How to Keep Your Work Life in Check
I'm in the doghouse.
You see, I committed the ultimate sin for a guy. I forgot Valentine's Day yesterday.
I've been so wrapped up in a copywriting project, I simply forgot.
The fact is, when you work at home, maintaining a balance between your work life and your home life is a fine line. And I crossed it in the wrong direction.
So, to get back on track, I'm revisiting some ground rules that I set for myself a few years back. Overall, they've helped me work hard and achieve my goals, but keep my priorities straight and focus on what's most important.
At the time, I was working 55 hours a week, trying to squeeze in finishing the Accelerated Program wherever I could, and writing very mediocre copy in my spare minutes. Oh, and I had four young kids, two in school and two at home.
The schedule has changed since, but the ideas I still follow may help you maintain that delicate balance, too.
There seem to be three main areas of distractions that can pull you out of whack:
- The phone and email. The simple solution: don't answer the phone during your "office hours" (see # 2 below), and only check email twice a day (maybe at noon and 5 PM). The exception for the phone is client calls you're expecting. Everybody else gets a voice mail message that says, "I'm currently working on a project with a tight deadline, but your call is very important to me … "
Family. Don't get me wrong – my wife and kids are the most wonderful "distractions" in the world. But in order to give them my all when I'm not working, I have to give my work 100% when I'm in my office.
To accomplish this, I post "Office Hours" on my door, so they know when I'm available and when I'm not. To make it even more clear for my kids, a baseball hat on the door means it's okay to come inside and play, and a black fedora (my "work" hat!) hanging on the door means "do not disturb".
Oh, and one other crucial tool – earplugs! Seriously. I can block out the world, lock my office door, and crank on the writing without interruptions.
- Housework and errands. Again, designate certain times for this, and stick to it. But, things will always come up (they always do). With four kids involved in a lot of activities, I do a lot of running around. I carry my iPad, a notebook and a pen with me at all times. I've learned to write in 15-minute chunks, or I wouldn't get anything done.
Bottom line: whether you're working, or spending time with family: Be there. Do you have any advice for keeping your work life in check? Share it with me and your fellow readers by adding a comment below.
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