Being self-employed and working from home poses a host of challenges, and one of them is the lack of clear boundaries. In the past I’ve touched on some of these — from the need to allow a new work structure to develop to orientating oneself to a different mindset than is required for a 9-to-5 job. Another such boundary – or in this case, lack thereof – is the one missing between “work time” and recreation time.”
When your primary passion is sports, as is the case with me, and your business is starting a sports website, the boundary is essentially obliterated. If I’m watching a college basketball game at this time of year, even if I’m not officially working, I’m observing and my mind is starting to spin with ideas for commentaries. The same goes if I’m reading an article on ESPN.com or listening to a podcast. It’s fun, but it’s also work.
Of course there’s the obvious flip side to that as well. When I sit down each morning to research my daily commentaries, there’s an excitement and interest there that’s never existed in any prior endeavor. I suppose, all things being equal, I wouldn’t choose to take notes on the shooting percentages of the San Antonio Spurs’ bench players if I wasn’t trying to do this for a living. Nor would I choose to start taking notes on any of this stuff before reading the Tom Clancy novel I’m in the middle of. It really is work, but it’s also fun.
I find the biggest challenge comes mentally. I’m very accustomed to a clear boundary existing telling me when I’m at work and when I’m not, and crossing the boundary was like flipping a light switch. Without the light switch, it becomes easy for mental fatigue to set in.
A part of the answer has been to just establish a new boundary. I find myself instinctively starting to relax when I watch a movie or any of my favorite TV shows. But another part involves cognitive reformulation. Instead of looking at my to-do list and saying “I have to do write an article on Big East basketball, an article on the Bulls and update the videos,” it’s important to reframe and say I have the opportunity to do all the above.
Everyone wants the chance to do what they love most for a living, and being single is the best time to work on issues like these. It’s easier to deal with issues like setting new boundaries and cognitive reformulation when you’re by yourself, as opposed to trying to work it all out while building a marriage or having kids running around the house. It certainly can be done in those circumstances, as people who are married start ventures every day. But the opportunity is never more doable than when you have only yourself to tend to.