget the time you set and miss it. The stress of business is real and only increases if the day to day operations don’t go well due to cutting corners when it comes to administration, scheduling, and keeping your appointment calendar balanced.
Ultimately, technology is so powerful that it can replace much of the work that is necessary to run a business today. However, the technology that can seduce us into thinking we can do everything can also insidiously usurp our free time, our quality of life and the time we need to grow our companies.
If we are going to have a good work life balance, we need to outsource a number of tasks, keeping them from interfering with the time we should be away from and disconnected from work.
Sarah Saker is a business coach and freelance writer specializing in helping SMBs set up processes for customer support and predictable growth. When not writing or coaching, Sarah can be found on her (small but growing!) family farm. Connect with Sarah on about.me/ssaker for coaching or writing help.