Kseniia Ivanova — founder of InSoul Effects, a boutique VFX studio on “How to maintain work-life balance in the startup world through planning”


Balancing work and life can be a challenging task, especially for entrepreneurs. It can be simple to balance by jiggling things around in some cases, but it can be complicated in others. It is far from a myth, as everything depends on how you organize things, such as tasks, projects, and your work schedule. 

Defining a Healthy Work Life Balance for You

When you’re working at a startup, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle and forget to take care of yourself. However, habits can be an integral component here. Choose the best for your mental health: fifteen-minute walks, yoga breaks, or family lunches. Simply put, maintaining a balanced lifestyle is more than possible, even if you may have to give it up from time to time due to looming deadlines. 

While this sounds too good to be true, there is one fundamental condition: you must organize everything meticulously, starting from the endless flow of tasks, the team calls, meetings, and to-do lists. It is common for entrepreneurs to work late into the night, but that does not necessarily mean they cannot prioritize their personal lives. Managing your work-life balance is about striking the right balance and caring for yourself. For instance, I am writing this post at 10 p.m., and some might say it is too late to do something creative or even productive, but they do not know the whole story: I spent the entire day with my family and took a powerful afternoon nap; it is all about managing the balance, right?

There is no such thing as perfection in the business. Everyone strives to achieve it and beat the competition by embracing it daily. You should confess that you are also a human with basic needs such as food, sleep, socializing, and rest. People who realize this from the start are likely to enjoy their entrepreneurial adventures. They, in particular, complete more significant projects.

Taking a break from reality, like going on vacation or changing your scenery, can also spark your creativity and help you find  a way to solve problems. This is how our brains work, so you need to put reality on pause, and solutions to the issues will fly to you immediately.  

My Startup Work-Life Balance Journey

As a founder, I learned crucial lessons about sustaining the work-life balance, including managing mental and physical health, maintaining productivity, stimulating creativity, building relationships, and setting an example for employees.

First, improving mental and physical health is invaluable to overall well-being. Neglecting self-care while working long hours can lead to burnout, stress, anxiety, and other nervous disorders. This could ultimately result in ineffective business activities, and burnout can even progress to more severe forms like depression, which can hinder success in the field.

Staying productive is another reason that drives businesses further. When founders are burned out, or in distress, their productivity is below zero. So, taking regular breaks, exercising, and having some hobbies are crucial to recharge the batteries and staying productive and efficient. Taking time off can be a great motivator to boost creativity and generate new ideas. In other words, taking a break can trigger brain processes to escape the “feeling of being stuck” and enhance innovation for existing problems.

At the same time, you should not end relationships with others as soon as you become an entrepreneur. It could lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, contributing to the cumulative effect of burnout or depression. Thus, maintain strong relationships with family and friends since they would be the only ones to give you a hand during challenging times.

Implementing work-life balance into the organizational culture would make your company stand out. It would show that you, as a founder, care about mental health and send the appropriate message to employees about the values of well-being, leading to higher employee morale, engagement, and retention.

Time Management Tips for Busy Entrepreneurs

Time management is an integral part of entrepreneurship, and here are a few examples of how I do it.

Having a calendar meeting for every significant work event will help you organize your day more efficiently and keep track of everything. From checking social media to taking a lunch break, putting everything on your calendar can help you establish a routine to which your body will adapt over time. And if you are consistent with repetitive activities, your body will develop a habit on a physical level. There is no magic here; it is simply how human nature works. 

Separating work and life connections is crucial. By using one app for work-related communications and another for social relationships, you can avoid the stress and anxiety of mixing everything. For instance, at InSoul Effects, we use Discord. So, I can check my WhatsApp messages without worrying about work-related issues, especially on weekends. 

Another helpful habit is to avoid checking your phone during the first and last hour of the day, which can reduce mental pressure and prevent sleep disturbances caused by blue light exposure. That is why sleep is so important: you need at least eight hours of sleep per night, and your bedtime should begin before 11 p.m. to give your body the relaxation it requires.

The deal breaker in the time management game uses planning software to organize daily to-do lists, monthly targets, and yearly goals. There are numerous options on the market, such as Google, Notion, Monday, Notepad, and Asana; just pick one and try.  I started with Asana but later switched to pen and paper.

Finally, incorporating healthy habits like walks into your schedule can help you stay focused and motivated. By marking these walks on your calendar and having someone call you during them, you can prioritize your mental and physical health while maintaining productivity.

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