Keeping Your Business and Personal Lives Separate
Unless you’ve had your head buried in the sand, you’re likely aware of the push to “go mobile” in today’s business world. The latest technologies make it easier than ever to stay connected while on the go. Laptops, cell phones, and tablets are growing smaller and lighter, and many companies are now offering these devices to employees, or encouraging them to use their own, so they’ll be able to take their work with them outside the office. This can be a boon for people who travel consistently for their job or enjoy telecommuting, but like many technological advancements, the trend comes with an unforeseen side effect.
For some, including small business owners, it may become difficult to separate one’s personal identity from one’s mobile identity. For instance, you may find yourself relaxing at home with your family around the dinner table, but still checking your work email on your phone. So how can you balance work life and home life when you use the same technology to call a business meeting and look up a dinner recipe? Here are some tips and advice.
Consider the problem
You may think that merging your work and personal lives is not necessarily a bad thing, but there are issues that may arise when these worlds collide. Most small business owners work long hours, which often translates into stress during the nine to five. While some people work well under pressure, the end of the work day should mean a time to relax and recover from stress. It can be difficult, if not impossible, to take time to recuperate after work if you are using technology to keep an eye on business at all hours.
Divide your time
The first step to breaking this work/home conflict is to create a strict schedule for yourself. It may feel odd to set aside certain hours for “personal time,” but if you can no longer count on a concrete end to your work day, it may be a necessary move. You can use the alarm on your work devices to remind you that it’s time to switch off your smart phone or tablet and focus on personal time. If you work from home, it’s important to set up a “business space” that you can either close off or clean up. Often, an “out of sight, out of mind” approach is best, so find an empty drawer where you can store your work devices while you’re relaxing or spending time with family.
Unfortunately, small business owners are often unable to shut off their devices entirely, as they need to be on hand around the clock if a work issue arises. Many people choose to purchase more than one device, so that they can have one entirely devoted to work, but this can be both expensive and complicated. Instead, these individuals can look into getting an additional phone number for their work contacts, so that they’ll know right off the bat if a phone call or text is business-related or personal.
It’s a two-way street
Remember that while it’s important to keep business at the office, it’s also essential to make sure that personal matters stay at home. Allowing your personal life to influence your work day via your mobile devices will mean you’ll have to make up those lost minutes or hours later on. A second mobile number can help you manage personal calls and block them from coming in during work hours, if necessary.
It may be tempting to try and juggle your work and home life simultaneously, but as technology continues to advance, its important for small business owners and their employees to make a conscious effort to keep their business from interfering with their personal life, and vice versa.