This weekend, I did something unprecedented in the 2.5 year history of my business: I took a weekend off. Well, if you consider running 20 miles a weekend off. But seriously, I didn't return a single email. I didn't read any blogs, work on any proposals or fret about unfinished business. In fact, I barely even cracked the laptop.
Why? Because I needed to establish some boundaries. When you're an entrepreneur with a home-based business, there's no separation between personal and professional. I work at the same table where we eat our meals (if I get the chance to clean it off, which isn't as often as it should be). I'm surrounded by dishes that need washing, floors that need vacuumming, a dog that needs walking, laundry that needs folding--the work never ends. And my attempts at "multi-tasking"--which has basically meant half-assed efforts at relaxing, working, housekeeping and relationships, sometimes simultaneously--are leaving me exhausted, burned out and frustrated.
I used to leave work, get in a run or a Pilates class, then come home for a nice dinner and a glass of wine, watch a favorite show on television or read several chapters of a book. Now, the lines are blurred. Most evenings, you'll find me returning emails, reading articles online, eating my dinner, all while engaging in 20 Twitter conversations and trying to watch the latest episode Gossip Girl. My work is suffering. My health is suffering. My relationships are suffering. Why? Because I have no boundaries. Because I'm not fully committed to one task. Because I mistakenly believe that I can "do it all."
No more. Thanks to the encouragement of the very wise Sarah Robinson, I'm drawing a line in the sand. Establishing boundaries. Pilates and yoga classes are as sacred as marathon training. They are appointments to be kept, not activities to squeeze in. Meals are a time for fellowship and conversation. They are to be savored, not shoveled down between emails and snippits of Jeopardy. Work time is sacred. No more emails stating "I'm free all day on Thursday," only to end up with 12 hours of meetings, calls and running around town when I should be attending to client needs. No more free brain-picking sessions. More reading. More time with people I care about. More dreaming. More play breaks with my dog. More time outdoors. More of the things that I truly value and care about in life.
How do YOU set boundaries in your work and life?