5 Tips for Founders to Maintain a Work-Life Balance Amidst the Pandemic

Written by
Zachary Pestana
Last Modified on
December 19, 2023

Losing sleep over work, having a constantly packed schedule, skipping lunch breaks, working over the weekends, and being readily available at any time of the week. If this sounds familiar to you, then you are a victim of hustle culture. Many founders across the globe, especially in the startup industry, pride themselves on thriving on this unceasing need to be working 24/7.

By holding themselves to this unsustainable standard, founders have prioritised their businesses over their mental health and work-life balance, potentially leading to intense burnout. On top of this, it can lead to serious health issues as well.

According to a study by the World Health Organisation (WHO), working 55 hours or more each week can put people at greater risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke. As COVID-19 continues to develop worldwide, there’s a growing concern that the pandemic is feeding the trend of increased working time.

To break the cycle of hustle culture and encourage a more balanced lifestyle, here are 5 easy and effective ways to build a work-life balance for founders.

5 actionable tips to help founders achieve work-life balance

1. Keep to a routine

According to Clinical Neuropsychologist Daryaneh Badaly, establishing a routine reduces the “cognitive load” to constantly make decisions for a set of activities. As the pandemic continues, it’s easy to lose your sense of time and get caught up in the uncertainty of this global crisis.

One of the few ways to keep sane during this time is to keep to a routine that works for you. Not only does this create a sense of structure in our lives but it also gives us a sense of accomplishment and keeps ourselves in check. Keeping to a routine also has plenty of mental health benefits such as better sleep and keeping stress levels at bay.

Here are a few simple ways to establish a routine:

  • Wake up at the same time each day
  • Shower in the morning (and dress up, if it helps you) as if you were heading out for work
  • Eat meals regularly and at planned times
  • Allocate a specific time for breaks in the day

2. Set mindful boundaries  

Setting mindful and healthy workplace boundaries also come hand in hand with keeping to a routine. In this digital age where we are constantly connected with work through our devices, it can be tempting or pressurizing to respond to work requests as and when you’re available.

One simple way to set boundaries is to physically and mentally clock out from work at a specific time each day to avoid burnout. Stick to your working hours and try not to exceed them. Leave any emails or pending requests you have left for the following day. Resist the urge to check open your laptop on the weekends. Most productivity tools allow you to set working hours or to adjust your notification preferences, with some of the most common being Slack, Google Workspace, Messaging apps like Whatsapp, Telegram, WeChat, and conference apps like Zoom, Microsoft Teams.

On top of setting boundaries with your work software, you can also optimise business processes to maintain your peace of mind by:

  • Scheduling automated transfers
  • Set up SOPs across departments
  • Syncing to accounting software

3. Create a designated workspace at home

While it may seem like tons of fun from the get-go, working from home can be extremely challenging and exhausting for many. Compared to working in an office, the line between your place of rest and work is now blurred and it has become increasingly difficult to set workplace boundaries.

In order to maintain and boost productivity at home, set up a designated workspace and stick to it. Whether it’s in a home office or a spot by the dining table, make it a point to only get work done in that particular area and nowhere else. You’d also want to steer clear from lounge areas that may tempt you from lazing around all day.

4. Make time for recreation and movement

Considering the number of hours we spend in a day cooped up on our desks, we could all use a little movement in our hectic lives. Finding time in the day to exercise isn’t just good for the body, but also our minds. Studies have shown that incorporating movement and exercise into your daily routine can improve both your well-being and boost productivity at the same time.

Even if it’s just a few minutes a day, make time to get your body moving each day—whether it’s before or after work or even in between your workday. From a simple yoga stretch, at-home cardio exercises, to a morning jog, the possibilities are endless.

From live stream dance classes to indoor cycling, click here to find online workout classes to get your body moving.

5. Spend time with your family and friends

Intentionally setting time aside to bond with your family and friends can be extremely helpful in achieving a work-life balance. Apart from the fact that it is an opportunity to get your mind off of your tasks for a while, it’s also a great reminder that your life shouldn’t revolve around just work.

This final step is especially important for founders with children. Even if you are running a company, you need to remember that your priority is your family. Being present in your kid’s life during their primitive years of childhood can have a positive impact on them and your family at large. You want to make a conscious effort in letting them know that you are always available outside of your working hours.

As a founder, it’s only natural to feel obligated to work every second of the day. After all, your company is part of your identity. But when all is said and done, taking care of yourself should always come first.

In line with Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s essential for founders and employees alike to take the necessary steps in ensuring there’s a line between work and play, especially in the current pandemic we’re facing. Don’t get too caught up in the rush of hustle culture. Remember that rest and balance are just as important as the hustle.

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About the author
Zachary Pestana
is a seasoned writer in market trends and business thought leadership. With a writing history at Incorp Global, MOQdigital, and AIESEC Australia, Zachary leverages his broad range of experiences to stimulate industry conversations and engage audiences.
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