Over the last few years I have, like most other business owners, struggled with a good work/life balance. While I do not feel like I am at an optimal balance yet – I know and I a lot closer than I once was. This can be tricky – but here are some tips that will help you achieve it.
- When working with clients – clearly state your business hours. I generally do this on the initial call or email as well as on my voicemail so when a client calls after midnight or tells me they are available until 11:30pm for a call (it happens) – they know I will only be available during my company’s business hours. Sure you might lose a client here or there because you are not available at 7pm on Saturday, but do you really want that type of client anyway?
- Actually follow your business hours. Sure there are days I work earlier/later or an occasional few hours on a Saturday, but if you want your clients to respect your availability – you cannot email/call them before/after it. Once you email them at 8pm – you open up the door for “she must be available all the time – so I will call her now (10pm)”.
- Keep non-work activities (online shopping, errands, etc) for after work hours. If you can put in x solid hours of work a day – you can confidently end the day at your end time without feeling guilty (for not doing enough work).
- Keep all work activities (email/voicemail, etc) for work hours.
- Realize not everything will get done in one day – no matter how long you work.
- Don’t feel guilty for taking a day/week off. Everyone needs some time away.
- Hire someone/multiple people to help out. (This was hard to do but I am glad that I have people to depend on and who can get things done when I am not around)
The tips seem like no-brainers – but they are a lot harder than you think 😉
Several years ago, the company I worked for had a secretary full of life lessons which she would tell me about each morning. Out of everything she ever told me – one thing really stuck. She told me “Jen – don’t wait for opportunities, make them”. There are not too many days that go by that I do not think about that.
So many people wait around for “that phone call, that new job, that right guy/girl, etc” (you fill in the blank) and those people will often live most of their life with regrets and/or with dead end jobs. It is easier to stay stuck in a rut than to actually make a change and if that is how you live your life – that is fine, but I wanted more.
With the economy the way it is, I have seen a lot of people get laid off or feel like they have to stay in their mind numbing job because it is “too risky” to move into a new job. At some point in your life you either have to “shut up or do something” and for your benefit – I hope you do something. The best thing I have done in my life was to stop waiting around for things to happen to me and to go out on my own and start something that was mine and I enjoyed. While it was risky – I got to a point where it felt more risky not to do anything. I finally took the secretary’s words into consideration and have not regretted it whatsoever.
I do not mean to preach, but I do ask you to take chance and to think about what you want – not in a month from now, but in 5 years from now. Can your current situation provide that? If not, what can you do to make a difference? Whatever you do, take a chance and make that opportunity instead of waiting for it!
I do not know about you – but the last year has absolutely been insane work-wise. I have said it before and I will say it again. I feel like the people that still have jobs – are working at a super frantic rate. I decided to work late tonight to get caught up on a number of tasks so my weekend will be semi-enjoyable. I like working late because I feel like I can get ahead.
Tonight – much like other nights this year – just as I think I am going to get ahead by closing out as many unread messages as possible – more come in. While writing these two paragraphs – I got 3 new messages from clients.
I do not know what will happen. Will those of us who are still working…and working at this crazy pace burn out or will businesses start to see the burn out coming and actually start hiring again?
In this recession – I have found that it is not that there is less work to do – there are just fewer people that are doing it…and those people are doing the jobs of 2-3 people. What will happen…who knows, but for now it looks like I am just better off stopping work so I can get some relaxation in for the day.
Summers seem most people’s favorite times of the year because of vacations, being outside, etc and while I generally do not hate summers – I also am not a fan. You can keep the heat, summer vacations, and all of that because my favorite time of the year is quickly approaching…fall. Fall to me means more routine (try living with a teacher when you are not on their schedule in the summer), college and professional football, fall golf (I have not been out since April…gasp), and cooler temperatures.
This summer has been hell on wheels for me, but through all of the craziness this summer – I walk away with so much more experience, knowledge, and confidence.
Hopefully the fall will also bring me back to more regular posting as well.
Taking vacation sounds nice to most but to me it is never really been enjoyable. The work pile up when I get home is always out of control and I end up feeling like I do now: run down, overwhelmed, and unable to catch up. What is the trick to coming back to a less stressful environment after taking a few days off? I am all ears!
Lately I have felt like I have been doing the never fun “suicides” that I did in high school during basketball practice. Running to one spot, running back, running to the next stop, running back, etc. There have been way too many tasks at hand and instead of finishing one and moving on – I have been in a rut of moving from one task to another, then back, then on to another and back…and I blame interruptions (email, phone, IM).
For the next few days-weeks I am going to limit myself with email, phone calls, and IM while I am working. I will respond or be available, but only at times I am taking a break from work or taking time to respond to incoming communication so I can regain some focus (and get caught up without working these manic 12-14 hour days).
If you need something – email me. If you want to chat – I will most likely be online after lunch or after dinner.
I know I am working too late when my menu bar eyeballs are bloodshot. (I have been carrying around this “Extension” since Mac OS 7.)