Ask Score: How to Leave Work at Work

Author: Score 

Running a small business can be the most exciting, challenging, and perhaps even exhilarating experience of one’s life. Amid all the headaches, deadlines, and responsibilities that only you can fulfill, there’s something satisfying about knowing that, at the end of the workday, you did a lot of good work.

That is assuming, of course, your workday ends at all.

Small business owners can and should take their enterprises seriously, leaving no detail to chance or simply assuming something will get done, especially when there’s a deadline involved.

But one can also be over-committed to a small business, to the point of obsession that can damage one’s physical and even mental health, family relationships, and the business itself. It’s one thing to burn the midnight oil when it’s necessary. But done too often, the only thing that gets burned is you.

What an entrepreneur needs is balance—the ability to give 100 percent to the business, and then leave it to give 100 percent to his or her personal life. That’s not always easy to do, especially when you’re starting out or tackling a huge workload. But it can be done. And more importantly, it has to be done.

Here are some tips for leaving work at work—literally and figuratively:

Plan your workday. Make weekly to-do list of administrative, routine, and project-specific tasks, and prioritize them accordingly on a day-to-day basis. This will help improve your daily efficiency and handle things that have to be done by a certain time. Make sure there’s some flexibility for unexpected calls or emails. When you’ve done everything on your list, consider yourself done for the day.

Plan your away time. Set aside several evenings or weekends for family or personal activities, and give them your full attention. Brief “mini-vacations” are also a good way to decompress from work and refresh yourself. Make this time sacred; stow the cellphone, and keep away from email. It’s OK to be responsive to customers, but not at their beck and call.

Share the load.  Small business owners can accomplish some pretty remarkable things, but there are times when there’s just too much for one person to handle. It’s always a good idea to delegate responsibilities to employees, even when the workload is relatively normal. If you’re a one-person shop, identify qualified colleagues for outsourcing extra work. You may miss out on some revenue, but you won’t be compromising the quality you’ve promised your customers.

Cultivate an outside interest. You’ve proven through your small business that you can set and achieve goals. Why not apply that same drive to something that’s fun—a hobby, sport, community activity, a favorite book or TV series, or even something built around relaxation such as yoga or meditation. You’ll feel better, you’ll think better, and you’ll be refreshed to return to the work side of your life.


For more information, contact the local SCORE office in Gainesville @ 352-375-8278, and online @ Or, call/email Doug Crotty, Certified Mentor and Media Contact for SCORE @352-213-2555,

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