Most (not all) of us work from home. It is the direction the industry has moved. Others still work in a conventional office or a co-working space (which I recently moved to and I highly recommend it). But as entrepreneurs it is difficult to leave work at work. It’s even more difficult when all of your tools are right downstairs in the spare room. If you work at a 7-Eleven it’s easy—there are no cash registers or Slurpee machines at home. Running a travel practice…not so much. But leaving work at work is critical for your health and well-being. Remember Jack Torrance in The Shining? Here are some ideas to help you leave the office behind when your day is done.
- Change the scenery. If you are in an office, take a different route home. Take notice of the scenery. Relish the change and banish the routine. If you are at home, get out. Take a walk or a jog, but take a route that is different than that you might take if exercising. Again, relish the change!
- You are not the boss. At work, you may be the boss. At home—not so much. Despite being a big shot at work, your friends and family are not paid to take your bulls^%t. If you love them, you will treat them better than those who report to you; and conversely, if you are the entry level agent, it does not give you the right to be crowned king or queen at home.
- Let it all out. We all need to blow off some steam. If you have a spouse or roommate, or a good friend, tap into them to allow yourself 10 or 15 minutes (no more) to vent about your day. Set a timer. When 15 minutes is up—no more venting!
- You control the tech, not the other way around. Technology is a bear. We have everything needed to do our jobs in the palm of our hands 24/7. But that does not mean you need to use it 24/7. Realize that unexpected problems will come up when you are “off duty” and they need to be handled. But set realistic expectations as to the definition of an emergency and also the times of day when you can reasonably expect to handle them. Not all client issues need immediate attention.
- Ask about their day. We all want to talk about ourselves. It’s natural. But when your day ends, whether you drive home or just close the office door, ask about your family’s day. And listen. Quite likely this will give you a mind shift to break away from your work thoughts and shift them to home thoughts. But you get bonus points for being a caring and compassionate spouse/roommate/friend by listening to their woes!
- It can wait. Very few situations require immediate attention. Most can wait an hour, until tomorrow, or until Monday. Save the immediacy for the ultra-critical problems. A lost passport can be handled on Monday provided there is no travel today.
- No work zone. Take out your calendar and block off 4 or 5 hours in a week where you simply are NOT available. Turn off the phone, set the computer to do it’s back up and virus scans, lock the door and enjoy your life. Treat this exactly as an appointment with your best client. And it does not need to be a single block—make it a few blocks of time!
- Plan for the unexpected. If you are run by a calendar as I am, try to leave 25% of your day as unscheduled. Stuff will always come up and it is always more stressful to handle that when you simply do not have the time. Use this 25% to handle the emergencies, whittle down the to-do list, or to start to tackle your next marketing plan.
- Wake up. It may be hard at first, but get up an hour earlier to start your day. Don’t check emails or voicemails. Just get up, read the paper, make the bed, but do something. It will clear your head for the day and allow you to get to work a bit earlier to handle tasks uninterrupted. Me? I am up at 5am, I walk the dog and then head over to the local rec center and get my exercise in every morning to start the day. I walk about 6 miles and listen to podcasts. When I hit my desk at 730 or so, I am ready to tackle anything.
These are my suggestions and tips and how I deal with the stresses of work and separating my home and work. What works for me may (or may not) work for you. Do you have any tips? Leave me a comment!