If you work from home, and for yourself, you’ll know that one of the biggest challenges you can face every single day is getting the right balance between working all night and day, or sitting around with a complete lack of motivation and being unable to lift a finger.
It’s a very common complaint for business owners that they seem to veer from one extreme to the other when it comes to organising their time properly, making sure that they get everything done, while also ensuring that they switch off when they need to, to get a proper work/life balance.
It seems to me that there are three types of online entrepreneur out there.
The first is the workaholic, who spends every waking hour, day and night, grafting at his or her PC in an effort to make their business the most profitable, the most successful and the most lucrative.
The second is what I think of as being the ‘Daytime TV’ business owner.
These are the people who have fantastic intentions every day, and yet always seem to end up spending their time doing anything but working, until their family return home from school or work and they get a sudden mad flurry to get everything done and look as if they’ve been productive.
The third type of person is probably the one most common to all of us.
This is the ‘see saw’ type, who goes from one extreme to the other.
Some days, or even weeks and months, they’ll be completely focussed on work to the extent that they can’t think of anything else.
Suddenly, after they’ve managed to burn themselves out, they end up veering off to the other extreme and sit with no motivation for a long period of time, trying desperately to get back to that state of mind where they can achieve again.
Do any of these three types sound familiar to you?
I thought so!
Here’s my strategy for overcoming the pitfalls which come along with each of the three character types, to make sure you work to your best capabilities, without risking burnout…
For the Workaholics
Admit it – at some point or another since you started your online business, you’ve been guilty of being a workaholic.
These are the times when all you can think about is your latest venture, or getting that next training course under your belt, or achieving more sales, getting more customers, or re-launching your products and services.
Suddenly, nothing else seems important but work, and your family start to joke that they’d need to take you to a surgeon to get your laptop amputated if they ever hope to spend any time with you again!
While it’s pretty natural to get fired up about your business, especially when you work for yourself and you’re the one accountable for its success or failure, it’s also really important to make sure that your passion doesn’t eclipse every other aspect of your life.
For example, if you find yourself cancelling a family trip out, or lying to get out of a social engagement because you want to publish just one more post, it’s probably time to rethink your approach.
Remember what’s really important to you, and the reasons why you wanted to set up your own business in the first place, to give you an incentive to cut down your working hours to a reasonable time and focus on family, friends and leisure interests too.
For the Daytime TV Addicts
When you work for yourself, it can be truly tempting to walk away from your business and spend time enjoying a few days doing hobbies and interests instead of working.
However, if you find that you are wasting time every day because of a lack of motivation, you need to find a way of getting your passion back and understanding what is getting between you and a successful business.
Often, people can become lethargic or de-motivated because of something as simple as a lack of routine.
Download a reputable calendar and divide your day up in to simple chunks of time, with activities allocated to each, to make sure you stay on track.
Ban distractions like television or household chores if you work from home, and set up a work schedule that mirrors what you would be doing if you reported in to a boss.
Just because you don’t have to report in to a senior member of staff doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibilities – in fact, you are much more accountable when you run your own business than you would be if you worked for an organisation.
By recognising the triggers behind your lack of motivation, and putting a plan in place to combat distractions, you’ll be able to get your business back on track and find the energy to be productive once more.
For the See Saw Personalities
Some people seem to swing between two extremes at all times.
For a few weeks, when an interesting project comes along, they can throw themselves in to their business and go hell for leather to achieve their goals.
Once the project is over, however, they find themselves slipping in to a fog of apathy and can’t seem to bring themselves to get motivated again.
If you have this type of ‘see saw’ approach to your business, it’s important to recognise what triggers each phase, and what really motivates you.
If you get excited by new projects, think of ways that you can maintain a steady enthusiasm by introducing a few new things in to each working day.
If you burn out because you’ve worked too hard when the passion grabs you, try pacing yourself so that you can be consistently productive without neglecting other aspects of your life such as friends and family.
No matter what your work personality is like, it’s important to recognise your approach and put in place a strategy to maintain a steady, balanced home working schedule.
Sometimes, sitting back and considering how you’ve worked over the past (say) three months can give you real insight in to your usual approach, and help you get the distance you need to analyse your working patterns and develop some really strong mechanisms to keep you working at a steady pace all day, and then switching off your PC each evening to kick back and relax for a while!
So…are you a workaholic or daytime TV addict or see-saw?
Please share your views in the comments below.