Weekends used to be just that, the end of your week. The end of your work for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. As a solo-preneur or entrepreneur it seems so much harder to have established work days and hours. I have the luxury of working from home, but that also blurs the line between work and home. Even if I close the office door and completely turn off my computer I still have the sense that emails, orders, questions and new ideas are just behind the door, waiting for me.
The great news is we are connected 24/7 -- yea! The challenge is to create the balance that allows you to live a life, not just a career. If we look at the world today and the way it was 20 years ago, even if you had your own business you could still leave your work and be disconnected. On my website I list the hours for phone calls in an attempt to create clear business hours and availability for my clients. I am not a 24/7 shop and I do what I can to remind people there are boundaries for my business.
It still surprises me when I get a follow up email on a Monday morning asking me to reply from their original message sent Friday afternoon or even Saturday. Really? One of the strategies Tim Ferris talks about in the 4-Hour Work Week is to let people know when you are working and when you are out of reach. You can create an auto-responder to emails saying you are in the middle of a project and will check email once a day, twice a day, etc. You can also post a status update on your social networking sites that you do not have access to email during a particular day, etc. (Without telling them that you are vacationing in Jamaica and your house is empty for burglars.) A nicely worded Do Not Disturb message will be well received and respected.
I love my work but I don't make it my life. Too often I see people in restaurants who have their phone on the table while they are having dinner with friends and family. As difficult as it is, schedule time together, cherish the connection and the conversation and leave the phone alone. That email can wait, the text is not an emergency and the phone call is better enjoyed when they have your full attention.
To all entrepreneurs I say "take back your weekends and evenings!" Schedule time off in your calendar. Make sure you have entire evenings and days without work commitments. Turn your computer completely off and close the office door. You need time to recharge and let your brain relax. The more down time you get to enjoy the more aware you will be about respecting other people's time.
I am waiting to see who will be the first person to develop a 12-step program for internet addiction because I think I need a sponsor. Until that time, I set my own limits, establish boundaries and respond to people in a very timely manner without completely losing myself in my work. Give it a try. You may surprise yourself with how great it feels - without the guilt.
If you are reading this in the middle of the week, what will you proactively do to make time for yourself this weekend? What boundaries are in place to make sure there is an end in your weekend? Please share your comments.
Peggy McColl is a New York Times best-selling author and an internationally recognized expert in the field of personal and professional development and Internet marketing. As an entrepreneur, business owner, mentor and professional speaker Peggy has been inspiring individuals to pursue their personal and business objectives and achieve ultimate success. She provides effective Internet marketing solutions for entrepreneurs, authors, publishers, professionals, and business owners, who want to establish an online presence, achieve bestseller status, build their brand, grow and/or expand their business online. You can find out more about Peggy at her website, Destinies.com.