For years I’ve killed myself trying to find the perfect balance of working without driving myself into the ground.
When I work too much I feel like I’m missing out on time with my family and when I’m not working I feel like I’m falling behind the people who grind themselves for 12 hours a day.
It’s only recently that I realized success is about more than just working A LOT. It’s about working smarter.
Today I work 35(ish) hours a week. Monday through Friday between 7am and 3pm but sometimes done a little earlier.
But weekends still give me fits. Two FULL days without working on my business? It’s hard to process at times. In fact, the whole idea of a 5 day work week is very new. Even just two years ago, before my son was born, I was working 6 or 7 days a week, often watching TV, taking odd breaks and ensuring I had no time for anything else.
It was inefficient, even if I was very productive in my efforts.
His birth and my wife going back to school made it necessary to create a schedule that worked and that forced me to be more productive. I doubt there are many people who get AS MUCH done in as little time as me, and I still make it a goal to shave off a few hours here and there every month or two.
But, weekends are still tough.
At least half of one day I take Jack out on the town (longer when it’s warmer) and in two weeks my wife is back to school with a full day of classes on Sundays, but going 60 hours without doing ANYTHING for the business? That’s tough.
So, here are a few things I’ve done to feel productive on weekends without actually going into “work mode”:

  • Email Embargo – No email. This is the number one biggest problem I face and it’s a headache. As an online business owner, a LOT of my clients email me over the weekend. I have to pretend I’m not here and yet get back to them quickly if it’s urgent. I check my email once on Saturday and once on Sunday – that’s it. If something actually urgent pops up, I trust people to call. It doesn’t always work, but nothing has melted down yet.
  • Blog Posts – The one big task I perform each weekend is my blogging for the week. I set aside 2 hours every Sunday morning (soon to be Saturday morning) and write 3-5 posts for the week. It’s a good habit because I feel productive but it’s not really work and I get a bit of mental distance from the work so I can relax and enjoy it.
  • Reading Something – If I’m feeling particularly antsy, I’ll grab a book from my stack and take a few notes. Usually 20 minutes or so makes me feel plenty productive. Heck, even just an audio book is often enough to get over the work jitters.
  • The Four Day Weekend – This is the first year I’ve successfully taken off the holidays without being buried in work. It’s been nice. As a result, I learned that taking a 4 day weekend supercharges me for the first day back. On those weekends (which I’m now scheduling every 2-3 months) I do NOTHING. No writing. No blogging. No reading. Just relaxing and enjoying the $0.45 in electricity I save by leaving the computer off for 96 hours.

It’s not perfect and I still find myself distracted by the computer for far too long at certain times of day, but on the whole, I’m getting more done, enjoying the time in which I’m NOT doing things and spending lots of time with the family – it’s a good system.