As a small business owner, it’s really hard for me to separate work from the rest of my life. Don’t know what I mean? Let me paint you a picture.
Work emails wake me in the night. My phone’s vibration signals a message from a client working in another time zone. It must be urgent if it woke me. Being punctual is good, right?
My day planner lingers within arms reach even after hours, just in case I need to add another task to my list. No, it can’t wait until the morning. Successful people are organized, right?
I have an office. It’s painted teal, and I’ve positioned my desk directly under the window so sunlight spills into my coffee each morning. It’s a quiet space dedicated to my work. Still, sometimes our kitchen table becomes my office. Or the coffee table. Or the cozy navy recliner by the window in our living room. If I’m feeling sick, sometimes our bedroom becomes my office too.
Since starting on this solopreneur journey just over three years ago, my work has slipped into almost every area of my life. I chose to work for myself to make room for daily creativity, independence, and freedom, but sometimes the lines around freedom become blurred. For a while, I thought this was okay.
Modern society romanticizes being busy or the hustle so much so that #nodaysoff is a popular hashtag on Instagram. I’ve used it before. I know first hand that productivity feels good and we want others to know how good we are.
Some hard facts I’ve learned: prioritizing small moments of self-care fends off burnouts. Remembering your core values realigns the rest of your life.
For starters, I’ve made an effort to replace busy with full. My days and weeks aren’t busy, but full. My schedule is full, including the time I have set aside for myself. My life is full. Bursting sometimes.
I’m not saying you need to immediately schedule yourself a spa days once a week for the next year in an effort to find balance between work and play. I’m saying that focusing on little shifts have made a difference for me. The same might work for you. For example, recently, I’ve tried to practice mindfulness in the mornings.
How? I just give myself time to wake up. I let the coffee pot fill before booting up my computer. I find a cozy spot and stay there for at least 30 minutes, usually reading (physical books—not the web) or writing (leisurely). These activities get my mind moving while the caffeine works its magic. A while later, I feel awake and inspired and ready to move to my office to start crossing items off my list.
This wasn’t always my morning routine. I had fallen into a habit of answering emails while waiting for my coffee to brew. Or answering emails before my feet even touched our wood floors for the first time in the morning. We are all susceptible to the human condition. If I’m not careful, I fall back into old habits and my productivity suffers.
Humans are habitual creatures, so balancing work and life is directly reliant on creating new habits of self-care. It is possible to simultaneously respect the time you’ve scheduled for yourself and be successful in your business. And like growing our businesses, balancing life takes time and practice. Balancing is something I’m going to need to practice for a while.
I’ll leave you with this, while I get back to my book. What can you do for yourself today?
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