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April 20, 2008

"Tip of the Week" - Try Not To Let Work Get In the Way of Your Life

(UPDATE:  Another great related article by Tejvan Pettinger - The Truth About Money and Happiness)

This article by Tejvan Pettinger discusses how to identify whether or not you are a workaholic.  It is very easy for the solo practitioner to become a workaholic, trust me on this.  I know I can be singularly focused when on a mission and the fallout can be very unhealthy.

Pettinger provides the following list of signs that you are a workaholic:

Are you A Workaholic?

Take a moment to consider the following questions:

  • Is your first thought on waking about work?
  • Is your last thought before sleeping about work?
  • Does work take priority over everything else?
  • Is your social life based around going out with your office colleagues to talk about work?
  • Do you take work home with you at the weekend?
  • Would you struggle to enjoy a 3 week holiday away from work?
  • Is your greatest aim in life to get a promotion and the respect of your work colleagues?

If you can honestly answer 'yes' to a number of these you need to consider making some changes and the article offers some suggestions.

But from the perspective of a solo practitioner it can be daunting.  You are responsible for your own creation, your business.  How it is run, how profitable it is, how you are getting clients, keeping up on the latest technology, mastering skills or learning how to delegate to others are all daunting challenges.  To be able to turn off your brain at the end of the day somehow feels like you are abandoning your 'baby.'  It takes a unique skill to be able to do so without guilt or feelings of trepidation.   

As you are learning the time management skills in the early phase of your solo career, you should be learning not just how to allocate your time for marketing and networking, but also those techniques that help you to shut down and shut off from work.  Without implementing these techniques you are setting yourself up for burnout, ill health, disrupted relationships and other uneccessary problems.

I'm no master of this trick.  I'm still learning how to 'shut every thing down.' 

If you have techniques you have used or face the same struggles, let's discuss it.  Bet we can help a lot of other people, too.


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Although I have been practicing almost 25 years, I started my own law firm about 2 months ago and I can tell you...it is hard to turn it off. Although I have two staff people, I still am responsible for marketing, web, paying bills, client development, oh yea, and fit in practicing law. It is daunting and I know I for one could use any recommendations on how to shut it down. You hit the nail on the head...the success of this firm is all up to me and that's alot to think about.

Susan Cartier Liebel

I read something the other day, in this day and age of entrepreneurs "there is no 'professional life' and 'business life'...there is just LIFE. Maybe if we try to stop separating so much as solos and accept as a solo practitioner life is integrated it won't be such a struggle to achieve that elusive 'balance.' Balance may change from day to day, week to week, month to month. This is just a thought I had because I deal with the same issue.

When I read the above statement it strangely made me feel a little better. This is my LIFE.

David Little

I went solo on January 2, 2008 (I took New Year's Day off - firm holiday). After a few days of getting used to not having a "real" job anymore, I started to unwind. Soon, I vowed that I would never take another job at a firm in order to maintain any particular lifestyle or income level. I have vowed that I would sooner sell my house and move into a cheap(er) apartment than have to give up the freedom and happiness that being on my own has brought. This may sound extreme, but it is no more so than working in a job that makes you miserable but pays a lot.

I don't make anywhere near the money I made last year. I have found that I don't care, either. A lot of what I spent money on before was only to smooth over how unsatisfied I was with my life. I am happy now because I am doing what I want.

As you said, there is no balance between work life and personal life. It is all the same life. Don't feel like you must compromise your fulfillment for material gain.

Tejvan Pettinger

Thanks for the kind words on my two articles! much appreciated

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