In the Trenches: How to Stop Working So Much
Last week I wrote about the importance of an inviting workspace. This week, it’s time to talk about the perils of making it too inviting. That’s right. If you work at home, you probably work too much. I certainly do, and that’s not something that’s sustainable over long periods of time.
When I had a separate room in my house as an office, it was fairly easy to separate work from home. When I left my room, work was over. Sure, I’d have to go back in at night sometimes, but there was clear separation. That all changed when my office needed to relocate (along with everything else) into our temporary family room during construction.
When that happened, I never finished working. Theoretically, I would pick a time of day and move over to the couch from my desk. That’s never what happened. Instead, my wife would come in and watch TV, and I could just keep working. After all, I could watch TV with her and still sit at my desk to get a jump on the next day. The only problem with that was that I never actually caught up.
It’s always tempting to get a jump on tomorrow, but then you’re always trying to get ahead. It’s a game you can’t win, but it always seems like a good idea. It seemed especially smart since I was already working in the same room as I’d be spending my evenings anyway. The result, however, is that I work 12-plus hours every day and I never actually come down and relax. Sure, I can fall asleep without trouble every night, but it’s more of a collapse from exhaustion than a proper sleep.
Constant working is something that can be sustained for some time, but it can’t go on forever. And the placement of my desk is causing problems in that regard. So, once the work on our house is finished up (very soon), I will once again go back to having a separate office. As an entrepreneur, I can never fully switch things off at a certain time, but I need to start setting limits and only responding to emergencies after hours. That will be much easier to do once I can actually leave the office at the end of the day.
Brett Snyder is President and Chief Airline Dork of Cranky Concierge air travel assistance. Snyder previously worked for several airlines, including America West and United, before leaving to create a travel search site for PriceGrabber.com. Snyder did his undergrad at George Washington and earned his MBA from Stanford.