Remember when you were in school and there was this sense that you could never fully relax until you’d either completed all assignments or it was winter or summer break? Yeah, welcome to entrepreneurship.
If you’re like me, your “to do” list is like a mogwai sprayed with water. These seemingly innocent tasks have become multiplying gremlins that interrupt your life. Mid-chew at dinner with the family and BOOM “OMG, I didn’t return that email!.” In that really sweet spot on the cusp of sleep and WHAPOW “OMG, I didn’t send that invoice!”
It is easy, way way way easy to just whip out your phone at the table and handle these things. It takes less than 5 minutes. It’ll calm your anxiety. It’ll help you be more present afterwards and you won’t risk forgetting to do it.
BUT, and this is a big but (haha), giving up those 5 minutes at the table or in your bed means more than just 5 minutes of work. It’s a priority violation. It’s a boundary injury. I’m guessing your desire to be in private practice isn’t just a desire for more money. It’s also freedom and time and space to let your life be more of what you want. For many of us that means presence with family, not just physically by mentally and emotionally. Or time for self care, which many of us missed out on while in agency jobs. If you created this business for either of these things, I want to caution you about quickly managing work stuff during off time.
It’s innocuous enough but I assure you, more and more 5 minute snippets will cut into off time. There will likely always be incomplete tasks. The list will rarely be cleared. Part of the personal growth I’ve been working on is accepting that I won’t be able to tie things up with a bow at the end of the day or give myself a gold star for completion at the end of my work week. Does that trigger my perfectionism? Oh yeah. Does is make me anxious? Uh huh. And y’know what? I’ve gotten pretty darn good at sitting with discomfort with all the practice I’ve been getting.
For too long I kept waiting to take care of all the things in order to earn relaxation. In order to earn self-care. Once the to do list was cleared I could watch tv without guilt. Once I achieved Specific Thing #345 I could book a massage. Oh look, work’s calling. I guess I can’t exercise as planned (such a seemingly valid excuse). It’s the adult version of “you can’t play outside until all your homework is done.”
As a result my brain got a bit duller. My vitality suffered. My half-attended family let their displeasure be known.
So here’s a challenge for you: Take your work email off your phone. Take your work-related Apps off, too. Leave your phone in another room when you get home. Leave your computer at work or in your bag. Let home be home. When you’re at work, set up break times to play on the internet or chat with your officemates but let work be work while you’re there. Stay focused at work so home can be home.
Burnout ain’t pretty. If you’re in this for the long game, and I assume most of you are, you have to get practiced at maintaining these boundaries. This profession is beautiful. It is an honor to do what we do. And we can’t pretend that being on the clock 24/7 is sustainable.
How are you maintaining this boundary for yourself? Let us know in the comments.
Allison Puryear is an LCSW with a nearly diagnosable obsession with business development. She has started practices in three different states and wants you to know that building a private practice is shockingly doable when you have a plan and support. After retiring her individual consultation services, she opened the Abundance Party, where you can get practice-building help for the cost of a copay. You can download a free private practice checklist to make sure you have your ducks in a row, get weekly private practice tips, listen to the podcast, hop into the free Facebook Group. Allison is all about helping you gain the confidence and tools you need to succeed.