Mastering a level of balance in a business owner's life is always a juggling act. When you own your own company, you often feel as though you never shut off, and most often you never really do. Not only are you responsible for the day-to-day function of your business, but usually you are the one to replace the toner in the copier, the lightbulbs and do the cleaning as well.
Often we are up early in the morning or staying out after hours for networking events and breakfast meetings with people that we hope will ultimately help our business. Weekends are usually reserved for playing email "catch-up" or working on proposals or paying bills. And even when you're out having dinner with friends, most often you're giving an update on your business, or answering a question about what it's like to run your own business. And of course you never know who you might meet when you're out and about - the person sitting at the table next to you could turn out to be your next client!
But I find having activities and interests outside of work are essential to my sanity and necessary for perspective. I work hard at maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Yes, I have had to make up rules about my blackberry usage - such as not responding to work-related emails after 10pm on weeknights. I only respond to work-related phone calls or emails on weekends that I initiated (unless it's an emergency); and I really only initiate work-related calls and emails on weekends it's truly necessary. But that still doesn't keep me from going to the office on a Saturday or Sunday or from writing up a new marketing plan over the weekend or from just thinking about where my business is going and how it's going to get there. That is a constant.
I recently bought a house in the country. I have spent the last three weeks doing yardwork, taking up old carpet, and hunting for antiques to furnish the place. I have also spent many hours both in and out of the office working during this time. (Hence the gap in my blog entries!) I've met with several prospective new clients, submitted a few proposals and put things in motion for a few new projects. I've counseled staff and provided insights to clients. As well, I have spent a few hours just watching nature and feeding birds. I think that this house is going to be my saving grace amid the hectic-ness of both city living and running a small business. I have learned more about human nature in the past few weeks from meeting all the new people you meet when you buy a home for the first time; and from watching animals interact. I feel as though I've already become more productive by having a vacation home, and hence, a huge escape from everyday life. I can only hope that the pattern sticks and that I can finally have the peace of mind and balance that I so crave.