Mental health issues affect everyone, but in some aspects it’s a bigger problem for entrepreneurs and business owners than others. Among other reasons, it’s because entrepreneurs can have unrealistically high expectations of themselves, often putting their mental and physical health aside to work on their business. This includes not making time for friends. If you’ve cancelled (or not even scheduled) plans with your friends more than a few times because you’re too busy, read on.

With the recent tragedy of Kate Spade, the spotlight is on the issues of mental health management more than ever. And for me, having worked with a lot of psychologists in my career and having experienced some mentally debilitating moments myself, the subject of self-care through work-life balance for business people is very close to my heart.

How many times have you cancelled your plans with friends to work instead?Click To Tweet

 

Work-life balance for an entrepreneur is more difficult than it might seem from the outside.

Have you ever felt guilty for meeting a friend for lunch when you could’ve put those two hours into work? The idea that “you get out what you put in” lingers at the back of your mind. And you make the mistake of thinking you’re only not as successful as you’d like to be right now because you don’t actually try hard enough. So, right now, you don’t deserve fun.

How about the flawed idea that somehow, you’ll make time for your health, family and friends when you’ve “made it” because then you’d actually have the spare time? (Or more like you’ll deserve a break then?) Or even the feeling of embarrassment to meet up with friends because you feel like you’ll be judged for not being successful enough?

Truth is, our friends are called friends for a reason. They’re proud of you for taking a chance into business in the first place. They were your friends before you were an entrepreneur and they’ll still be your friends even if you “fail”. In a way, they’re some of your best assets that can propel you into success (as you can for them).

You just need to make time for them.

So, just how do you make time for friends when you’re always so busy?

 

#1. Put socialising into perspective.

We can always be too busy. It’s a mindset, not an absolute truth. But when you really analyse what you’re too busy doing, it can seem like a silly thing. After all, you could be too busy watching Netflix!

When you feel overwhelmed with the amount of work you have on your plate, it’s easy to fall into the habit of prioritising it. Slowly chipping away at your work towards a bigger goal is important, don’t get me wrong. And if you’re an organised planner, you understand exactly how your daily tasks contribute to the bigger picture.

However, socialising works in the same way. Spending a few hours hanging out with friends each time goes towards a bigger goal, be it life satisfaction, a healthy mind, or simply maintaining long-term friendships. Then, making time for friends is just as important, if not more, as sending that email or writing your blog.

Making time for friends is important to your health.
Socialising with friends is a vital part of your life.

 

#2. Don’t think of it as a reward. Think of it as a vital part of your life.

Making time for friends isn’t a luxury only the successful can afford. It’s a part of all of our lives, without which we can fall into an inescapable cycle of loneliness and resulting health issues.

If you often feel that you can’t see your friends this week because you haven’t finished XYZ, work on turning around that mindset. Just like you should eat and sleep even if you didn’t finish your tasks, you need to socialise in order to live a fulfilling and healthy life. Humans are social beings, and letting yourself enjoy this part of our wiring can not only help you feel happier but also help you become a better leader.

 

#3. Put socialising into your weekly plan.

It’s understandable that you can’t just be available whenever you get invited out by your friends. After all, being organised and following plans is a great quality to have as a business owner. This means that it can be difficult to interrupt the flow of your work when the opportunity to catch up with friends arises.

When you’re planning ahead your days or weeks, actually set aside a chunk of time you’ll devote to socialising. Making time for friends doesn’t happen without you actively making time for them. Commit a couple of evenings and/or lunchtimes to your friends so that your business tasks don’t interfere with those time slots.

Making time for friends doesn’t happen without you actively making time for them.Click To Tweet

 

#4. Put it in your calendar.

You know how you put your doctor’s appointment into your calendar? Or work meetings? You do this so that you can manage your time better leading up to it, and so that you don’t forget.

Practice the same level of commitment and organisation when making time for friends. This is especially helpful if you tend to be late a lot, or if you have a habit of cancelling last minute because you got carried away with work.

In fact, set the start time as the time you need to leave your house. For example, if you’re meeting someone at 6pm and it takes 30 minutes to get there, put it in your calendar as 5.30pm. This habit will ensure that you’re accurately calculating the time you need to set aside, helping you to plan better and show up on time.

 

#5. Make a commitment to an event. Buy a ticket.

Nobody wants to be known as the flaky one. But sometimes it happens to the best of us and we can’t help cancelling catch-ups once in a while. However, it can have a toll on your friendships if you continue to flake out. While your friends understand that you’re busy and have a business to run, they can quickly feel unappreciated when they’ve made the time for you.

If you see this becoming a habit, go ahead and make a commitment to an event that’s a bit more involved than meeting up for dinner. Buy tickets to a gig, an exhibition or a movie. Having spent the money, locked in an event and knowing that your friends are counting on you to show up, you won’t let them down.

 

#6. Do chores together.

A different way to approach the issue of being too busy for friends is to do things together that you’d normally do. After working all day into the early evening, it can be hard to find time to do daily chores like grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning. But there is no reason to miss out on your social time just because you lead a busy and responsible life.

Instead of going out, invite your friends over for dinner. Meet them after work and pick up a few pieces from the supermarket. Grab a bottle of wine to enjoy while you cook their favourite meal. Or invite them along when you’re doing your weekly big shopping trips. It can be a lot of fun chatting along while walking up and down the aisles!

It doesn’t matter so much what you do together, but it matters that you’re making time for friends even when you’re busy.

Making time for friends doesn't have to be difficult
When struggling to make time for friends, do chores together like doing your weekly groceries.

 

#7. Make it routine.

Making time for friends on a one-off basis can take a lot of effort and time even when considering all the above points in mind. If you find it difficult to make new plans, turn them into a routine so that you always know when they’re happening.

Have brunch every Sunday at the same time at the same cafe. Or go for a walk two evenings a week from the same starting point.

Sooner or later, they’ll just become a part of your standard weekly routine and it won’t feel like a lot of effort to plan.

 

Whichever strategy works best for you, the important thing to keep in mind is the fact that you need to make the effort to make time for your friends. Good friends will stick by you through thick and thin, but it requires effort from both parties. So, pick up the phone now and lock in that lunch you’ve been postponing!