I’m completely in love with this article on Small Business Trends:
I love it because it’s got some great tips in it that I wish I’d paid attention to when I first got started – things like exercise and eat well and have some free time.
My clients are some of the most important people in my life. When work is “over” for me – as it probably is with a lot of you – it’s never truly over. I feel like I’m always on, always taking care of issues, always thinking of ways to improve our business and customer service.
You’d think this is great for clients – but is it?
When you don’t have a work-life balance that’s fair to yourself and your clients, burn out is inevitable.
I wish I’d tattooed this on my forehead when I started Be-Vast so that it’s the first thing I saw every morning when I looked in the mirror (I guess, then, it’d have to be backwards right?)
I need less ways to cut myself a little slack, and more reasons why I shouldn’t just work 24 hours a day like I want to. So as an entrepreneur, I want to make a convincing argument as to how clients and staff suffer if you fail to give yourself a little “off” time. And by you, I’m talking about me – hopefully, I’m creating something here to come back to on days when I don’t want to turn the phone off.
1. You are the example for your staff.
Do you understand how quickly your staff – who, if you’re a small entrepreneur, might be friends or close associates – can start to completely hate you?
I’m not talking about finding you unpleasant or looking at you as “the boss” – I’m taking about starting to see you as the scary, manipulative dragonlady straight out of a lifetime movie who seems nice at first, and subsequently starts knifing people. While on skis.
I can tell you without question that I’ve had dragon lady days. No one is immune from this stuff, unless you’re playing golf all day in a corporate bubble – which probably means you’re a CEO who’s been doing business for a while.
If you happen to have parents who divorced, you know it’s an emotionally trying experience. As a child, you want to be there for your folks, which sometimes creates a situation where one parent is bitterly complaining to you about the actions of the other. If both parents are treating you like a confidante instead of the child, you’re going to be affected by that negatively. No good can come from that situation.
This is a scary, but apt analogy for projecting onto your staff. If you’re approaching your staff to unload about clients, that attitude translates downward. Poo rolls downhill. If your staff does customer support and they’re complaining about your service – and you’re complaining to your staff about your clients – you’re putting your staff members right in the middle of an impossible situation.
This seems like a really good time to insist on putting a buffer between your emotions about work, and how you relate that to employees or contractors. That’s what our friends are for – or shrinks.
2. You can’t work if you’re too tired to move.
I recently managed to give myself a most pleasant case of B12 anemia and D deficiency. My vitamin D levels were so low that I quite literally killed my metabolism. I had no energy, had to take about a 4 hour nap in the middle of the day, couldn’t digest carbohydrates and was a pretty crabby person to be around for a few months.
I decided I was going to be a smartypants and skip meals and time in the sun like my doctor recommended when I first started freelancing. This stuff isn’t necessary, right? I could just stuff my face with whatever crap I wanted while sitting at the computer, and that would give me more time for wrong.
That came back and bit me BIG TIME. Saving time by skipping lunch and time out of the house paid me back by forcing me to spend time in bed, taking breaks to stuff myself with vitamins and forcing me to do that extra time in the sun that I could have been spending on clients.
If you don’t take care of your body, it will rebel. You can only lie to yourself for so long. Working 20 hour days isn’t going to help your clients – it will destroy your health and put you in a bad situation that costs your clients and your business later.
it’s a good time to eat well, get some sleep, do yoga and take vitamins. Planning out time for this while planning out weekly tasks is not a bad idea.
3. Doing whatever the hell you want.
Everyone in the world wants you to know how important it is to have a schedule. I’ve read blogs that tell you how important it is to have a time in the morning that you get up. Some blogs say you shouldn’t do work in your pajamas, and that you should spend every day in your home office, regardless of how you’re feeling.
I say, I work for myself and I’m going to do whatever I want.
Customers need to know they can reach someone on my staff, or will at least get a prompt callback. So I understand having hours of availability as far as that goes, and of course to accommodate certain work tasks, you have to be up and at ’em during the day.
But as long as I’m growing my business, giving great service and paying my people, who CARES when I wake up, if I’m working in my pajamas or whether or not I’m sitting at Starbucks?
Obviously you need some regularity in your schedule so you don’t get buried – but I say, do whatever you want. Because if you don’t enjoy some of the perks of owning your own business, you’ll become a stick in the mud. And no one – clients, contractors, or other people around you – should have to deal with that.
You own your own business. You should pretty much do what you want.
Do you struggle with Work Life balance? How does it affect you?