How to Balance Business and Wellness

by | Jun 4, 2024 | Consulting, Nonprofit Consulting


“I have so much to do. There is never enough time!”

This was how I felt nearly every day in my early years of nonprofit consulting.

I was working what seemed like endless hours to make my business as successful as possible. I took on every client that came my way because I wasn’t confident yet that I would find more clients in the future.

I told myself that I could rest later, once my business was on solid ground.

But building a business never stops. You will always need to grow and evolve it, and you will always set new and exciting goals.

The key is to find that balance between your business and your wellness.

Personally, I didn’t find that balance until after I faced several health crises due to pushing myself far too hard. I’m still dealing with the repercussions of those choices and health issues years after they started. Here’s some of what I learned along the way


Choose your hours and your income.

Instead of initially focusing on how much you want to earn, try planning out how much time you want to take off. Do you want to take off a full month around the holidays, like we do here at Funding for Good? Do you love having a chunk of time to relax in the summer, or prefer having a long weekend every weekend? Find the time-off schedule that sounds like magic to you.

Now, once you understand how much time you want for yourself—and your family, health, hobbies, and relaxation—look at how much time is available for client work. For example, you might discover that your ideal schedule is 25 billable hours a week for 10 months out of the year.

Match this to how much you want to earn for the year to create your base hourly rate. If that rate is higher than your current rate, that is okay! There are plenty of ways to raise your effective hourly rate, including project-based billing.


Determine your values and stick to them.

Being a consultant is empowering because we get to choose our own values.

We can decide that we value working with certain types of nonprofits, such as advocacy, arts, faith-based, or direct service groups. We can choose to promote the work that we love doing most. We can also decide to prioritize wellness and sustainability in our business, even if that means we might grow our income or client list a little slower.

Of course, sticking to our values isn’t as easy as making them. If you have a batch of clients suddenly knocking on your door, how do you say no?


Pro Tip: Create a Waiting List or Longer Onboarding Process

Most clients don’t mind being on a waitlist for your services. In fact, it can even increase your credibility. You can book clients a few weeks or even months out. This simple change can transform your workload and stress level while reducing uncertainty around your income for the year.

You don’t even have to say you can’t work with a client until a later date. You can start with something like this:

“We can work to onboard you beginning next month. We’ll get your scope of work nailed down, get a contract over for signatures, and secure your initial deposit. Once those administrative tasks are handled, we’ll book your first planning call for [the month after that].”

You just gave yourself almost two months to prepare to work with a client in a way that made them feel like they were securing your services “now.” On top of that, an initial planning call is just that: planning. It could be discussing who’s involved, everyone’s roles, timelines, setting a few calls, setting clear communication norms and expectations, etc. So, again, you are really only doing prep work at this point.


Take breaks.

Step away from your desk!

Yes, you may have spent many years eating sad desk lunches. But you are the boss now. You set the parameters for your own schedule. Here are some ideas:

  • Plan in 5-10 minutes every hour to stretch and grab some water (or coffee or tea or whatever your favorite beverage is). Set a timer to remind yourself if that helps.
  • Book 20-minute or 50-minute calls, or make a policy of no back-to-back calls. You could also set certain “call and meeting free” days.
  • Eat away from the computer and the phone. Use this time to breathe and recenter yourself.
  • Schedule different types of client work in a way that works for you. For example, you might enjoy making client calls in the morning and writing and researching in the afternoon (or vice versa).
  • Learn to integrate new modes of working, like using dictation to draft documents. Yes, it takes time to learn, but it can become a powerful tool for wellness and productivity.


What has worked for me to balance business and wellness?

These are all great ideas and you’ll have to determine what may work for you and your unique situation. People always ask me questions about what has worked for me. I’m happy to share.

After getting to a point where I had lots of health issues due to adrenal fatigue, stress, not working realistic hours, not saying no, etc. I learned the hard way.

Now, I have implemented some pretty great policies into my life. Here are a few:

  • I rarely book a meeting or call before 10 am EST. I have Boot Camp calls two times a month starting at 9 am, but that is the exception. Boot Camp is exhilarating for me, and I get up looking forward to those calls. So, it’s a happy, non-stressful exception twice monthly. I find that I can walk with the dogs, cook breakfast, relax, get a few things done around the house, go to the gym, etc. So, the morning is mine.
  • I don’t take calls after 4 pm EST because my dogs hate it (see Max pictured right). At that point, they see me work all day and are ready for family time. So, 4 pm EST is probably the latest you’ll see me booking a call or attending a meeting.
  • I never offer online sessions in the evenings or on weekends. That’s just a non-negotiable.
  • I don’t travel off the East Coast after September 1 for anything. I love the Fall and choose to stay on the East Coast for that season and the holidays.
  • I don’t work the week of my birthday, ever.
  • I close the business for four weeks every year from mid-December through mid-January.
  • This year, I officially created space to take an additional four weeks off outside of the December to January dates. We work really hard. I started this business to build the life of my dreams, and part of that was not always working. So, eight weeks a year it is. I’m excited and feel like we worked hard to get here. This was a major business and life accomplishment.

These are just a few examples of how my personal and business life has evolved over the 15 years I’ve been in business. I could have accomplished these earlier, but I learned a lot the hard way. Believe me when I say you CAN create the business of your dreams. You CAN have the life you want. It IS a lot of work, but it is doable.

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