All Work and No Play Makes Life A Dull Place

What to do when work takes over.

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Recently, I realised my life had become all work. Being an entrepreneur and running your own business isn’t easy. It takes a lot of time and work to make it successful. But what do you do when you realise that’s all your life has become?

I started my business in 2015 and at the beginning of 2016 I quit my part time job to focus solely on my business. This was scary as it meant my salary would fluctuate each month, but I took a leap of faith.

With lots of networking and collaborating, I grew my business 500% in that year. It was exhausting and I was tired but it was bringing in income and I loved what I did.

In 2017, I moved from London to Glasgow to be with my then boyfriend. This meant having to start my business from scratch. Build up contacts and clients and get myself out there and known again. I also added a new service to my business which needed its own marketing and client base. On top of that I had to have part time jobs to bring in enough income.

In March this year I started dating again. It came to my knowledge like a brick to the face that I had very little time that wasn’t spent working. I was doing too much work and not really living my life. Whenever I had spare time I was doing some kind of work. I worked until I went to bed and started working soon after waking up.

I was exhausted, struggling, stressed and ready to give up. My moods were fluctuating from feeling good to feeling down. My periods were lasting an average of 15 days each month! I went on a 4 day holiday to Amsterdam and couldn’t relax because work was constant and urgent, meaning it had to be dealt with there and then! Every time my phone went off, my stress levels increased! I was ready to give up and move back to my parents in London.

But you know what? I didn’t want to move back to London. I didn’t want to start from scratch again. I didn’t want to move in with my parents. I didn’t want to quit and get some crappy office job doing something I dreaded everyday. I had already been in that situation, I wasn’t going back to it.

I decided instead to look at my life. What needed to change? What was I actually doing with my time? What kind of life did I want? How did I want to feel?

These are the first 3 things I did:

1. Identify my ideal lifestyle

The first thing I did was write down exactly how I wanted my lifestyle to be. I wrote down how much time I’d like to dedicate a week to work, how many days I’d ideally like to work, what hobbies I would like to be doing. I was very specific.

2. Examine my current timetable

The second thing I did was look at my timetable. I realised I spent a lot of time working but I wasn’t working efficiently. I may have spent 4 hours doing something I could have done in 2. Maybe it was a job I didn’t want to do, or I was working from home and getting distracted by other things or maybe the travel time to a class I was teaching was too long.

I know I work better if I go to a café with my laptop but often don’t go as I don’t want to waste money on coffee. But I decided instead of worrying about the few pounds I’d spend buying a coffee, I’d go because I got so much more work done that in the end I was saving myself money because I got things done quicker with less stress and bringing in more money in the long term. It also gave me back time. Time that would have been wasted on “trying” to do work!

3. Schedule my time

Next thing I did was schedule my time. I printed out a weekly planner and wrote down everything that was happening each week. I blocked out time for the different jobs to do within my business. I made sure I finished at a time that allowed me to have the evening off, or if I was working until late at night to start later in the day. I added in blocks of time when I would do no work. I would do a hobby, see a friend, hang out with my boyfriend or just chill in front of the TV.

When you work for yourself (or even if you don’t), it can be hard to take that time off as emails and messages and social media are all coming to your phone, which makes switching off hard. I’ve made a point now of putting my phone in another room, or having a different notification sound for messages from friends/family, so I can turn off sound except for those people, that way I don’t constantly have to check my phone or be bombarded with work when I’m trying to disconnect. This has made a massive difference. It allows me to relax and focus my attention on something else.

I know I’m not exactly where I want to be right now, but I know I’m taking the aligned steps to being there and I know that in a few months, my situation will be very different and my life will be different. All about taking positive action forwards.

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