This one is for the self-employed multipotentialites.
Have you found that the line between your personal and business passions is so blurred that it’s pretty much non-existent most of the time? With a job you get to “go to work” and then “come home” from work and leave that part of yourself behind at the end of the day. When you work for yourself, the dividing line between the two can be much more fuzzy.
As a personal experiment, I set out to find out whether it’s okay to blur the boundaries, or whether we need some degree of separation between work and play.
Workaholism or lifestyle choice?
Part of the freedom that comes with being a solopreneur is being able to pick and choose your own schedule and work the “office hours” that suit you. But how many of us find ourselves working on our businesses during the evenings and weekends, as well as during the working week?
The standard term for someone who works a lot is “workaholic.”This word is loaded with negative connotations. In fact, it makes working a lot sound like a disease – an addiction to working.
This term got me wondering. Is the term “workaholic” only applicable when you’re unhappy? If you’re a solopreneur who just enjoys what you do and therefore spend some of your leisure time working on your business, does the term still apply?
Time for a little experiment
I decided to separate my work from my play for a couple of weeks to see what would happen. I assigned different parts of my work and play to each day. For example, Tuesdays were my main writing days, Wednesdays were for research and business development, while Sundays were designated as days off.
How did it go? Well, it was pretty tough, to be honest. The hardest part was trying to keep things separate, as I hadn’t fully realised just how much I hop from business to leisure activity and back again throughout the day.
As for taking a whole day off, did I really manage to spend my Sunday drinking coffee and reading the Sunday papers? Nope, of course not. I blew that plan to smithereens by breakfast time, when I reverted to eating toast while working on some web design ideas in a notebook.
It might be down to a lack of discipline, force of habit, or indeed workaholism, but what I can tell you is that I was happy while I was doing this. Happy and in a state of flow, just me, the notebook, and some toast. Which is what really counts at the end of the day, isn’t it?
The “blurring the line” health check
How do you know if your work is integrated into your life in a healthy way? Here are a few questions that you can ask yourself to find out.
1) How many hours are you really working?
Do you just have an unusual work pattern or are you seriously overdoing things and burning the candle at both ends? If you total up the number of hours you work in an average week and you’re way over 45-50, you’re probably working too hard.
2) Is it a choice or a necessity?
Lots of studies have shown that a lack of control is a root cause of emotional stress. It’s the straightforward difference between wanting to and having to. If you have to put in that many hours, it may be time to take a look at what changes you can make to regain control.
3) Are you enjoying it or feeling overwhelmed?
This is another great indicator. We’ve all heard that a little stress or pressure (like a deadline) can increase productivity, but tip that balance too far and the opposite becomes true. If you still feel like you’re surfing that wave rather than being pulled down by the undertow, the balance is right.
4) Is your work having an impact on other parts of your life?
When you partner rolls their eyes because you’re still working, the dishes and laundry have piled over your head, and you open the fridge door to find an empty void, maybe you have your answer! In this case, a lack of clean socks may actually be the deciding factor.
How blurred is your line between work and play? Does it cause you any problems or do you find the balance works well?