Being a small business owner is difficult. It’s not 9-5pm, 5 days a week. It’s not one hat, but many.
You have to be able to plan, communicate, execute, sell, manage people… just to name a few of the hats any small business owner must wear (and wear well).
It’s no wonder that 20% of small businesses fail in the first year, 30% in the second year, and 50% after five years in business. It’s also no wonder that many entrepreneurs are struggling with their work-life balance.
But what is a work-life balance and how can AI help alleviate this growing issue amongst business owners?
How do you define your ideal work-life balance?
Work-life balance has been described as, “the equilibrium between an individual’s priorities at work and their priorities in other aspects of life.”
Work-life balance is hard to define. The main reason is that it won’t be the same for you, as it is for me, or your staff: their friends; their family.
So what do you do? How do we make sense of something difficult to describe, but everyone knows is important? We break it down into two words:
Achievement + Enjoyment
As humans, we need both achievement and enjoyment in order to live a truly balanced life. Doing, achieving, accomplishing… that feeling when you’ve completed something worthwhile (but not necessarily enjoyable).
Smiling, laughing, quality time… that feeling that everything in the world is just right, for one moment in time. Enjoyment, not always found at work…
Otherwise said, it’s a balance between both achievement and enjoyment across work, family, friends and yourself.
Ways to prioritize and organize your life
Before you can work on your work-life balance, you need to sit down and prioritize what’s important to you; really important to you, and work backwards from there.
From a business perspective, is it?
– Driving business revenue
– Achieving a sustainable income
– Reducing staff turnover
From a social perspective, is it?
– Being a good parent
– Being a supportive partner
– Being a reliable friend
Of course, the list doesn’t end there; it could go on in an endless supply of different priorities. We can, however, make the assumption that you prioritize more than one aspect of your work-life.
And this is where it gets difficult. You only have so much time, energy and attention to give in any 24-hour hour period.
By prioritizing, you also have to choose what you’re not going to do; what you care about a little less.
Creating a hierarchy of priorities is important. Otherwise, you’ll eventually get caught not doing the important things, or worse, doing important things badly.
In a business sense, this could be very costly.
Now that we’ve got our priorities straight, we need to create a plan of action: a time plan that makes priorities time-bound.
Based on your priorities, schedule your days both at work and at home appropriately. Many people are good at organizing their days at work, but not at home.
Here’s some tips to getting both right:
1) Identify how you are currently using your time
2) Evaluate whether this aligns with your list of priorities
3) Say no to things that don’t align
4) Plan and schedule ahead of time
5) Limit distractions
Despite your best intentions, you’re not always going to get it right. Which is why it’s about continuous effort, continuous improvement.
Luckily, it’s not all on you to get it right.
Here’s how AI can help you improve your work-life balance:
Perhaps you’re already using a voice assistant such as Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant. If you’re like a lot of people, you’re likely only using these tools to find information faster than typing in a query manually.
But these tools can also be used to give you reminders, schedule tasks and directions using your voice. Remind yourself to pick up the kids while scheduling in time to do your taxes, and getting directions to your next business meeting in town… all with your voice.
Make the most of your mobile device and use it to help you plan, organize and structure your day at home and at work.
Taking things further. AI can now automate a lot of your day-to-day admin tasks. Yes, reactive AI machines are already better than humans at highly logical and repetitive tasks.
AI assistants such as Aider can be trained to give you automatic updates, track relevant data and provide advice customized to you and your business.
Beyond reactive AI, Aider can also automate business tasks such as processing customer orders, scheduling tasks and paying bills and staff.
At home, this same technology could be used to automate life admin such as food shopping, scheduling social interactions, making payments and so much more.
As a small business owner AI can automate your emails, digital ads, and social media posts. But before you get carried away, revisit your list of priorities and select the tools that make the most sense for you and your business right now.
Using AI as an extension of your business (and yourself) is where we begin to discuss the Theory of Mind and Self-awareness AI. It’s the transition between how humans are currently using technology and future applications.
It’s the transition between telling AI machines what to do and trusting the technology to make decisions and perform tasks of its own accord.
Driverless cars are a good example of humans delegating decision-making of sorts to AI technology. Instead of a human driving the vehicle, the machine controls the car using a mixture of pre-programmed instructions, historical data, and reactive reasoning.
The more useful it is, the more confident you’ll be in delegating tasks knowing that Aider can handle it exceptionally well.
Being a small business owner is always going to make achieving a work-life balance difficult. It’s balancing work, family, friends and yourself.
Fortunately, with the help of AI, you can turn poor life-and-work management into actionable habits that make achieving a work-life balance possible.
Once you have your hierarchy of priorities, find the best tools to help you schedule, automate and eventually – delegate tasks to. This will maximize your effort, time and energy to the things you really care about.
It’s an ongoing process of refinement. Keep revisiting your priorities and ensure you’re in-line with how you want to be living.
And give your priorities the attention they deserve.