How much is too much?

It’s the age old question, isn’t it: how much time spent on my business, is too much freaking time?

Potential cuss words aside, it’s a valid point, and one that eats away at anyone who owns a business. Sure, we are entrepreneurs and knew that going solo would take a lot of work, but when should we draw the line and lock our phones away (at least for a day)?

It’s scary how quickly checking one thing turns into feverishly overturning the internet at 1am on a Thursday. There’s nothing more glamorous than your partner reminding you you need to be up in five hours…and still need to shower, find your yoga gear and pretend to meditate before passing out.

Obsessive work tendencies aside, it’s difficult to simply stop. Your business is your creation after all, and often there’s no one else around to keep it running aside from you and the worrying accountant. It’s easy to justify putting in the extra hours, because realistically – who else is going to respond to those emails? Or send out those bills? Or review that contract?

We put on every hat in the wardrobe, and then buy a dozen more, in order to keep up with our business. And in the digital age, things are changing quicker than we can wrap our heads around them, meaning we are expected to keep up with and be ahead of the trends more than ever. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s a very bloody time consuming thing.

So, how can we clock off? As independent business owners, there’s no one pestering us to lock up the office or to bugger off for lunch. We make our own rules and create our own schedules, and somehow, we need to stick to them.

We’re sure there’s a thousand articles out there discussing in immense detail the negative side effects of too much work (read: burnout), which is why we’re not going to impose that on you today. When nurturing a new biz, there’s going to be long days and irregular meals. You’re going to skip events and fall behind on Netflix because you are passionate about what you’re doing. And that’s amazing, and something to really be proud of, but there’s also a limit where passion turns into obsession and obsession turns into exhaustion.

Being some of the many who worked their way through university (and then graduated onto working, studying and launching a new business) we’ve learnt a trick or two about how to take a moment and stop.

Have a drink

When was the last time you sat down for a cup of tea/coffee/gin that didn’t involve a client or a friend or a flurry of emails? Make it your mission today to set aside 30 minutes to enjoy your beverage of choice with nothing but a side of books and biscuits.

Work around YOU

If your brain is zinging in the mornings, schedule your day around it’s optimum charge window. Alternatively, if you’re hardwired to be up until 2am, start your days slower and kick things off in the afternoon. As long as you’ve booked in for a little self care, and are still having conversations that don’t revolve around rates and retainers, you’ll be fine.

Create a daily limit

Whether that be a certain number of tasks to complete or hours to log, assess your typical working schedule and map out how many things you need to do each day to keep the business running smoothly. Awesome, you’ve just created your mandatory tasks. Next up: how many hours of client work do you need/typically do each day to keep the dollars rolling in? Combine these two together, and you’ve got your limit. Exceeding this may be necessary on certain occasions, but it’s not going to help you feel relaxed in the long run.

Sign yourself off

Come on, you can do it! If you’re not feeling up to it, ask your partner/friend/mum/neighbour to be your accountability buddy and make sure you stop working after a certain time of day. Create a punishment system if you will – e.g. every minute extra is a dollar towards —.  It may feel brutal at first, but after a while you’ll start looking forward to closing your laptop and putting your feet up for the day.

Reflect & repeat

Writing about your business might not be the most glamorous thing to do on a Friday afternoon, but it’s as valuable as a diamond necklace. Reflect on the days where you kicked ass and the days where you barely refrained from firing your computer. Try to do this weekly or fortnightly and then at the end of every 3 months go back through your entries and see what worked for you and what will be getting the boot.

Like all of our advice, it’s just that: advice. We are not (yet) qualified business coaches, but instead speak from experience and from the overworked heart. We’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on setting some boundaries around your work, and if you’ve achieved that *ethereal* work/life balance.

Until the next brew,

Team Rust

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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