Over the years, the smartphone has become an essential tool for both our business and personal lives. As a business owner, being online and in touch is key to your success. Smartphones allow us to communicate with each other wherever we are and get business done everywhere. They have numerous apps that help us tackle tasks both inside and outside of the workplace. Smartphones keep you connected with potential clients, help you stay up to date on cutting-edge trends in your industry, and allow you to stay competitive. While the constant connectivity afforded by smartphones makes work flexible, convenient, and even profitable, this same ubiquitous nature of these devices is actually posing a threat to our work-life balance.
With countless emails to be read, phone calls galore and recurring business meetings, maintaining a good work-life balance has become a struggle for many of us. In fact, the majority of business owners say that work-life balance is the biggest challenge they face, according to research from NodeSource. Even more, research from the Alternative Board states that 30% of small business owners report working more than 50 hours per week, nearly 20% report working 60 hours or more and almost 80% report feeling like they work too much. Much of this is due to an unspoken entrepreneurial culture that glamorizes long hours and minimal personal time.
The Benefits of a Good Work-Life Balance
Having a good work-life balance is vital for every business owner and contributes to business success. Business owners need dedicated time to focus on things not work-related in order to recharge and re-energize. There are both personal and business advantages of a good work-life balance. From a personal standpoint, work-life balance improves mental health and well-being, increases engagement and motivation, and creates a more positive outlook and mindset. On the business side, work-life balance helps to increase productivity and competitiveness, improves customer service, helps businesses react to changing market conditions more effectively, and boosts staff morale. Additionally, having a good work-life balance helps to stimulate creativity and innovation.
When you lose work-life balance, everyone suffers the consequences. There’s a large pile of evidence that indicates that working more doesn’t necessarily mean getting more work done. One startup founder actually attributes the failure of his first startup to working too much. Chronic stress is the most common health issue among business owners and it can quickly take a toll on both your business and well-being. A slew of recent studies has linked working too much with sleep disorders, heavy drinking, diabetes, memory loss, and heart disease.
Your productivity and effectiveness are tied to the speed of your thinking, and without a good work-life balance, your thinking slows down considerably. It’s much harder to think creatively and work efficiently when you’re fighting fatigue. You’re more likely to feel depressed and stressed and can have difficulty communicating and getting things done. Your sales presence in front of potential clients and customers deteriorates. If your life is out of balance, you won’t be able to excel in any area.
How Smartphones are Blurring the Lines Between Work and Play
From emails from coworkers to calls from clients and customers, it can be hard to truly disconnect and shut down after the working day is over in today’s super-connected world. The rise of smartphones has led to a new phenomenon in which the lines between work and home are increasingly being blurred. The ability to fit your workday into your pocket with your smartphone and the unrelenting rise of “always-on” culture is making it increasingly harder to unplug after the workday has ended. One study found that 26% of work is done outside of normal working hours. This means that while the workday may be over, business matters can easily intrude on personal time and cause business owners to fall into the trap of undefined boundaries.
Many business owners opt to use their personal phones for business use to keep things simple. While this may seem like the most affordable and convenient option, it can also invite inefficiency and conflict into your life, ultimately disrupting your work-life balance. Many of us check and respond to emails on our cell phones simply out of habit or ease of accessibility. In fact, 91% of people use their personal time to check their smartphones and the average person checks email every six minutes. In this way, smartphones expose us to an unprecedented amount of information and requests that you feel compelled to read or respond to. When you use your personal smartphone for business, the temptation to overwork is always there. It can even keep you up at night, distract you from making objective analysis, and prevent you from enjoying free time with friends and family.
Being too accessible to your clients and customers can wreak havoc on your personal life. It’s perfectly fine to be able to answer calls and emails promptly during business hours, but your customers and clients shouldn’t be able to reach you whenever they want. By responding to clients and customers after normal business hours, you may give your clients the impression that you’re always available and cause them to send you messages at all times of the day and expect immediate responses. Most calls and emails aren’t necessarily urgent or important and by answering them after hours, you may be robbing yourself of much-deserved downtime and putting yourself into communication overload. Amazon India head Amit Agarwal even claims that “No business decision should be made between 6 pm and 8 am.” Having no clear distinction between work and personal life can leave you feeling exhausted and burnt out.
Business Cell Phones: The Solution to Maintaining a Good Work-Life Balance
If you’re finding that business hours are often trickling into your personal hours, having a separate business cell phone may be the solution to ensuring greater work-life balance. When you have a separate smartphone for business, you can more easily set boundaries and make a clearer divide between work and play. You can fully dedicate one device to responding to requests from clients and customers. Having two separate phones can help you choose when you want to be reachable as you can more easily ignore calls and emails depending on the time of day or the situation. Unplugging after the workday is as simple as switching your business phone off, allowing you to resist the temptation to overwork, fully immerse yourself in your downtime, and recharge for the day ahead. You can also utilize settings like Automatic Do Not Disturb at designated times of the day to pause notifications and help minimize distractions from your business cell phone. Having a dedicated business mobile plan and cell phone doesn’t have to be expensive either – there are providers with plans that start as low as $20/month. By implementing this kind of structured disengagement that comes from a separate business phone, you can gain a sense of control over your personal time and be more engaged and productive once you start working again.
Thanks to technology, we’re more connected to work than ever before. Business owners work hard, but you are entitled to a good work-life balance. While larger companies have work-life balance programs embedded into their organizations, it’s up to business owners to create their own systems for work-life balance. Creating a clear separation between your work and personal life can not only be a great way to stay sane but also be a good business strategy. The constant connectivity that smartphones offer may encroach on your work-life balance, but having a separate business cell phone is one great way to protect and preserve it.
If you want to have an amazing work-life balance, you have to be intentional about it. The more you’re able to set proper work-life boundaries, the more you’ll be able to be happy and healthy and get things done. A good work-life balance looks different for everyone and you get to decide what’s realistic and works for you. Regardless, every business owner needs it to run a successful and lucrative business. You won’t be a better business owner, a better negotiator or a better anything by being at the beck and call of your smartphone. Don’t let it stand in between you and your work-life balance.