I have two kids in college and another on the way next year. I am a single dad working my agency as well as a few other business ventures. While some may call me a workaholic, I don’t see it that way. For sure I work very odd hours. I can be found awake in my office in the middle of the night editing a website, making a to-do list for final payments for an upcoming group, or just catching up on the news in the industry. But I also find time to shuttle my youngest child to and from school, attend her events, and have a social life as well. Last week, a friend asked how I managed it all by taking work home with me all the time. The secret is that I don’t.
It may seem that I am always “on,” but that is not the case. I am a horrible networker, but I have a terrific network. If I am at a social event, I am not the guy pimping my latest group cruise. If it comes up, there may be a brief conversation and the presentation of a business bard, but beyond that, I try to isolate the various parts of my life. So, how do I do it? Here are some tips that may help you based on my experience. I am sure you have some too—so please leave a comment!
Change your environment. With working at home, it is very easy to slide between a kitchen, grill, and computer. Don’t. When the workday is done, physically go change the environment. When my working day is done, I walk the dog It’s a signal to him that he has some “me time” and it gets me out of the house, some exercise, and a fresh mind for whatever the rest of the day will hold. For others it might be turning off the computer, changing the music, exercise, a shower, etc.
Let it out. The stress of work will wear on you. It happens here in the travel industry—and if you are dispensing Slurpees at the 7-11. If you feel the need, blow off steam. Take 15 minutes and work out hard, walk out back and scream, vacuum the living room very vigorously—something.
Disconnect. We live in a connected world and most of us are available to our clients 24-7. Granted, we hope that they don’t take that too literally; but take some time to unplug. There are very few emergencies that need immediate attention and cannot wait an hour or two. You will be surprised at how easily it is to leave the phone in car at a cocktail party or leave it at home while you spend an hour at the pool. I cannot think of a single thing that would put your business out of business unless you provided immediate attention. Remember, it was not all that long ago when cell-phones were for the uber-rich!
Converse. Take time to talk. Not text your spouse, significant other, children, dog, cat, or whatever. Ask questions. Find out what’s happening in their lives that is important or meaningful to them. And listen. No need to fill the conversation about you. There are plenty of other opportunities for that.
Schedule a no-work time. This is difficult, but once you do it, it becomes easier. It may be a few hours daily, it may be a day each week or month, or it could be an annual retreat; but get away and don’t do any work. Saturdays are my day. If my computer comes on, it’s for leisure. I do not plan any meetings. I do not answer emails. I will not answer my office phone, and I am selective on my cell. This is my time to go to a college football game (Navy lost to Notre Dame on Saturday), out for a sail, or take my kids someplace. Life is about living.
Get up. I already said my hours are odd. I also get up a lot earlier than my family and can often get more work done in an hour before dawn, than in 4 hours during the business day. It may be the little things we all push back. It may be just plodding through your inbox to handle all the emails. Train yourself to do this and you will reap rewards.
These are my tips; and they are tough at times because there always seems to be something work related that crops up in the off hours. These help me manage my workflow and separate the business from the fun!
I’d love to hear what you do to separate home from work. If you have a tip, please share it in the comments. It would probably help a lot of us!
PS: Hey, are you interested in writing for TRO? We have some slots open for 2015 in our Agent Perspective columns as well as the Travel Agent Diaries! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk about it!