For many entrepreneurs, the lines between work and home are blurred or have been completely erased. Entrepreneurs are driven people and their success is dependent upon their hard work and on decisions they make. What's more, many entrepreneurs get paid only when they're actively engaged in work activities. So for the self-employed, it's no wonder why many entrepreneurs find themselves working 24/7, 365 days a year. Creating boundaries is even more challenging for those who work from a home, rather than having outside office space.
Working nonstop does not ensure success and it's important for entrepreneurs, especially when you work at home, to be proactive about setting boundaries between work life and home life.
Stay organized. If you keep a running list of the tasks that need to get done, then it makes it easy for you to prioritize what has to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow. By staying organized, you allow your brain to rest when the workday is over because you know your tasks are well accounted for and will be waiting for you on your next business day.
Always work deliberately Since entrepreneurs don't have to wait for directions from managers or supervisors to realize the work on their plates, their to-do list is always available, making it very hard to set boundaries. I'm not suggesting that entrepreneurs should work for 8-10 consecutive hours per day and that's it, it is easy to fall into a bad habit of being available at all hours of the day and night, leaving little time for a personal life. If you work for 8-10 hours during normal business hours and decide to work late at night as well, that's fine. But make sure that the additional hours are a time you set to attend to business hours and that you're not checking your email every time you go out for dinner with your significant other or your kids.
Be formal about scheduling personal activities. Often great ideas come when we're not thinking about our work, which is one reason why it's so important to make time for a personal life. To ensure that you create boundaries around your work, fill your calendar with specific activities or events away from the office. It's not enough to say you'll dedicate time to spending time with family, friends or to that hike you've wanted to do for a while. It's easy to allow work related items to sneak into your schedule when you have a vacancy in your calendar, so make sure you mark down your tee time with your golf buddies.
If you cannot ignore your smartphone, invest in a second one dedicated specifically for work. There is often a fear among entrepreneurs that if they don't answer emails, phone calls or texts from clients or customers on a real time basis that they will go away. And this fear prompts many to be tied to their smart phones, especially after hours. Most people don't expect anyone to work 24/7 and if you are providing a quality service for your clients by fulfilling one or more of their needs they will not go anywhere because you take a few hours to respond. If you find that you're a smartphone addict, consider signing up for a share plan with your cellular service provider and get yourself a separate device dedicated to work only. Then leave that device home when you're not deliberately working. At first it might seem scary, but eventually it will become liberating!
The author is an Entrepreneur contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.
Lindsay Broder, The Occupreneur Coach™, is a certified professional coach based in New York. A Wall Street veteran, she specializes in Occupreneur™ coaching, strategy and crisis management services for executives, business leaders and organizations striving to improve their businesses or careers.