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Achieving work/life balance and business success.

Balancing your home and work lives can seem next-to-impossible when you are a small business owner. Work responsibilities have a way of popping up and stealing the time you hoped to spend with friends and family, exercising, doing volunteer work — or whatever else needs done.

During the summer months, achieving work-life balance gets even harder. That is the time you may want to take time off for travel and more. But it can also be an especially busy time at work.

With creative planning and a little technological assistance, it is possible to carve out a few free hours or days in your busy schedule.

Here’s how:

Set up separate phones for business and personal use. Many people use their personal cell phone number when they start a business. And why not? It’s convenient, enables customers to reach them whenever they want and doesn’t cost a dime.

Fast-forward and guess what happens? Yes, they saved a few dollars and now have a phone on perpetual vibrate. Many of those texts and calls aren’t even from customers. According to Consumer Reports, three of 10 phone calls in the U .S. are now robocalls and marketing scams. Not only do they clog your line, they can eat up your already-limited time.

Using your personal number for business, in other words, not only disrupts your downtime, it creates inefficiency during your workday. Creating a separate work line can give you more screening options and a way to turn off when needed.

Use remote deposit and other time-saving technologies. If you’re like many small business owners, you take it upon yourself to make runs – sometimes daily -- to the bank to make deposits. That time’s you can put to more productive if you switch to remote deposit, a banking service that lets you or your staff scan checks and submit deposits from your business or home using a secure Internet connection.

Not only can remote deposit save the time and expense associated with trips to the bank, it also enables businesses to make deposits immediately, rather than holding them until the next trip. That means you’ll also gain access to funds faster, benefiting your cash flow as well!

Other online tools can help you save time by automating your billing and payment processes. For example, Commerce offers a service to small businesses called Cashflow Complete that lets you approve invoices and pay bills with the click of a button from wherever you are, from the beaches of Maui, to the bleachers during the halftime of your daughter’s soccer game. You can also automate your company’s invoicing and collections, and then manage invoices and reminders from your phone, tablet or computer.

Evaluate your staffing model. You aren’t the only one who wants a better work-life balance. Your staff would rather not sacrifice their vacations to serve last-minute needs. Now is a good time, therefore, to look ahead, anticipate the coming workload and identify any gaps in summer staffing.

If summer months tend to be slower, you can adjust work schedules and encourage time-off. But if there are clear gaps, you should create a staffing plan and start filling them now. Part-time staff or summer interns can help tide give everyone a little bit of breathing room.

The bottom line: When you allow your work to dictate how you spend your time, your work always wins. It’s far better to take advantage of strategies and tools that put you squarely back in the driver’s seat. That is the first step toward achieving work-life balance.

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