The long weekend was here…and I had no choice but to lock my office door.  This is because I have very little willpower, and absolutely have to manage my behaviour like a child sometimes (a failing that I KNOW I have).

I often joke that my office is like a Vortex…and every time I walk past it, I get sucked in…Thinking to myself “I’ll just do such and such” tends to lead to a couple of hours in the office.

I think this is probably something fairly common for people with home-based businesses.

You see, the convenience of not having to travel to a separate office is fantastic, but there is ALWAYS a trade-off for such things…in this case, work/life balance.

I’m a huge advocate for setting boundaries and prioritising down-time (for family, friends, and just recharging) – but it is much easier to “talk-the-talk” than “walk-the-walk”.  Especially when one of the biggest benefits of being a small, home based business is that you are a bit more flexible than the larger, corporate type firms…and clients actually EXPECT that higher level of accessibility.

Take this long weekend for example.  I finished work at 6pm on Friday – but my phone rang at about 6.30pm … then it rang again on the Saturday morning at 8.58am … then again at 9.06am … THEN AGAIN at 7.53pm on the Sunday night (I answered this one, because the office phone rang first, and then my mobile…so I was a bit worried it was important.  It really wasn’t).  I am looking through my phone log, which is how I know when these calls were – I deliberately ignored them, because it was a long weekend, and realistically…what ACCOUNTING emergencies can there really be?  The ATO isn’t even open, so there is not very much I could sort out over the weekend, and with busy time just starting to subside I really do need some down time.

The stakes are high when you work for yourself.  There is no safety net…I do it, or it doesn’t get done.  No sick days, very few opportunities for holidays and breaks, and no one to pick up the slack.  I pride myself on GREAT customer service, on flexibility, and on delivering something you just can’t get from the bigger businesses (as well as trying to do it all for a better price, too).  The point that is often missed, though, is that running a business for yourself is supposed to afford you a better lifestyle.  That’s the payoff for the risk (rather than just turning up to work and getting paid) and the additional stress.

SO – if I take on the risk and stress, but never get time with my hubby & kids, or to sit on the couch, or even just do nothing…what is the point?  If I work myself to death, or end up a mental case, there really has been no benefit at all….right??!!?!??!  THAT is why it is so important to get some Work/Life balance going.

It’s a bit of a sad indictment of my personality that I have to lock my door…but I kid you not – it is exactly what I have to do EVERY NIGHT.  I have a rule that, when the door is locked, I can’t unlock it until the next (work) day.  During busy time the locking is often late (sometimes VERY late), and occasionally I work weekends just to get through what I need to without interruptions, but it really is essential to take some time out from the business.

Do you?  If not, you really need to – you don’t want to look up from the computer (or tools) to find you’re kids are all grown up and you missed out…or that your spouse has had enough and gone to have a real life…and you also don’t want to get to retirement age and see all the nice toys you have bought with your labours, just to find you are too frail (or a mental case) to enjoy them.

RECALIBRATE – you need to look at your business as a tool to getting the Lifestyle you want…but your business is NOT YOU. It shouldn’t envelope you, and it shouldn’t sap everything from you.

Get some Balance – even if you have to Lock the Doors every now and then!