Finding Harmony: Navigating Work-Life Balance as Women in Business.

Hello, it’s Sara Ilton here. I am a seasoned professional with over 14 years of experience as an Executive Assistant and Virtual Assistant across various industries, spanning from Consulting, Education, Finance, Medical and Property. 

As a successful 6-figure business owner myself, I have ventured into coaching, offering valuable advice and tools tailored to women, in particular pregnant women and mothers, seeking to attain vital aspects they may be lacking in their 9-5 careers—such as flexibility and work-life balance.

I’m here to talk to you about the delicate dance of work-life balance, the power of time-blocking, and the importance of setting boundaries.

Work-Life Balance: The Myth and the Reality

Work-life balance—the holy grail of modern living. We hear about it all the time, but let’s be honest, achieving that perfect equilibrium between our professional and personal lives can sometimes feel like herding children through a busy playground.

As women in business, we often find ourselves juggling multiple hats—entrepreneur, employee, wife, mother, friend, caretaker—the list goes on. And while we’re busy being superheroes, it’s easy to neglect our own well-being in the process.

But here’s the thing: Work-life balance isn’t about achieving perfection. It’s about finding what works for you and making intentional choices to prioritise your time and energy in a way that aligns with your values and goals.

My top tips for encouraging a work-life balance that works for YOU:

  1. Define Your Priorities: Take some time to reflect on what truly matters to you in both your personal and professional life. What are your non-negotiables? Once you have a clear understanding of your priorities, it becomes a whole lot easier to make decisions that align with your values and goals.
  2. Practice Self-Care Regularly: Self-care isn’t selfish—it’s essential. Make self-care a non-negotiable part of your routine by scheduling time for activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s a gym class, meditation, reading a book, or simply going for a walk and getting fresh air, prioritise activities that rejuvenate you and help you recharge.
  3. Delegate and Outsource: As women, we often feel like we need to do it all, I have also been guilty of this myself, but the truth is, we don’t. Learn to delegate tasks that don’t require your expertise or bring you joy. Whether it’s hiring a virtual assistant to handle administrative tasks or asking for help from friends and family, don’t be afraid to lighten your load and free up more time for what truly matters.

For me, it’s all about setting boundaries and being ruthless with my time. Which brings me to my next point…

Time-Blocking: Your Secret Weapon

Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your never-ending to-do list. 🙋‍♀️ Trust me, I’ve been there too! But fear not, time-blocking is here to save the day.

Time-blocking is a simple yet powerful productivity technique where you allocate specific blocks of time to different tasks or activities throughout your day. It’s like creating a roadmap for your time, allowing you to focus on one thing at a time without getting sidetracked by distractions or shiny objects (we’ve all been there).

My top tips for Time-Blocking include:

  1. Use a Digital Calendar or Planner: Utilise a digital calendar or planner to schedule your time blocks and keep track of your commitments. Whether you prefer Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook or another dedicated scheduling app, find a tool that works for you and make it your time-blocking companion. Remember to color-code your time blocks for different categories or activities to visually organise your schedule.
  2. Be Realistic with Your Time Estimates: When time-blocking, it’s essential to be realistic about how long tasks will take to complete. Avoid overcommitting yourself by padding your time blocks with buffer periods to account for unexpected delays or interruptions. Break down larger tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, and allocate specific time blocks for each sub-task.
  3. Batch Similar Tasks Together: Group similar tasks together and tackle them during dedicated time blocks. For example, designate a block of time for responding to emails, another for client calls, and another for creative work or brainstorming sessions. Batching tasks allows you to minimise context switching and maintain focus, leading to increased productivity and efficiency.
  4. Review and Adjust Your Schedule Regularly: Time-blocking is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy—it requires regular review and adjustment. At the end of each day or week, take a few minutes to evaluate how well you stuck to your time blocks and identify any areas for improvement. Did you underestimate the time needed for certain tasks? Were there any unexpected distractions that derailed your schedule? Use this feedback to refine your time-blocking approach and make adjustments as needed moving forward.

As women in business, time is our most precious resource, and learning to manage it effectively can make all the difference in our quest for work-life balance. So, grab your calendar, block out those chunks of time, and watch your productivity soar!

