I’m guessing I’m not the only self-employed person who finds it challenging to manage the work / life balance? Many of us these days have more than one source of employment. Whether it’s working for an employer whilst setting up your own business or juggling more than one part time job. Plus we need to factor in our commitments running a household, caring for family members. I thought I’d share some of my experiences and ideas for keeping sane!
Blurred lines between work & non work hours?
Particularly if you work at home, it’s easy to fall into the trap of scheduling too many non work appointments during the working day, such as doctors, dentists, haircuts etc. I find it’s then the slippery slope to spending even more time while I’m out doing other errands such as post office, pet shop, food shopping etc then before you know it, a whole afternoon has gone.
I found this works…
Scheduling in my diary just one regular slot in the week for errands, which is more realistic than trying not to do any in work hours at all.
The right kind of busy?
A former boss of mine used to ask “are you the RIGHT KIND of busy”? I suppose there’s the kind of busy where you’re running round like a headless chicken, frantically multi-tasking without much time to monitor if you’re being productive. Then there’s a more organised, diligent type of busy where you may be working all the hours but you’re focussed and satisfied you’re completing your priority tasks. If you have several clients and especially if you offer different types of services, it can often feel like you’re being the first kind of busy ie. trying to keep all the spinning plates in the air! I did empathise the other day when a friend described herself as “chronically self employed”. It can feel like that sometimes!
I found this works:
Book yourself a diary slot to manage and prioritise your task lists then write key tasks in your diary on days when you can realistically achieve them. I usually only schedule a small number of tasks to allow for the fact that unforeseen things will need addressing as well. Try and complete one task before starting another and allow yourself rewards to maintain focus.
Not Taking Proper Breaks or Holidays
Although it seems a good idea to push yourself and keep going if you have a deadline or work pressures, it ends up taking it’s toll on your wellbeing and ultimate work performance, so it’s important to take breaks. We all know this but it’s often a job to put it into practice.
I found this works…
Set an alarm on the other side of the room so you physically have to leave your computer. Then you can stretch, go outside etc. For the more spiritual among you, taking a few moments throughout the day to close your eyes and take 5 or 6 long, slow, relaxing deep breaths in and out, will help keep you grounded. Even if you don’t count yourself as “spiritual”, this is a great way to prevent the build up of stress. It’s well known that we commonly don’t breathe properly or blink enough when concentrating for long periods at the computer.
Self-employed people often fear that the world will end (or their business) if they go away and leave it. The reality is that if we constantly neglect our need for downtime then it might be us that comes to a sticky end! It’s good to remember that life’s not all about work! Often a change of scenery and some r&r really puts the wind back in your sails and can give you a more helpful perspective on work matters by being away from them.