On a quiet Tuesday night, just an hour after I came back home from a relaxing yoga session, I decided to check my inbox. I was waiting for a client update and I just wanted to get my planning right for the next day.
Wait, what? Checking emails in the evening? After an effort to relax? Was it an emergency? Was I involved in a tight-deadline project? Did I miss to send an update myself?
There was no emergency but I still went on and checked my emails. I guess you know what follows. I spent almost an hour answering an email, checking on my calendar, and working out some updates for the week, which I had already checked and updated.
The moment we sit down at our desk to check emails after working hours, that’s the moment we say goodbye to the only time of mental rest we can get in the course of the day. That’s it. Gone. And it’s all on us.
This busyness is all because of no boundaries with working hours. If you’re a (new) business owner you feel the time pressure anyway. You’re trying to organise yourself, your administration, client acquisition efforts, marketing, you name it. Let alone managing client expectations. If we don’t have a fixed working schedule we won’t be able to effectively manage client expectations. And we’ll probably have a burn out on top of that.
But things are getting worse when your everyday life activities become part of your personal brand if you decide to be out there. The concept of becoming visible and share more and more of yourself, your work, your life, online and offline isn’t new. We all know and feel the tiredness sometimes but we fail to stop and listen to what’s going on. Because in the short run it feels like it doesn’t really matter. It’s our sacrifice to get more clients, sell more products. We think that’s the way to do business, especially when you’re starting out.
It’s a mistake. The itch to remain “involved” in different activities both online and offline will take a toll on us and our well-being. It’s already happening, people are getting desperate for guidance, spiritual or physical or both. And the support is necessary. But before that what’s necessary is to stop being busy just for the sake of being busy.
Having my own business for nine months now I recently realised that it doesn’t matter if I cut down on the time spent being out there. I’ll do my part as planned but only within the timeframe, I’ll set for myself. After that, I’m not there.
Actually, I’m nowhere. Because besides our business struggles with time there’s also the life busyness we put ourselves into. All the I-have-to’s. You know this feeling when you get a minute and you don’t know what to do with yourself? Because you-have-to do something, anything? That’s the busyness spiral.
So I set strict business hours and life busyness hours. The former means I don’t work during w/ends and after 5 pm. I don’t work means I don’t answer emails, I don’t do client work, I don’t take phone calls. I’m not in the office, that’s what it is about.
The latter means I don’t have to go for drinks, I don’t have to exercise, I don’t have to meet friends, I don’t have to attend family events, I don’t have to cook. If I don’t feel like it. So before adding something to my after-5pm agenda, I think if I want to do that. What do I get out of it? If it’s about fun and relaxation, warm feelings, creativity, helping out, then I’m up for it. For everything else, I don’t have the time anymore.