These days, we all seem to glorify the “hustle”. If you’re not working at least 12 hours a day, what are you doing with your life?
A few years ago, I was working full-out and putting in time on evenings and weekends.
I thought this was necessary to have my own business. I figured it would be temporary – there wouldn’t always be clients knocking at my door – I might as well work those peaks in preparation for the inevitable valleys.
I was also foregoing vacations. In fact, I went two and a half years without putting my email out-of-office on for even one day. Initially, this was to save money. Then I just got too busy to go away.
What did all this lead to? Burn-out, of course. But I was mystified why, when I had a successful freelance practice, I felt like I was slogging through life, not excited by anything. It didn’t occur to me that it was because my life had no balance whatsoever.
There may be some people who are genuinely workaholics and love the grind, and to them I say, go for it. But I suspect the rest of the world is a lot more like me – I really enjoy my work, but I’m miserable unless I’ve got some balance in my life. Working seven days a week just doesn’t make me happy.
I decided to make 2017 the year that I wrestled back control of my life from work. I read a few helpful books on this topic – the most important one being: The Power of When by Michael Breus. This book helped me become more productive by leveraging the time when my brain power and energy levels are highest. Here’s the changes I’ve made.
- I start work at 8:30am every morning, no excuses. Working for yourself, from home, it’s easy to start work later and later but getting right down to it tends to make me more motivated and productive.
- I do creative or strategic work first, when my brain is fresh.
- I have email notifications turned off and only check them when it’s time for me to take a break from whatever other work I’m doing (as opposed to letting emails dictate my schedule and get me distracted).
- I outsource executional work that doesn’t have a strategic element. This made a huge change in my workload, and my attitude towards my work.
- I shut my computer down by 4:00pm, without fail.
- I don’t work Saturdays, period. No catch-up time, no planning, no emails, no blog post writing, no anything. Work is completely forbidden. Knowing that Friday nights and Saturdays are all mine again brings me incredible peace of mind.
- I will work Sunday if I need to, but I limit it to a half day maximum. These days I really check-in with myself to see if it’s necessary to work on Sunday, and often it’s not.
Having reclaimed some time for myself, I’m enjoying work much more than I was before. Life is so much sweeter when you don’t glorify the hustle.