On Wednesday, I spent some time at Gangplank, the co-working space in Chandler, Arizona. While waiting for my Ignite Phoenix meeting to start, I had some time to chat with a friend, another small business owner. After getting caught up on the details of our week, the conversation turned to the real challenges he faced this week. Specifically, he is struggling because his business is booming, which is always great, but it leaves him little time for his personal needs.
I can relate to that. One of my new years’ revolutions involves turning around the way I schedule myself day-to-day and week-to-week. It’s a complete shift in my routine, and sometimes a change that big takes a while to settle in. Until last month, I’ve scheduled my work and then squeezed in my personal events. Starting last month, I build the framework of my schedule around my personal events, and filled the remaining time with work. At least that is what I’m striving to do.
In theory, a schedule built either way should result in an identical calendar. But in practice, I’m finding it much more difficult to put myself first in the calendar. In January, I fell back into my old habit more days than not. I have a routine, a rut, of scheduling business first, and considering myself after that. The problem with this strategy is that work expands to fill the available time. I end up with little time for myself, and only blocks of time that I’ve really walled off. Sometimes, small tasks like grocery shopping get delayed until the fridge is nearly empty in my old system. My vision going forward is to really evaluate my personal needs first, to see what I need to take care of myself and keep my life running smoothly, and block of that time in my schedule first. I’m making progress, I’m more aware of my schedule and my personal time needs than I was before I started this.
Being self employed and working from home adds another layer to the challenge that everyone faces in finding a balance between work and their personal life. One truism of running a home-based business is this: You don’t work from home, you live at work. Add to that mix a strong drive to accomplish things, add a dash of over-achievement, and you get an idea of how my life can go if I’m not careful. I struggle some weeks to take an entire day off over the weekend. I’m not complaining, I love my work and I love being so engaged by my work. I’m trying to find a new balance for myself, to be kinder to myself in my life, and to put myself first in my life.
So, what about you? Do you have a good balance between your work and personal life? If you do, what is the key that helps you keep things in balance? And if you don’t, what do you feel is the one thing that trips you up? I’d love to hear from you.