Business Tips

How To End Your Workday When You WFH And Run A Creative Business

One of the big themes of 2020 was how many people ended up having to work from home. While being able to work from home has been a desired perk for many, many got their wish last year, but with some added challenges that probably wasn’t what they imagined WFH would be like. Like everyone else in their household would also be home too. 

Whether you’ve been WFH for years or it’s a new thing for you, shutting off from work can be difficult, especially if you don’t have a office space you can dedicate just to work that also has a door.

And even if you do have a dedicated workspace, work often pops up throughout the day like notifications on your phone (“Hey, you got a sale!”) or on social media. It doesn’t take much to pull you back into work.

If we don't actually disconnect from work (even if we love what we do), we don't give our minds the proper break it needs to decompress after working so you can feel recharged and refreshed the next day. Working off and on throughout the day also can keep us preoccupied and distracted which can impact our relationships, our sleep and other activities in our lives. 

“You didn’t leave your 9-to-5 to open a 24/7.”

When you’re working for yourself, it’s up to you when you stop working. 

I got an email the other week from Jasmine Williams who helps creatives transition into freelancing.

In her email she was talking about how we’re shifting into a new normal this year, especially when we’re talking about this whole work-life balance.

If you work for yourself, it’s great being able to do what you want, when you want. However, it can be a slippery slope because your work life can blur easily with your personal life.

The quote in her email that really hit me was when she said, “You didn’t leave your 9-to-5 to open a 24/7.”

Oof, that made a lot of sense.

Just because you CAN, doesn't mean you should.

Just because you CAN work anytime of day when you work for yourself, doesn’t mean you should. 

Just because you CAN work weekends or evenings, doesn’t mean you should. 

Just because you CAN work 10 hour days, doesn’t mean you should.

Finding a work schedule that works for you and your life takes some time to figure out and even then, it can keep changing because of other priorities in your life.

When you work for yourself, you’re no longer held to the “I need to work 40+ hours” mindset that generally comes with a regular job. You get to decide when you start and stop work. And when you take time off. 

But sometimes it’s hard to actually stop working.

One of the things I found myself doing over the past year was working later and later into my dinner time which was proving to be a problem. This happened often if I didn’t get much done during the day or I didn’t complete all of my to-do tasks. Of course no one was telling me I HAD to keep working, but it was hard to get myself to actually stop.

But when I did, I realized going straight from working to prepping for dinner left me feeling unable to focus and feeling anxious because my brain was still in work mode. 

So I decided I need to first, set a time to stop working and second, to do something relaxing to get out of work mode.

Transitioning after work

When I was working my corporate job, I’d hop on the bus or the train and head home or to the gym for a workout. This 45-60 minute commute gave me time to mentally and physically shift out of work and into my non-work life. 

While I no longer have a commute between work and home, I realized I needed to incorporate a transition time into my routine to signal to my brain “Hey, it’s time to stop working.” Because if I didn’t, I’d keep sneaking in work the rest of the evening and continually feel distracted and stressed.

So once 5pm hits, I do one or more of the following to relax and decompress from work:

  • Do some yoga
  • Go on a walk around the neighborhood
  • Meditate
  • Read a book
  • Watch something on YouTube not work related

Once I started doing this, I was honestly really surprised what a few minutes did to help me unwind from the workday.

Sometimes I spend 30 minutes transitioning. Other times it’s only 5 or 10 minutes. Sometimes I forget to transition or I work later till 5:30pm or 6pm. I’m human after all and my schedule changes. But for the most part, I do my best to stop working at a reasonable time and take some time to relax.

A few bonus tips to help you disconnect from work:

  • Turn off email and business related app notifications on your phone
  • Shut down your computer when you’re done with work
  • Put away any projects or work you have out
  • Disconnect from social media 
  • Write out your to-do list for the next day
  • Dedicate a time when you'll stop working and do your best to stick to it

Working from home has its challenges, but if anything, it’s reminded me how important it is to remember to stop working and that just because you work however many hours you want, it doesn't mean you should.

So how do you disconnect from work? Let me know in the comments below.