Setting Boundaries

One of the most difficult things that you have to do if you’re a Casual Marketer is getting your work-life balance sorted out.

If you have a job with a certain level of responsibility it’s very easy for your work to bleed into your personal time.  Things like iPhones and iPads make this a much bigger problem because even when you’re not actively working, you make yourself accessible.  How many times have you found yourself checking Facebook or browsing movies on Netflix only to realize that you’re now reading an email from Tom in Accounting about the latest expense report?

I remember a time when companies actively debated whether or not they would actually buy mobile devices for even senior staff.  We now have most companies formulating BYOD (bring your own device) policies because staff are happy to go out every year or two, spending a grand on their own mobile phone and use it for work.

This blurring of the line between home and work poses a very serious set of issues for people who want to build their own business or do their own projects in the hours outside work.

Family Comes First

First things first, family time.  I can’t stress enough that you need to ensure that you make time to be there and be present for the people closest to you.  Your job will take its pound of flesh for eight hours a day, at least five days per week.  You’re going to probably sleep six to eight hours every day as well.  When you factor in commuting, showering and all the other time eating essentials, you probably have four or five hours left.  Make sure that your family get their fair share of that time!

This is something I’ve struggled with over the years.  When I used to run the SaaS business, I was easily working ten to twelve hours per day.  Some days I would wake up and go to work at 7am, get home when everyone was in bed at 11pm and still put in an hour or two of email before bed.  Toss in pretty severe sleep apnea and this basically meant when I wasn’t working, I was a sleepy, cranky zombie that didn’t pay attention to what was going on around me.  Luckily for me, I noticed it and put an end to it myself.

When it comes to your business, you have to ensure that your passion doesn’t get the better of you, you really need to set boundaries.  I know when you’re excited and motivated that you’re going to struggle to follow this advice, but I can tell you that if you’re working crazy hours at night and weekends atop everything else, you won’t be doing your best work.

Again, I’ve learned this lesson the hard way.

A Typical Day In The Life Of Sean

Let me share my day with you.  I generally leave home around 8:30am to get to work for 9am.  I work until 5pm or thereabouts and head home.  I’m lucky, I have a 15 minute commute so I don’t tend to waste much time standing around or riding a bus.  Once I’m home I relax for an hour before dinner, a bit of TV with my wife, chat with my son about his day and then around 8pm, I do an hour or two of work on my own stuff before ending my day.  Usually across both days on a weekend, I’ll put in 8-10 hours on my projects.

The key is setting your expectations and being realistic about what you want to get done and can actually deliver.  When I started Casual Marketer, I had this very clearly in mind because I didn’t want to overcommit.  For the first three or four months, I would only commit to doing the monthly newsletter, a daily email and that’s it.

I had ideas for not one, but two podcasts, a membership site with some video training courses, a second book and a plethora of other ideas.  All of them excellent ideas that I fully intend on doing, but all requiring time to not only create but manage as well.  I wrote them down, thought about them a fair bit and then I pencilled them in for things to start doing in April, May, June and beyond.

Establishing Your Boundaries

Again, it’s about setting boundaries for yourself.  To meet all of my commitments to my family, my employer, my Casual Marketer subscribers and our service business clients, I had to make sure I established a rhythm and didn’t overload and overwhelm myself.  To give myself the greatest chance of success, I needed to ensure that everything was working properly before embarking on new tasks.

This has been a massive reason for the success of Casual Marketer so far in my opinion.  I’ve not killed myself with work and I’m not beating myself up about things not getting done.  I set reasonable expectations for myself and I’m putting the work in to get things done.

You have to remember this for yourself.  You’re just one person, you need to have the time to fulfill your commitments, enjoy your family and have some rest and relaxation time for yourself.  Whatever is left over after all those things are accounted for is your project time.

I was sitting in a cafe one day and the waiter was running around like crazy cleaning tables, taking orders and delivering food.  This older gentleman at the table next to me said to him, “You should relax and take a rest.”  The waiter laughed and said, “I’ll have plenty of time to rest when I’m dead.”  Right away, as quick as a whip, the older man said to him, “That day might come sooner than you think if you keep that pace up.”

That resonated with me and it’s something I think about fairly regularly.  I’m doing Casual Marketer and my other projects because I enjoy them.  If I turn them into a hassle or drive myself too hard, then I’ll lose the passion and the interest and it will become like a second job.  I don’t need that, so I set boundaries.

Think about that when you’re frustrated that you don’t have enough time to work on your business and you start sacrificing sleep, relaxation or family time to try and fit it all in.

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