I could feel this overwhelming sense of anxiety overcoming me. I couldn’t shake it. Nothing I did could make me feel at peace in my home. Everywhere I went there were constant reminders of my inability to “leave” work. The iPhone in my pocket, the laptop on the kitchen counter, the iMac glaring at me from the downstairs office, the secondary laptop in the main office, the iPad. They all screamed “GET TO WORK” every time I seen them. My iPhone was set to notify me when an email came through and just as I would get settled into a book with the kids or playing in the sandbox… DING!!!
Most of the time it was nothing, but often enough, the notification meant I was retreating to the house to work.
My phone would ring at midnight. My largest client was just making time for me and would require nearly 16 hours from me tomorrow.
I would burn the chicken standing at the bar in the kitchen trying to get out just one. more. email.
In the fall of 2011, after years of working around the clock for clients on four continents, I was done. I had built a business from home that allowed me to stay home with my kids and then built it so big that I couldn’t fit all of the work in during the pre-dawn hours or after the kiddos went to bed. I had a team of 30 working with me to get it all done and was still never able to just relax for the day. I became sick. Two months, three antibiotics and several weeks of drifting in and out of consciousness later… I quit. My body couldn’t make the message any clearer. My stress levels had gone so high that I physically crashed for 8 weeks. I limped through it and when I arose in November to a recovered mind and body I began to send out the emails that would change our lives. I fired every client but one, including one of my industries most powerful men. One email and they were gone.
I spent most of December looking back at what I had done over the years. How could I just let it all go? I began to rebuild, but the terms were clear. No clients at all hours of the night. No devices in every room of the house. No iPhone always on the ready. No more constant email notifications. I had to separate my work from my home life.
The Rules of Separating Work From Home
- Dedicate a room of your house to your work. The room needs to have a door that closes and contains all of your devices when you aren’t working. No iPhone in the pocket. No iPad on the couch.
- You need to have “hours” and you need to walk away the minute those hours are up. Most moms I know work from 8pm to 1am or 6am to 9am. Those are great hours for a work at home mom. Designate hours and stick to them.
- Have a second phone with a private phone number. Only share it with the school, your spouse and your family. This phone is for times when you are out in the sandbox, playing at the park or out with the family. This way you have a phone for emergencies and family, but aren’t connected to work all of the time. No EMAIL on this device. Okay?
- Weekends. NO.
- Holidays. Absolutely NOT.
- No work from the time the kids get home from school until they go to bed. (They need to have a set bed time.)
- No devices at the dinner table.
If you are just getting started, enact these rules now. If you are already working for yourself, start working to get these rules in place. You will need to let your customers and clients know when you are available and stick to it.
Krista Conway is an entrepreneur who blogs about working from home, social media and other random thoughts on her blog at www.KristaConway.com