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How to keep your business from running your life.

Small business ownership can offer independence, a sense of fulfillment, financial rewards — and often, long hours.

In fact, 68 percent of small business owners are working longer days and more weekends than they were five years ago, according to a study from Sage North AmericaThird Party Link. Additionally, a BMO Harris survey1 of more than 500 small business owners found that 58 percent believe their job is stressful, 78 percent admit to checking emails on vacation and 47 percent say they’ve missed family events because of work.

When you’re trying to launch a new company — or grow one — finding the time for lunch, let alone a week-long trip, can be hard. But those long hours can take a toll: 44 percent of small business owners say work stress has damaged their healthThird Party Link, according to Bolt Insurance.

If business is booming, but your personal life isn’t, the following 5 suggestions may help you strike a better balance between work and your personal life:

  1. First determine if you’re a workaholic: Do people say your job has taken over your life? Do you exhibit signs of chronic stress-related health issues, like an upset stomach and fatigue, or behavioral issues, like mood swings and forgetfulness? You might as well face it, you’re addicted to work, says Webmd.comThird Party Link.
  1. Keep set hours: Entrepreneurs who field calls and emails at night, on weekends and during other off-hours may be inadvertently indicating to clients that they’re available to work 24 hours a day, according to USA TodayThird Party Link.
  1. Be realistic about what you can accomplish each day: Planning a too-busy workday may prevent you from dealing with issues and opportunities that arise, according to the National Federation of Independent BusinessThird Party Link. You may feel like you need to fit in a million things — but overbooking may actually cause you to waste time by overextending yourself.
  1. Prioritize your time: Don’t constantly check email and voicemail. Try setting an alarm to make sure you leave the office at a specific time and take breaks throughout the day — moves that can help you stay focused and prevent stress.
  1. Become as efficient as possible: Being organized can help you complete more work in less time, according to Monster.comThird Party Link, which suggests using PDAs and other tech devices, project management software, shared calendars and other tools to help.

Even in busy times, it’s important to try to schedule regular outside-of-work activities. Entrepreneurs can easily go from working a 40-hour-a-week schedule to working 70 or 80 hours when they launch a business. So plan for family and other personal time to help ensure you get a chance to decompress.

1 The survey referenced herein was conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights (“Pollara”), an independent research firm, at the request of BMO Harris Bank. Pollara is not affiliated with BMO Harris Bank, either by common ownership, management, control or otherwise. Results cited above are from an online survey conducted between September 8 and September 18, 2014, by Pollara. Interviews were conducted with 781 American business owners. A probability sample of this size would be accurate to ± 3.5%, 19 times out of 20. Data has been weighted by region and company size so that it is representative of all American business owners and decision makers.
BMO Harris Bank makes no representation or warranty, express or implied, in respect thereof, takes no responsibility for any errors and omissions that may be contained herein and accepts no liability whatsoever for any loss (whether direct, consequential or otherwise) arising from any use of or reliance on the information listed herein. Information may be available to BMO Harris Bank and its affiliates that is not reflected herein. This report is for informational purposes only, is not investment advice and is not to be used as a basis for any investment decision.


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