Is there a danger in loving your work too much? It wasn’t unusual for Thomas Edison to work 20 continuous hours during a 24 hour period. Many times, his 4 hours of rest came in the form of a nap on a couch where he worked. There’s even one recorded time period in which Edison worked for 72 straight hours without rest.
Therein lies the tension. When work feels like play, why choose to do something else with your time?
While I’m a huge believer in loving your work, I also believe there’s more to life than just work. What’s the answer then for those of us who love our work? I think it starts by defining the term workaholic.
A workaholic is someone who has found their sole identity in work alone. I’ve written about this before, but anytime you place your identity in something that has the potential to let you down, you’ll be disappointed. When work becomes the most preeminent thing in your life, everything else begins to take a back seat.
I know this first hand because I’m guilty of it. If you’re an entrepreneur like me, then you know first hand the kind of effort that goes into making a business successful. But here’s what I’ve been asking myself lately: “Is the Thomas Edison way the only way?”
After all, the reason I chose the Lifestyle Business Model was to have more freedom in general. If you remember my story, about two years ago I sat down and wrote out my big WHY. It was four simple statements that formed the word L.I.F.E. (You can read about them here: The Secret Ingredient to Building a Business and Life You Love).
A few months ago, while searching for books to read on my Kindle, I came across a book from Tina Forsyth called: The Entrepreneur’s Trap: How to Stop Working Too Much, Take Back Your Time, and Enjoy Life. I enjoyed the book so much that I challenged my own mastermind group to go through the book. For the last few months, we’ve been sharing insights weekly one chapter at a time.
While Tina delivers many great tips, I want to share with you five of her principles for working less.
- Principle #1: Get clear on your NON-working hours – There are no right or wrong choices here. This is a personal choice. But when would you like to establish non-working hours?
- Principle #2: Step away from your computer – Since I work from home, walking away from my work can be a challenge. One daily practice that has helped me is to close my home office door when I’m done working for the day. This is my way of closing down my business each day.
- Principle #3: Do not have email delivered to your phone – One of the biggest reasons email overwhelms us is because we “check” email without “processing” email. The worst offender for me is checking email on my phone. Since I often can’t take action on that email on my phone, it just stays in my inbox.
- Principle# 4: Learn how to say NO – I’m a people pleaser and it’s hard for me to say no. What I’m learning to do more of is to delay a decision until I can think about it without the emotions attached.
- Principle #5: Have something more compelling to do – This has been the biggest AHA moment for me personally. Since I love my work, I’ll always be drawn back to it. I think it’s healthy to have a few other things in my life that are just as compelling as my work.
How about you? Which personal policies are you going to put in place that allows you to live more, and work less?
Let me start. Even though I have a million things I want to get done today, I’m shutting down my work at noon. I’m driving my two kids to summer camp this afternoon. Life is short and I don’t want to miss out on these moments.