Working for yourself. Being your own boss. The chance to manage your own diary, decide when you work and where you work and who you work with. Is being self-employed as you thought? Do you ever finish on time?
Did you imagine Instagram worthy pictures when you started your journey? Visions of laptops on a beach? The reality may be very different. One where you don’t always leave on time when you are self-employed!
Hey, don’t get me wrong. I am not majorly cynical. I just want to have a real conversation with you. I have first-hand experience of how amazing self-employment is. You can manage your diary, usually decide when you work and how you work; you don’t have a Manger dictating duties and start and finish times. Yes, I have worked in coffee shops, in my back garden, on my phone on the sofa on holiday and even on a train! Currently working on the beach working though.
However, let’s have a moment of reality. When you don’t have a steady income, and work can be feast or famine, it can be easy to think you have to work 24/7. To be still on the laptop at 12 o’clock at night or answering emails “on the go” when a notification pops up.
I wouldn’t change what I do for the world, and ironically, I am less stressed than I ever was in my “steady” job. However, I feel the way I do this is being VERY VERY strict on myself. As a work-life balance coach, I have permission to be explicit with my clients, suppliers and contacts about work-life balance. I would be hypocritical if I promoted healthy work-life balance but worked 7 days a week and never saw my family.
So, as 21st June is #GoHomeOnTimeDay, I thought I would dedicate this blog to helping business owners go home on time!
How to have a healthier work-life balance when you are self-employed
Oh, I can’t stress this enough. Be clear on what your boundaries are as early as you can; as soon as you set up your business and before you start working with someone. This is the backbone of healthy work-life balance ALL YEAR ROUND, but especially on 21st June when you will #gohomeontime.
When you are contactable (working hours)
How to be contacted (contact channels)
When they can be expected to hear back from you (response time)
What you will do (responsibilities)
Now you have decided what your boundaries are, make sure you tell people. My two favourite ways of doing this are my out of office and the signature on my email. Most people contact me through my email address, so from the outset, they know when I am around and the next steps. My Facebook Page has an “out of office” on there too. Just in case they want to speak to me that way.
Bear in mind what you do and how you will serve your clients. Don’t be concerned how other people will react; this is a time to craft the working life that works for you. To make your choices and set expectations. You never know who you may positively influence to change their ways! This can be a “sliding scale” of contact, as it may not be a one size fits all! Decide now how you will communicate when you are available and how to communicate with you.
Technology is both my most and least favourite thing. When used properly, it can streamline communication and be efficient. Help you work from around the world at the time of day that suits you.
However, it can set expectations that you are available 24/7.
I use it as a way of letting people know when I am around. My out of office sets the boundaries and communications when I am back. It lets people know what to do if they need to speak to me urgently and it can’t wait. In three years, THREE PEOPLE have contacted me through my “emergency” channel.
As I say to clients, there are a handful of jobs in the world when things can’t wait!
However, my biggest “leave on time tip” is not having my emails on my phone. No notifications. No temptation to check when I am out and about. They are only on my laptop. Not only do I stick to that, I pop it in my out of office – so it sets the expectation that I won’t get to read the email until I am back working.
So, have a think; what technology can help you? What is hindering you? What are you going to change?
- Have a dedicated working space; physically AND/OR metaphorically
My work space is wherever I put my laptop. So, it can be the kitchen table, a coffee shop, a shared co-working space or even my lap on the sofa. However, I have defined working hours and make the point to leave the house (usually I must because of the school run) and “start” my working day. I also finish my working day – again, school run time! This includes putting my out of office on and putting my laptop away.
Having a “hard” deadline at the end of the day, commitments I must get to, helps me leave on time. I also then transform my workspace back to living space (or leave if I am out an about) so that I transition back into the head-space of not working.
What deadlines can help you leave work and change your space?
There the four-stage way to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. Why don’t you practise on 21st June and decide to #gohomeontime. Decide what your finishing time will be, set up your out of office, turn it on (before you leave, ideally 15 minutes before you shut down for the day) and then, well, LEAVE! Share the hashtag and join the movement
Come over to The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox to let us know what your plans are!