We can be our own worst enemies when it comes to finding a balance between work and, well, not work. Here at MOTIF we’re extremely guilty of putting our noses to the grindstone and putting in more hours than we should – we’re a small business and we want to be successful so it’s really easy to justify turning on the laptop at night to scroll through emails and crunch numbers or do some graphic design for a client. It’s a testament to the fact that we enjoy what we do, but when the burnout starts to creep in or when our loved ones start to, not so subtly, voice concerns about the lack of time spent with them, we realize we should probably listen.
One of the practices I’ve implemented recently is unplugging once I get home – although, sometimes I work from home, so I have to set a time for myself to be done for the day. It’s even gotten to a point where I don’t want to look at screens for a few hours during my unwinding time and I’ll spend time in my backyard reading or put a little more effort into making supper. And a big help has been changing my mindset and acknowledging that I don’t need to respond to text messages or emails instantly – if it’s an emergency, that person would have called (I hope).
Another thing that I’ve found beneficial is making sure I get an adequate amount of exercise throughout the week. The time I spend sitting at a computer burning “mental calories” is atrocious, so in order to sleep well at night I have to engage in some physically demanding activity – and I don’t mean hitting the gym five times a week – it’s playing frisbee in the park, going for a bike ride, walking for nine holes of golf, and saying ‘yes’ to that friend who calls to see if you want to play some pickup hockey.
At MOTIF, we’ve started to work on unwritten policies that allow for us to take a step away from work to help our work-life balance. If someone has had a heavy work day and our storefront is open for another hour, we’ll tell that person to take a hike and go home to recuperate. We’d rather have each other refreshed tomorrow than have today’s burnout carry over. I know this policy doesn’t work for a retail or assembly line business, but for us, it’s been quite beneficial. And, if you’ve ever received a call from us to drop off your order on a Friday afternoon in the summer, that basically means that Joel and I are skipping out of work a couple hours early to go skateboarding.
There’s no perfect recipe to ensure that we’re not always working, or not working enough, but we do have to be a little more conscious of what our bodies are telling us. No more working on the computer until you have tunnel vision, no more repetitive motion injuries, taking stretch-breaks, and getting outside for some fresh air throughout the day is a great start to avoid burning out and taking that grief home with you.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get off the computer to enjoy this beautiful weather.