Article in brief: the author discusses the importance of making a clear distinction between home and work when starting up a small business.
It’s so easy for your small business to take over your life. In fact, as I mentioned in a couple of earlier articles, for a long while, when it starts up, it is your life. Your business is also your baby and you become fiercely protective of it. In light of that, it’s extremely easy to always be working; in the business, on the business, and for the business. If you don’t pay attention, your work will spill over into your personal life and will take over what should be your prioritized free time. That’s where the trouble begins.
Owning a business is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it grants you the “flexible schedule” so many people covet. But on the other hand, it becomes your life and work responsibilities never end once before it’s 6pm. When I first opened Spontiphoria, I noticed that the “flexible work schedule” everyone seems to envy in business owners isn’t really all what it seems. My work responsibilities took over my life and structured my day- on many instances in the early days, I had no control over how my day was planned. I was constantly on call dealing with initial crises and teething issues. Now that systems have been in place a while, things are finally less frantic and hectic and I do get to experience some of that flexibility. The best thing about it is obviously working during the hours that I want and at a location that I choose. However, that could also be trouble.
Because I run a small business and I make up the accounting, marketing, purchasing, managing the “departments” involved in running it, my office is me. I take my office wherever I can and if I can squeeze in a couple of hours of work on a lazy Friday afternoon, then I do that. If it’s 10pm and I’m not that sleepy yet, why shouldn’t I spend that time being productive and getting a head-start on next week’s tasks? It’s so easy to get caught up in all your entrepreneurial responsibilities that the line between work and home becomes increasingly blurred. But then, once in a while you will have that moment of external clarity, and you will wonder if working so much is really worth it when you’re not doing the simple things in life you really enjoy. What are you waiting for? If you keep putting it off till next month or next year, it will never happen. Live in the moment and be aware.
It is so important to be mindful and to realize when you are working on what should otherwise be “leisure time”. Despite the fact that productivity and success are defined by how many hours you’ve worked, leisure time is necessary and it’s healthy both for you and your business.
No matter how difficult it may be, try to set working hours for yourself. Have a cut-off point. If it’s 7pm and all you want to do is read a book and curl up on the couch, then do that! There’s nothing that can’t wait till tomorrow. A new day and a fresh outlook works wonders for productivity. Try to set boundaries and stick to them. Incentivize yourself to do so. When you make the decision that you only have till a certain hour to finish today’s tasks, it will also help you be more efficient in your work because you will be working towards that target.
The first few months of a business are extremely exhausting but also rewarding. As such, implementing such a work/life balance will not be that easy in the beginning. But have a structure from the outset and consistently try to reach it. When you cross that bridge when things are stabilized and running by themselves then adopting a proper work schedule (even if it’s from home) will be easier to do.
Sidiqa is 25 years old and is half-Emirati and half-Pakistani. She has a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the American University of Sharjah and a Master’s degree in Conflict Prevention, Sustainable Peace, and Security from the University of Durham in the UK. Sidiqa owns and manages the boutique-café concept store “Spontiphoria” in Wasl Square, Jumeirah.