We all know that work-life balance is the key to avoiding burnout – but how do we get there? These entrepreneurs in Hong Kong share their ways.
Entrepreneurs wear many hats: the visionary, the accountant, the executer, the marketer… And so, people often forget that entrepreneurs are humans, too. We’ve all got grand goals and ambitions, but in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to lose sight of the all-important “me-time”. Whether you’re a working parent, an aspiring entrepreneur, or just someone who wishes to embark on your mental health journey, here are some tips to achieving work-life balance, from those who’ve managed to maintain a thriving career while still making time for their hobbies and personal pursuits.
Switching on and off: How entrepreneurs find balance between life and work
1. Compartmentalise your time
As a busy mum, professional, and entrepreneur, I’ve learned over time the importance of compartmentalising my time to strike a balance between my personal and professional lives. By dedicating specific blocks of time to family, work, and hobbies, I create space for each important aspect of my life. This intentional scheduling allows me to be fully present and effective in whatever I’m doing.
I also enjoy bullet journalling, which I use to note down all my to-dos for the day, the week, the month, and to prioritise these tasks or goals. It helps to make all the things we have to do feel more manageable, and frees up space in our minds to actually think and create. One final tip I live by: If you can do it in five minutes or less, just do it now.
– Vicki Chuard, 37, Founder of Just Peachy
2. Spend quality time with your furry pals
I love the early hours of the morning to pursue my hobbies. Being an active and competitive ocean paddler, I spend three to four mornings a week on the ocean for Outrigger paddle club training sessions, followed by a well deserved breakfast with paddle mates at our club house in Deep Water Bay. It’s a great way to get in some high-intensity training and socialising before kicking off your day which, for me is just the perfect combo.
Since I’ve become a dog mama to Crosby, a beautiful golden retriever/Alaskan malamute, I love to spend an hour or two walking, swimming, stand-up paddling, or surf-skiing with Crosby near my home in Stanley. Time with him is always incredibly grounding, and I feel so honoured to have this special bond with this gorgeous creature. Having this affectionate, fun, sporty, and adventurous dog in my life just gives me so much happiness!
– Julia Washbourne, 49, Founder and Director of Bamboa Home & Lifestyle
3. Manage your boundaries
“Balance is not better time management but better boundary management. Balance means making choices and enjoying those choices.” — Betsy Jacobson
Do anything that floats your boat and enjoy it fully. That, for me, are piano lessons, calligraphy, and my all-time favourites: cocktail hour and karaoke. It’s not always easy to say no to the demands of my business, but these moments of respite are not mere indulgences; they serve as a lifeline, preserving my sanity.
(Now excuse me while I convince my friends to let me babysit their kids for a day – another heartwarming reminder of the joys of my life beyond work!)
– Marianne Obena, 34, Certified Professional Organiser and Founder of Home Makeover HK
4. Set your priorities straight
This is the eternal battle that entrepreneurs face: how to create work-life balance. What I try to remind myself is if I have balance and feel good, I will be a better version of myself for my company. Additionally, setting priorities is crucial. When I first launched Communicate, saying yes to opportunities, growing my business, and delivering a quality product took absolute precedence and everything else came second.
I also stick to the idea that if it’s in my diary, it’s happening! So, I put literally everything in my diary: walks, coffee catch-ups, reading, physio… If it’s not in there, I’m not doing it. Finally, one of my hobbies outside of work is golf. I absolutely love it and being outside in nature brings me so much joy, especially in Hong Kong. Golf is a sport that helps me to truly switch off, exercise, and spend quality time with family and friends.
– Melanie Staunton, 38, Founder and CEO of Communicate
5. Try out new things
To be honest, work-life balance is very tricky, as I want to do it all – be it focusing on MiliMilu, spending as much time as I can with my little ones and family, seeing my friends, doing sports, and trying to spare some minute for myself and sleep. However, I always strive to find balance and taking a break can do wonders for recharging. I love trying out new things, going on adventures, and travelling to new places. I feel there is so much to see and explore. Planning ahead and managing your schedule can also be very helpful; even scheduling a hike or break is important!
6. Envision your “perfect day” – and act on it
I believe there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to work-life balance, especially when you’re an entrepreneur. We go through “push” and “pull” seasons in our business, and also move from one season of our lives to another. So, what truly matters is our ability to make clear on what a “perfect day” would look and feel like for us, in the particular season we’re in.
Seriously, take a moment to think about this: If you were to live out your “perfect day” while surpassing your business goals, what would you do more of, what would you do less of, and what would you keep doing?
Whatever you do, be all there.
– Michael Yeung, 28, Founder of Elite Productivity
7. Schedule days off
To strike a balance between my personal and professional lives, I schedule my week with two days free of meetings, two days for meetings, and one day for focused thinking. Alone time is crucial for me to gather my thoughts while running a start-up. I pace out meetings and remind myself not to rush. In the morning, I dedicate three hours to self-care, with running, working out, yoga, and meditation. Every three months, I take a break from Hong Kong’s fast pace to spend time with my loved ones, or explore activities that I always want to learn or improve on. Recently, I’ve been enjoying painting as it recharges me. Yoga and nature walks also help me find tranquillity.
– Mandy Pao, 36, Founder of The Aligned Entrepreneurs and EQ International