Setting Boundaries: Saying Yes to Yourself

Now, let’s talk about boundaries—a word that’s often much easier said than done. As women, we’re natural caregivers and nurturers, always putting the needs of others before our own. But here’s the truth bomb: You can’t pour from an empty cup.

Setting boundaries isn’t about being selfish or saying no to opportunities—it’s about honoring your own needs and priorities so that you can show up as your best self in both your personal and professional life.

📸 by Tezzamb

Examples of boundaries I enforce include:

  1. Establishing Clear Communication Channels: Clearly define your preferred communication channels and response times with clients, colleagues, and team members. For instance, let them know if you prefer emails for non-urgent matters and reserve phone calls or video conferences for more pressing issues. Set realistic expectations about when they can expect a response from you, allowing you to manage their expectations while still maintaining boundaries around your time.
  2. Designating Work-Free Zones and Times: Create designated work-free zones and times in your schedule to prioritise personal and family time. This could involve setting specific hours during the day when you are not available for work-related tasks, as well as designating certain areas of your home as off-limits for work activities. By creating physical and temporal boundaries between work and personal life, you can protect your downtime and foster a healthier balance between the two.
  3. Setting Limits on After-Hours Work: Establish boundaries around after-hours work by defining when you will and will not be available for work-related tasks outside of regular business hours. Communicate these boundaries to your clients, colleagues, and employer, making it clear that while you are committed to your work, you also value your time. Consider setting boundaries such as not checking work emails or taking work calls after a certain time in the evening or on weekends, allowing yourself to fully disconnect and recharge.
  4. Saying No When Necessary: Learn to say no to requests, commitments, and opportunities that don’t align with your priorities or values. As women, we often feel pressure to be people-pleasers and say yes to everything, but saying no is essential for protecting your time, energy, and well-being. Practice asserting yourself respectfully but firmly, whether it’s declining additional work projects that exceed your capacity, turning down social invitations that don’t align with your schedule, or setting boundaries around volunteer or extracurricular activities. Remember that saying no isn’t a sign of weakness—it’s a sign of self-respect and self-care.

For me, setting boundaries means carving out dedicated time for self-care, unplugging from work after a certain hour, and learning to say no to projects or commitments that don’t align with my values or goals. It’s about reclaiming my time and energy so that I can show up fully present and engaged in every aspect of my life.

And let me tell you, it’s been a game-changer.

Embrace the Journey

So there you have it, my perspective on how to achieve work-life balance through time-blocking and boundaries and a beautiful reminder about the incredible power of women in business. Remember, it’s not about striving for perfection but embracing the messy, beautiful journey of life and entrepreneurship.

As you navigate the highs and lows of your journey, know that you’re not alone. Reach out to your network for support, lean into discomfort, and never underestimate the power of self-care. Whether it’s treating yourself to a relaxing massage or enjoying a solo beach walk, carve out time for yourself to recharge and find balance amidst life’s demands.

Ready to outsource and reclaim your time? View my services here! Thinking of starting your own VA business? Take the first step and download my free guide here!

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By Sara Ilton

Sara Ilton is a seasoned professional Virtual Assistant, business owner and mentor dedicated to assisting 6 and 7 figure business owners and entrepreneurs. With over a decade of experience as an Executive Assistant across diverse industries including Consulting, Education, Finance, Medical, and Property in Queensland, New South Wales, and London, Sara brings a wealth of expertise to the table. Renowned for her exceptional verbal and written communication skills, professionalism and proficiency in swiftly mastering tasks, Sara ensures that every project is completed efficiently and on time. With a passion for exceeding expectations and a track record of meeting deadlines consistently, Sara provides a level of trustworthiness and dedication that allows clients to entrust their businesses to her with confidence, freeing up valuable time for growth and strategic endeavors. As a successful 6-figure business owner herself, Sara understands the challenges and aspirations of entrepreneurship intimately. Leveraging her firsthand experience, she now offers coaching services, empowering pregnant women and mothers to navigate the professional Virtual Assisting world with confidence. Through personalised advice and tools, Sara helps her clients attain vital aspects such as flexibility and work-life balance, enabling them to thrive both personally and professionally. With Sara's guidance, clients can achieve their business goals while maintaining harmony in all aspects of their lives.

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