Having worked in a number of different settings that range from teaching, academia, to aesthetics, I have learned the vital importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. To be quite frank and honest, truly maintaining a healthy balance requires the utmost discipline- especially when the line between work and play is blurred because you just love what you do for a career!
One of the greatest challenges for an entrepreneur is moving from business operator to business owner. It is truly an art that needs time and focus. I must admit, I am still a work in progress in this department, but there are some tricks I have picked up on the way, all invaluable bits of advice from other professionals via books, seminars, podcasts, and courses.
Setting priorities and protecting personal time are my own responsibility. For example, I have made it a habit to schedule my holidays and my free time and social events in my calendar first and then plan work around it. I have learned the hard way that it is so easy to get carried away and before you know it, you end up feeling trapped with the feeling that you have no time for yourself at all.
I also find that how you start your day determines your mood and productivity. I have made it a habit to do a silent morning walk first thing in the morning, something I combine with walking the dog too. This is a special meditative walk I learned from a very special teacher, Byron Katie herself. I look at the world around me and name everything as if seeing it for the first time (to find out about this go to https://thework.com/the-morning-walk/ ). This helps me become completely present and set for the day. Another morning routine is my morning exercise. In order to stick to it, preparation is everything. I have my gym clothes ready next to my bed and my gym bag in the car. My lunch is ready in a box in the fridge and the start of the day rolls like a perfectly rehearsed script.
I also make sure to set aside time for my own development. Listening to Ted Talks and to books on Audible and Blinkist from experts in their fields whilst I work out in the gym gives me space and time to grow and learn from others.
A good night’s sleep is priceless for staying balanced and on top of things. In this direction, I use my gratitude journal in the evenings. I only takes a few minutes, but helps me settle, relax and stay positive. One way of avoiding overthinking is to write everything that needs attending to on paper (or my mobile phone). Once it is written out, you feel you have the headspace to relax. And I always remember Scarlet O’Hara in Gone with the Wind saying, “I will worry about this tomorrow”. Oh, and I make sure to ban mobile phones and tablets from my bedroom.
Of course, my companies Vie Aesthetics, VieDerma and London Hill Medical, are my babies and I want to be as hands-on as possible, although I have an extremely responsible, capable, and trustworthy team taking care of things. I invest a lot in developing and empowering my team. Vie Aesthetics evolved out of mine and Dr. Liakas’ passion for the business, so naturally, I am drawn to playing an active role in every department. I feel that having such a tranquil and uplifting workplace is like having my very own oasis, I look forward to coming into work and setting up my desk ready to work on our next project. My office team tells me off for “popping in” on my days off, I am invested in every project that I get my hands on and want to see it through straight away. This may sound cliché but if you find a role that you love, you will never work a day in your life, I truly believe in this saying.
Having said that, it is important for your mental health to find a structure that works well for you, where you can reach your fullest potential and hit targets at work while embracing life outside of work.
As a business owner, I find that weaving my work schedule around my personal schedule helps ensure I am occupied on days off and will not find my way of thinking about work. I always allow myself time in my schedule for my personal training sessions, exercise is something I use to release any stress or tension so these feelings do not follow me even when I have swapped my ‘CEO’ hat for my ‘mum’, ‘wife’ or ‘just time for me’ hat. I also find that cooking is incredibly cathartic for me. It is a great way to reflect on your day at work and even plan upcoming projects while taking time to create some delicious and rewarding meals to share with your loved ones.
I use the Eisenhower Matrix to prioritize my To-Do lists, in both my personal and professional life. The matrix works by asking yourself how important or urgent something is and actioning on it from there. While I see everything I do as important, I know that not everything is urgent- it is a matter of having patience and allowing yourself flexibility, which may mean rearranging a meeting or prioritizing one matter over another. I adopt this even when doing my personal admin tasks too! I share this tool with my staff in their personal development training because I believe that aligning systems throughout the workplace is one of the most effective ways of ensuring efficiency. This works in the same way that we have implemented the use of the cloud or a new CRM system, having the whole team on the same page means we are all communicating on the same level.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance means knowing your realistic goals and targets even if this means saying NO to some things. It also means recognizing the expertise of the people around you- they are experts in their fields for a reason. As mentioned previously, I enjoy being very hands-on and want to learn everything there is to know about everything and how we can grow using this newfound knowledge. I remind myself that networking with people I have met over my many years as a businesswoman is just as important as nurturing those relationships and learning from the expertise of others. Having an expert do something for you does not mean you are incapable of doing your job. It simply means you are efficiently saving time, trying to teach yourself may take 5 hours when an expert can teach you in 2 and you can use the remaining 3 hours ticking other things off of your list!
As a businesswoman, a mum, a wife, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and simply a human being, like many others I find myself inundated with plans, deadlines, and to-do lists; I view this as a positive. I feel grateful to have a successful business, I feel lucky to have a healthy and loving family and I feel fortunate to be alive, experiencing the highs and lows that professional life and personal life brings. A note to remember is that we all have 24 hours in the day, nobody has more and nobody has less. We allocate them according to what we feel is important. The question is not whether you have the time for something, it is what you decide to have time for.