Are you feeling stressed?
Do your work problems follow you home, taking up your mental energy?
Are you neglecting yourself for the sake of everyone/everything else around you (your patients, business, kids, spouse)?
Managing work/life balance is hard for many people, but it’s even harder as a business owner. Especially as a nurse (i.e. a professional caregiver!). For me, finding and maintaining work/life balance has been one of my biggest struggles as a Nurse Owner.
As a nurse, you do a great job of taking care of other people. But when it comes to yourself, well, you know the saying….nurses are the worst patients. You know what you should be doing, but you are likely neglecting taking care of yourself in the name of taking care of others.
You’re a business owner, so you already know that you’re a highly capable person. You can do it all–from providing patient care to running the back office. You’re no stranger to hard work and, let’s admit it, you probably like to be in control. And multitasking is second nature. No judgement here! I totally get it! I’m the same way. And during the first few years of your business, many of these qualities were strong assets to posses. But… if you want to grow your business, many of those qualities and mindsets can quickly become a liability.
If you’re not careful, it will suck the joy out of your work and rob you of time for yourself and your family.
I know because it happened to me.
It started innocently at first. I grew my practice on the pillar of customer experience. That translated to me priding myself on being quick to respond to my patients and clients. Sure, I had office hours for seeing patients, but I didn’t set clear parameters for other forms of communication. I conditioned my patients to expect immediate responses and 24/7 access, even for non-emergent situations. My patients and clients were happy, but I was drowning. And it’s really difficult to admit this, but my family suffered because I just “didn’t have enough time.”
Two years into business, I was 7 months pregnant with my second child, and the practice had grown way beyond my ability to handle it all myself. I was working 14-hour days and on-call 24/7.
Sure, there were other people who could do the work, but I didn’t delegate. I told myself things like “it will only take me a minute,” or “no one else can do it as well as me.”
Now that I look back on it, I think I was trying to live up to the ‘superwoman’ ideal–super nurse, super entrepreneur, super wife, super mother.
I thought I was succeeding.
In reality, I was running myself into the ground.
I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Heck, half of the time, I’d forget that I was pregnant and forget to do very important things …. like, ya know, eat!
I was taking care of everyone else and neglecting the most important person of all–me!
Unfortunately, it took me getting sick for me to finally wake up. It was only a sinus infection, but I felt HORRIBLE.
I knew I’d gotten sick because I wasn’t taking care of myself. To be honest, when I think about that time, I still feel a bit of shame around it.
When I realized I wasn’t fully showing up for my family, I knew I had to make some changes.
I made a conscious decision to structure my business around my life.
I am very proud to say that by November, I was working 2 hours a day. And the best part was that my business was more efficient than ever! Even though working LESS, the business became MORE profitable!
And most importantly, I became a full time mom and wife–while still owning and running my business. I had my life back and it was glorious.
If you relate to ANY part of my story – feeling like you’re overwhelmed, pangs of guilt that you’re not giving enough time to your family, handling EVERY aspect of your business and not delegating, or feeling like your body is on the edge of running down – then I am so happy that you are reading this!
Here is exactly how I was successfully able to go from working 14 hours a day, to TWO hours a day (and actually make more money while doing it!).
Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Assess your mindset
As the saying goes, the pain of staying the same has to be greater than the pain of changing. You really have to want to get out from under the day-to-day. It requires getting out of your comfort zone, learning new things, and unlearning old habits.
Step 2: Analyze workflow
Spend a few days writing down everything you do. Literally everything, without exception. It’s helpful to set a timer on your phone to go off every 30 or 60 minutes to remind you to write down the tasks that you’ve been doing.
Then, separate the tasks into 2 categories:
Low value – tasks that can be done by someone else
High value – tasks that could only be done by me(This “high value” list was MUCH smaller than I thought it would be.)
To help you out, here is a great self-assessment tool to help you identify ‘low value’ tasks that may be better delegated or outsourced.
Step 3: Create processes and checklists.
For tasks that can be done by someone else, create processes and checklists so that someone (other than you) can accomplish these tasks by following clear, step-by-step instructions. I used Process Street for this, which makes checklist creation a breeze.
Step 4: Hire, Train and Delegate
Once you have your processes and checklists in place, hire and train good people, then DELEGATE these responsibilities to take them off your hands.
At my practice, I hired additional providers to see patients and/or take call. I also hired an office manager to handle patient communication and other administrative tasks.
Keep in mind. This step isn’t limited to just the office. It also applies to your home activities! At home, I hired a maid to clean and a household manager to help with other tasks around the house like laundry, yard work, and meal prep.
Instead of going to the grocery store, I signed up for Instacart and started having my groceries delivered to my door. I also began using Task Rabbit for odd jobs, like emptying out my storage unit or picking up my mail.
The minor costs of these paid in dividends because I had the time and energy to focus on the aspects of my business that I could leverage and take to the next level. Well worth it!
Step 5: Set boundaries and expectations
Though I technically already had established office hours (8am-5pm M-F), in practice, I was working and corresponding with patients well outside of these hours.
Finally, I educated clients that any messages received outside of normal office hours would be returned the next business day. Anyone who called or messaged me or my staff after 5pm would receive an automated message that detailed when they could expect a return call and directing them to 911 in the event of an emergency.
Then, at 5pm every day, I turned notifications for my messaging system OFF.
I’d be lying if I said that I never think about work after 5pm, BUT, by eliminating the constant notifications, I was able to drastically reduce work intruding on time with my family. I felt like a load had been lifted off of my shoulders!
Step 6: Schedule everything
What is in your calendar becomes a priority. Which means, in addition to scheduling business things, you also need to schedule personal things. Like, date nights with your spouse, workouts, family time, friend time and even a long bath for some ME time! If it’s not in the calendar, it doesn’t happen.
If you don’t put personal/self-care tasks on your calendar, you will continue to make the mistake of putting everyone else as a priority. You will be reactive…not proactive.
Every week, schedule your much needed personal time, THEN schedule any work calls or meetings around those times.
By following these steps, I was able to largely remove myself from my practice. Now, I only do work that I want to do, or work that can only be done by me.
The result? I’m no longer stressed out and frazzled. I have plenty of free time for the things that matter the most–taking care of myself and spending quality time with family.
Interested in learning what other tools you can use to save time and improve your work-life balance? Grab one of my most popular FREE guides, of “Time-Saving Tech Tools for Nurse Owners.” Discover free and inexpensive resources to make your day-to-day life easier!