Wednesday, August 13, 2014

JUST SAY NO-How to Be Vigilant About Your "Office Hours"

Monday I had a moment of feeling like a meanie.  Because I needed to go to the medical area on Tuesday for a doctor’s appointment I scheduled a lunch with friends nearby.  And because of the lunch date I booked a morning meeting I could attend along the way. 
I got an email from one of the two friends saying she would need to miss the lunch date due to other obligations. She suggested we simply reschedule for Wednesday.  My other friend chimed in saying-yes-she could also meet on Wednesday.  You know what I said?  I said no.  I told my friends I had scheduled lunch with them intentionally on a day when I would have to be away from my studio.  I had rounded out my day by adding a much-needed business meeting before joining them for lunch.  I told them I was sorry they needed to reschedule, but rescheduling would require me to leave my work two days in a row.  Instead, I offered them some alternate dates based on times when I needed to be out due to other commitments; when it would be convenient for me to meet up with them en route to these appointments.
Now you may think this is rather selfish.  After all in a democracy the majority of the people could meet on Wednesday so I just have to bite my tongue and eat my sandwich, right?

When you own and operate a business it is easy for those around you to forget you 1. Have a Job and 2. Have to Work.  I find this often with my closest friends and family members who contact me throughout the day.  Some are irked when I tell them their interruption is not convenient and I’ll have to get back to them after “work hours”. 

Just because you have the benefit of a flexible schedule doesn’t mean most of your time is free for others to use.  After all, your success is directly based on how much effort you are pouring into your enterprise.  So, here are a few things to remember:
You DO have a Boss.  The Boss just happens to be YOU.

If you worked at a company you would have to answer to the powers-that-be.  You would not be permitted to chat on your phone, text or email whenever a message popped up, run out to meet folks for coffee, lunch or shopping on a whim.  If you did these things it is quite certain you would be fired. 
While you don’t have a boss, you do have someone to answer to: yourself!  Set hours of operation for your business and stick to them.  If necessary provide your work schedule to those around you so they will know when not to bother you.

Respect Your Time & Space
You will be most productive if you carve out a space and a schedule for your enterprise.  Even if you can’t afford a separate studio or office you can claim set times when a shared area of your home is designated for your business.  Make it clear to others what the schedule is and that they are to respect your “zone” during work hours.  If possible, turn off your phone.  Resist temptation to play on the computer, using it only to further your career during hours of operation.  Remember most companies have VERY STRICT policies about internet use during work hours.  You too should adhere to these policies until you are out of the “office”.

Take A Break
This will seem like the opposite of my message, but give yourself time off.  While most people view owning a business as a dream come true, the reality is you actually work more than those who report to a company from 9 to 5.  After all your work essentially never ends; there is always more you can do to further your business.  It can start to feel like your nose never lifts from the grindstone.

This is why a schedule is so vital.  Add to your schedule exercise, rest, and spending time with loved ones.  It is easy to become isolated in your work which can bar you from fresh impressions, ideas and inspirations.  Even taking the time to meet up with friends can provide the benefits of networking, brainstorming and discovering new trends.
So, yes you do have to be vigilant about your work schedule.  But maintain a life of balance!  This will replenish your energy and revitalize your work!