By Lea Schneider
Owning your own business is a dream of many, but sometimes parts of it can seem like a nightmare.
I used to think how great it would be to have my own schedule. I’d never have to report in to anyone else. I’d never have to ask off to see my child play ball or go to a doctor’s appointment. If I wanted to come in late and work late, I could. Fortunately, that is all true.
On the other hand, I didn’t anticipate that I’d never be off duty. There wouldn’t be anyone to tell me to go home or stop for the day. There’d be no earned vacation days or days off. At any given time, there would always be a list. Unfortunately, that is also all true.
One of the things I’ve learned along the way is when enthusiasm for your venture wanes, it’s likely because you are experiencing the start of burnout. According to PsycologyToday.com, burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to exhaustion. When it is hard to find zest for what you are doing and just reading your to-do list wears you out, it’s time to take a good look at your work-life balance.
A terrific thing about being tired and less-than-enthusiastic is it is completely reversible. While taking a long trip might be great, it isn’t always doable. However, there are a number of small ways to reset your batteries and be ready to charge forward again.
1. Establish Rules.
Treat yourself like you’d treat an employee you want to keep. You would not expect that person to work all the time, every day and always be on call – not if you wanted them to continue to work for you! Keep that in mind and don’t do it to yourself either.
Try some of these tricks if you own your own business or feel you must always be “on” for your employer.
- Remind yourself you are good at what you do and if you don’t do it until tomorrow morning, you are still going to do a great job at it.
- Consider creating business hours for your home office. I physically shut the door so I can’t see the work and the closed door is a reminder I am off duty.
- Set up a friendly voicemail that lets callers know about your hours and that messages left after that time will be returned the following business day.
- If you need to do some extra work in the evening, set an exact amount of time, such as an hour, so you don’t miss too much family time or rob from your sleep. Set an alarm on your phone to keep yourself on schedule. Alternatively, try getting up early and getting in an hour of work time before the rest of the house is up. Then, keep evening time for your family.
- Turn off your sound notification for emails. This way, you won’t be tempted to start working again when you are off.
2. Plan Ahead.
The goals you set for your business don’t come to life without planning. The same goes for having some time off. Start by recognizing that while there is always something to do, taking time off is one of the things on that list.
- Look further into your calendar and schedule a few vacation days. Knowing when they are in advance will allow you to plan and work around them.
- Build “me time” into your day. If you are up from 7 a.m. until 10 p.m. and you can’t carve out 30 minutes for yourself, you really need to work on balance. “Me time” includes planning in quiet time to exercise, take a walk, sit on the patio, watch a show or read a book. It is a time for your brain to be away from work.
3. Create Work-Free Zones.
Making some household rules will help you be off from work. Plus, it’s good for your family.
- Establish a work free room – preferably the den or living room. This is a spot where family members should be able to curl up in front of the entertainment center to watch a show or share a movie. Make it a great room to hang out in. Fun activities and family interaction are encouraged. Work is banished!
- Have unplugged areas or times. Perhaps you can place a basket at the door of the family room, and everyone has to place their phone in the basket before entering as a way to live in the here and now and avoid getting distracted by work. This is also a great rule for the dinner table.
- Enforce your bedtime. Banish checking emails or reading work materials before you go to sleep. Let your mind turn off of work. The more rested you are, the better the ideas and energy will flow tomorrow.
When you allow yourself to be away from work, you’ll be much more focused when you return. Factor in time to give yourself a break to avoid burnout and help balance your work life and home life more efficiently.
Lea Schneider is an experienced organizational expert who has advised on balancing work and life issues for many years. Lea writes her organizational tips for Home Depot online. If you are trying to include more leisure time into your own schedule and are reviewing entertainment centers as part of your plans, you can find many styles on Home Depot’s website.