The other night I was up until midnight taking care of to-do items for my home business. Such a thing hasn’t happened for years. However, February was busier than usual and it was a short month to boot. My husband remarked on the occurrence: “You haven’t been up this late doing work for such a long time!” The experience took me back to the early days of my home business. It was a time of 14 or 15 hour days as I tried to build a foundation and get things going, doing a lot of work for little compensation.
Some of the things I did back then seemed necessary at the time. However, looking back, I see that there are some things that I could have done to ease the burden on myself and on my family. Knowing when to quit is essential for a home business owner who wants to maintain his or her sanity.
Can It Wait Until Tomorrow?
I thought that every email had to be answered immediately. And, to my husband’s annoyance, I would check my email one last time, just before bed, and then answer my emails. I also had a tendency to work on huge lists of things, without saving things for the next day. I thought everything had to be done now, and I was on my way to burn out. Sometimes you have to know when to just quit, and let things wait until the next day.
Have You Said No?
One of the things I have been working on is getting better at saying no. In the early days of my home business, I took every job that came my way — no matter how poorly it paid or how much else I had to do. I got everything done, but the cost was late nights. And sometimes I was taken advantage of. I am more aware of my limits now. I also have a better idea of what my services are worth.
If I don’t have time for a project now, I say so. There are times when you have to tell someone no. It can be difficult, but if you want to run your home business — not have it run you — it is vital that you take control.
Creating Conditions for Taking a Break
Part of the reason it’s so hard to call it quits at the end of the day is due to the fact that your home business is, well, in your home. This means that you can’t just leave something at the office. On top of that, many home business owners don’t work a “traditional” 9-5 day. My schedule is broken up by taking my son to and from school, helping with homework, and making sure that he makes it to his extracurriculars. Sometimes, I have other obligations during the day as well.
However, I do make an effort to create conditions that allow me to separate myself from my work. I specifically block off three to four hours in the late afternoon/evening for family time. I also have a dedicated workspace, creating a separation between my office and the rest of the house. This makes it a little bit easier coming quitting time.
Part of maintaining good relationships and personal wellness is knowing when to take a break from working on your home business. What do you do to help you get away from your work?
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.