shutting it down

There is a big vacuum in my living room. It sucks me in if I come near it. It “dings” at me to let me know I’ve got new messages. It teases me with the opportunity to shut out my four year old’s never ending supply of questions, or my toddler’s endless teething pains. And we won’t even talk about the temptation of Facebook!

It’s the computer.

This week tip: You’ve got to set boundaries. Know when it is time to work and time to play, and know when to shut it down.

Trying to start a business is consuming. There is always something that needs to be done and always the nagging feeling that if you don’t do it your business is going to fail. I could work nine hours a day on Cheeky Maiden Soap and never run out of things to do. But that would sort of be missing the point of being a Work At Home Mom, right? I work from home because I believe it is vitally important that I am investing in my children’s lives for more than just a couple of hours a day. I don’t want strangers to raise them and teach them about the world. I work from home because I enjoy working for myself, and honestly don’t respond well to being told what to do. (Shocking, I know.) Working from home also fits in with my beliefs about the way that God designed the family to operate best.

Up until recently, I didn’t have set working hours. I worked all the time. Here a little, there a little. It was difficult to know when I should be spending time with my kids and when it was okay to let them watch a quick video so I could answer emails. Some days I would get sucked into the mass of email in my inbox before I even had a chance to make breakfast!  Other days I would get so caught up in their cuteness or what was on t.v. that night that not much work would get done at all and I would get behind.

Things have changed. I have a set time for answering business emails. I have a set time for filling orders. I have a set time to make soap, and it is all designed around my family’s daily routine to fit in so naturally that I usually don’t notice I’m even following a schedule.

When I finish checking my email and I click on “Shut Down” I feel so satisfied…and excited! I’m excited that it’s not work time anymore! I can go outside and blow bubbles, bake bread with my four year old, or lay down and take a nap without any concern of how many orders have come in or who emailed with questions, etc. 

There is a black screen and no hum of an idle computer waiting to entertain me. It’s liberating. 

Put your work away when it is play time! If it’s not the computer, but something else that lures you- put it away- out of site! Make it inconvenient to have to get it out again or turn it on again. If all I have to do is plop down and jiggle the mouse to read new messages, I’ll do it every time I walk past the computer with the thought of “Oh, I’m just going to check…” But really I end up sitting there for 30 minutes. If I know that I have to sit down, turn on the computer, wait for it to boot up, and then open my email client, wait for emails to download, etc., I’m way less likely to even start the process.

Set reasonable, realistic times for yourself to work in and stop when that time is over with. You won’t get burnt out and your work will be more purposeful and accurate.