In a growing company, the amount of work is endless. Often there is work that has accumulated and needs to get done immediately. Other times, everything might be caught up and working well. Things can always be better, however, even when everything is up-to-date, and the sky is the limit to the many improvements that can be implemented within a company.
Any entrepreneur, business owner, and company leader knows how difficult it is to let go of work at the end of the day. Our thoughts and worries don’t just go away the minute we walk through the front door at home. With today’s ubiquitous technology, it is very easy for work to start seeping into our spaces outside of our work hours.
I’ve recently rediscovered just how important it is to have a boundary between personal life and work. Time away from work is what allows our mind and body to rest from the tension of our jobs. It also energizes us and provides the space to creatively solve problems we are working on at the company by simply being out of the office. Giving ourselves the gift of time away must be done intentionally.
Block Times and Places
The creation of barriers that cannot be breached by work is the most important piece of the equation. The first type of limit that can help create a balance is related to time, as we must set aside certain hours of our non-work day that are blocked off. The barrier can also be physical: certain spaces are meant for a type of activity and not another. Whether the limits you place are based on time or whether they are physical or a combination of both, it is important to respect them and not allow them to be compromised.
Block times in your personal calendar according to the activities you want to focus on. Time itself is a boundary, so even if you work from home, you may decide to work only during certain times. For example, I have a friend who gets home from work at 5:30, and from that time to the time when she puts her kids to sleep around 8, she is completely devoted to home and family. At 8, she opens her laptop again and finishes her work for the day.
When it’s time to do work, only do those tasks, and then don’t touch them again. Once that time is over, let work go.
Barriers can also be physical and in my opinion are more effective. They are obvious, and with time, the physical space itself helps to trigger and emphasize the type of tasks we want to be doing in that space. Writing and publishing my blog was beginning to bleed into my time at home with my family, for instance. So, I recently reclassified my blog as a work-related project. At the same time, I decided to put up a physical wall for anything that was related to work. Since then, I’ve been doing work (including my blog) only in my office.
If the boundary is your home, then respect it. Once you set foot in your house, don’t check in on work. Give your 100% to the rest of you.
Let people on your work team and family and friends know what times you are available for what part of your life. I recommend sharing the modes of communication that work best for you and how to get in touch for different circumstances, including times you are blocking for time away from work. Also, it’s important to communicate when those people can expect a response from you.
Communicating will help you respect the spaces you have set aside for each activity. Informing others is especially effective at home; if you have decided not to do work at home on Saturdays, I’m sure a spouse or children will be happy to remind you if you are not complying with those set guidelines.
Give It Time
If you recently implemented your newly constructed schedule, give it time for it to take full effect. A perfect balance is not something that happens automatically and must be continuously refined. What worked yesterday may no longer work today, so if something is not set up in the best possible way, I suggest moving it around in your schedule. Keep experimenting to see what works best for you. With time, you will find a combination of times and places that support you both as a professional and as a person.