Ever since I started my business, I knew that a work / life divide was critical to my continued sanity. Without a commute or separate office (I was working from home) to ensure this divide, it became very important that I stay on top of the issue. This has become second nature to me, so I’m a little surprised when other entrepreneurs struggle with it.
It’s not easy — one of my current clients has a day job, making it difficult to meet. The urge to make an exception is strong. But if I allow myself this excuse, more will follow. I have to put my foot down and find a compromise (in this case by phone).
After being interviewed on the podcast Hello Tech Pros, it became apparent that this is not so easy for everyone. I’m here to say DO IT. I don’t care if you are 10 years or 10 months into your business. If you haven’t set any work / life boundaries, it’s time to do so.
My Work / Life Divide
Work never starts before 8am. Eeeeevery so often there is a networking event that eeks its way into my life at 7:30am, but that is rare. If I start working before 8am, I’m more likely to wake up too early for my own good and lose the slow mornings I cherish.
Work ends by 6pm. Sometimes I cut out early. Either my brain will just have stopped or I’ll have done all I can for the day. But even when I’m on a roll, I don’t go past 6pm. Let me be clear — sometimes a networking event goes later. These usually involve beer and not a whole lot of work-thought. I let these slide, but usually only one a week.
Don’t be checking email on your phone. Seriously. It’s so, so easy to do, but you’re way more likely to slip into checking email on your phone during family dinner or in bed, so just don’t. The only time that it should be acceptable is when you are traveling during the work day. If I’m between meetings outside the office, I may glance at email on my phone to check for emergencies. I find that if I actually begin to respond to email on my phone, I mistype (which looks unprofessional) and have to toggle between apps to find information. Pain. In. The. Ass.
Put it away. When the day is done, put your sh-tuff away to avoid burnout. If you have a home office, shut the door and don’t reenter until the next business day. I either work from home or from a coworking space, which means that everything is in my briefcase. Everything stays in that briefcase when work is done.
There are exceptions. For example, when a client pays extra to have me work over the weekend for a rush job. That’s a worthy exception. A conference or event can qualify as an exception as well, just be sure to have some relaxing time built in or take Monday off so your mind doesn’t fatigue. Some of my board meetings are on weekends as well — these matter a lot to me so I accept them but keep the rest of my day clear.