Office hours seems to be a constantly debated thing among small business owners. We seem to be the people that work 80 hours a week with no breathing room. Weekends and nights are often the norm and the idea of normal hours is generally a dream. I know I mentioned this topic in my Self Care For Creative Entrepreneurs post that you can read here. But let me tell you a little more about why I think office hours are so important:
Every company ever has to close sometimes. Minus a few 24 hour store exceptions, places need to close. And even the 24 hour places don't have one single person working 24/7. Your business is allowed to close too. No one works 24/7.
Not Life And Death
Unless your business is literally saving lives, turning the phone off for a Saturday is not going to kill anyone. I know we want to do everything we can for our customers. And I totally get that! Customer service is often the number one thing to set ones business apart from others in their industry. I totally get that and I strive to give the best service I can to my clients. But at the same time, I'm still a one woman show over here (minus some tasks I hire out for, but that's another, soon coming, post.) and I think people will understand when I am not answering their emails at midnight.
Your Business Does Best When You Are At Your Best
If you are working from sun up to sun down you are going to burn out. You may not think so now. You may feel like you have it all under control and you are absolutely rocking the hustle train, but there will be a day where the exhaustion, both physically and mentally is going to get to you. When you are rested and have energy and patience and all the things that come with living a balanced life, your business is going to thrive.
I want to be clear here that I am not saying that you must only work 9-5 and that any other work is wrong. NO. Let's not be legalistic about this. You need to find what works for you and your life and your business. I think it's so easy to get caught up in the excitement of growing our businesses that we work all the time and then realize that one of the reasons we started this business was so we had a little more freedom! And now we find ourselves working more than we did at our job before! Nothing our clients need is life or death.
So here are a few of my suggestions.
Have a weekend that is truly a weekend. If you're a wedding planner or something like that and you know you're going to be working Friday-Sunday then obviously you aren't going to have a Saturday Sunday weekend. But maybe then your work week needs to be Wednesday-Sunday so you have Monday and Tuesday off to recover from the weekend weddings. Or maybe have Wednesday and Thursday off so you're rested and ready for the weddings! Find what works for you and your business! I keep conventional weekends in my business. And I have yet to have anyone complain! No one has died! And I come back to my computer on Monday morning rested and excited to get to work!
As far as actual office hours, set them! This is so important for the productivity of your business as well as your mental well being. For me I tend to work a normal 9-5 schedule. BUT: I HATE grocery shopping on the weekends or after work when it's so busy. So generally one morning a week I grocery shop and that day I will work a little later. And sometimes I have clients in other time zones so our consultations go later than my normal workday. So these things balance out. I generally still try to make sure I don't work more than 8 hours a day. I am working on creating a lasting business and not a business I am going to work so hard at that I resent one day because of burn out. If your work hours are during the kids nap time and after they go to bed, then go for it! But verbalizing your set hours is going to empower you to keep them. This also means cutting out distractions as much as possible during those hours. If you know you're going to work all day while the kids are in school and have your mind set on that already then you are far more likely to get more done that you will if you're doing work here and there all times of the day and week.
I'll be honest, there are times that inspiration for a post strikes at midnight. And I will stay up until 3am working on whatever it is. Or on the weekend I decide I want to work on a soon to be launching course! Life happens, stuff needs to get done, so go for it! But whenever possible, I try to only work on the fun things in those extra times. Not the things that feel like work.
Find what days and hours work for your business and life! And maybe you are still working your 9-5 while building your business so you are doing that late night hustle right now! And hustle is okay for a season. But don't allow that to be the forever norm for your business.
What hours do you keep in your business? Do you allow yourself the freedom to enjoy your weekends? What hours work for you?