If you’re working in or on a startup or early-stage company, you’d better get used to bringing your work home with you. There are no small roles in a small company, and often you’ll have responsibilities that can’t just be confined to a 9 to 5 work existence.
But 9 to 5 isn’t what you signed up for, anyway. You signed up to work on something you care about, and for that, you’ll need a healthy way to integrate your life and your work.
So the question isn’t whether you’ll ever bring your work home with you. That’s a given. But there is a real question as to how you will handle that work and how you’ll frame it.
Don’t use your nights to “catch up.” Use your nights to get a head start.
This is mostly a matter of framing. You have a large number of regular tasks which will always be ongoing and sometimes piling up. If you frame your night work and weekend work as desperate catchup, you’ll feel very little reward and very little stress relief from the extra work you put in.
Instead, give yourself a pass at the end of the main workday. Close the books on that day, whatever happened. Start ending your day accounting period at 5 or so.
Then go home and write down what needs to happen the next. Even if you’re repeating or continuing things which you failed to finish the day before, spec them out as fresh problems for the next day.
Now you can use your evening to make progress on tomorrow’s problems. Don’t stress. Tell yourself that you don’t have to do any of this. Anything you do tonight will be work to get a head start on what comes tomorrow.
This reframing works wonderfully. It makes night and weekend work less stressful and more optional. It puts you in control and gives the initiative back to you. It makes your overtime work proactive and not reactive. And it builds your achievement balance for the next day before the next day even starts.
With luck, you’ll head into the next day with a cool grasp on the problems at hand and the confidence that comes with knowing you’ve already started the ball rolling to a solution.