Save Your Sanity – Separate Business from Personal

As an entrepreneur, I feel the same frustration as other small business owners… How to maintain a healthy personal life while trying to maintain the business venture.  All entrepreneurs I know vent their frustrations in groups, meetings, and social media on how much time they spend on their business ventures versus spending quality time with their families.  Many of us eat, sleep, and breath business.  It’s constantly on the forefront of our minds, regardless if we’re actually at work, at home, at a kid’s concert, or trying to hang out with old friends.

While it is completely unrealistic to 100% separate the two, you should still have a fine balance to save your sanity (and health).  So how can we alleviate some of the stress and create a healthy business/personal life balance?  It’s not easy and I still have to remind myself every week.  As a matter of fact, I even keep a list at my desk to remind me.  Here are some of my favorite tricks to incorporate that help keep me sane.

  • Create strict hour of operations.

We all have those friends and family members that ask the questions late at night, during gatherings, and on weekends.

“Hey… You operate this kind of business, what would you recommend for me to do?”

Tell them that you can get back to them during your normal operating hours because this is your personal/family time.  Yes, some people will get upset because they’ll feel like it’s personal.  It’s not, and you are not responsible for their hurt feelings.  Create your operating hours and STICK TO IT!

Then we have those times where we have personal errands that we want/need to get done: grocery shopping, returning personal documents to various organizations, chores (when working from home, this is a HUGE issue)

  • Separate to-do lists.

All entrepreneurs have a seemingly endless to-do list that is often mixed with personal and business items.  Separate them and focus on each at the appropriate times.

  • Have separate email accounts for personal and business.

Not only should you have separate email accounts, but you should also get out of the habit of constantly checking your email (either one).  Block out specific times of the day to read and respond to emails.  This kills two birds with one stone; productivity and sanity.

  • Steer away from the time-sucking vortex of social media.

Let’s face it, we all get sucked into whatever our preferred form of social media is.  Mind is Facebook and I can end up scrolling for hours.

  • Time block, time block, time block.

Time blocking is where you create a calendar of specific tasks at specific times.  I have moved away from a desk calendar to my google calendar as I found it to be so much easier to time block, cancel appointments, set notifications, and move things around as needed.  And ALWAYS time block a lunch and breaks.  Stepping away for even 5 minutes can save some sanity.

  • Have a set office space.

If you work from home like I do, separating business from personal is just that much harder.  Especially when you still have children and/or pets at home.  Though pets are children.  Create an office space and make sure it is loud and clear that this is your office.  If you can, have a separate room for your office so you can shut the door when you need to.  Of course, we have two husky dogs so I can’t just shut the door on them.  Anyone with a husky knows the hyper destructiveness of that breed.  Like having permanent toddlers on speed!

  • Clock out!

This is so super important as an entrepreneur.  When it is the end of your day, make it the end of your day.  If you have something on your mind, jot it down and save it for business hours.  Set a timer if you have to.  But at the end of your business day, leave your workstation/office/building.

I am a workaholic.  I will work for hours on end, not even realizing what time it is until everyone else gets home (which can be 3 – 4, depending upon my husband’s work schedule).  I am also finely skilled in the art of procrastination.  Yes, I had a damn good GPA for my doctorate, but I had getting my assignments done and turned in before the due date down to a fine art.  I really don’t recommend the procrastination… I can actually create more stress than there needs to be.  I have reminders set for when it’s time to work. Or else I’ll just sit at the kitchen island, drink my coffee, and watch the news all morning.

What are you tips for creating a work/home balance?  What have you tried that hasn’t worked?

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