Q: This is probably not your everyday question, Jill. I work with addiction clients and my job is extremely stressful. I find when I take time off or when I go on holidays I can’t seem to detach myself from my work. I’m constantly thinking about my client case load and almost feeling guilty for being away at times. I find myself calling the office to check up, just to make sure things are taken care of. What strategies can you provide to help me forget my job and all its accompanying stresses when I’m not on the job?

A: Catherine, thanks for writing in. You are right, I don’t get too many questions about people feeling guilty for taking holidays, but what that tells me is you are extremely passionate about your job. Creating a work-life balance does take practice, but it is something we’ve all got to master, otherwise our personal lives begin to suffer.


Having worked in social services myself, I know how attached to our clients and their often difficult circumstances we can get. Here are some ideas that might be helpful to you.

  • When you are taking time off try to plan something grand; something you can really get into so you don’t find yourself at home thinking about the office. Consider a vacation, reconnecting with friends you haven’t seen in a while, or even picking up a short class to hone one of your hobbies.

  • Update your phone and e-mail messages so everyone knows you are away. Be sure to leave the contacts of your colleagues who will be taking over your workload while you are away. This again takes you away from the mindset of having to return calls and e-mails.

  • I’m sure you’ve already done this, but you can always prepare your clients beforehand about your extended departure.

Work it into any of the activities you plan with them so they are aware prior to your vacation that you are going and they’ll be getting used to a new face for a few weeks. This will also help calm your anxiety and your guilt around leaving them.

Q: Online business is the way to go, but frankly right now I can’t afford a website. Can’t I make the same strides through word-of-mouth and other traditional means?

A: Robyn, word-of-mouth is certainly a tried and true strategy in business. It can get you immediate sales. However, I encourage you to think a little longer about not being online before you decide to forfeit the opportunity. There are certain benefits to online business that you can’t get with word-of-mouth.

Online you’ll have the ability to sell more products and services to a worldwide demographic. Also consider that with online visibility you might be contacted by others with a similar business for potential partnership opportunities that can only increase your brand visibility.

You are right, it’s not always the cheapest method but in the end I think you’ll find it beneficial.

Try connecting with a college internship program. As an entrepreneur you might be able to enlist students to build your site for free as part of their program requirements. There are also plenty of build-it-yourself sites. This will take some dedication, but in the end you’ll save money doing it yourself. Here are some sites that might be helpful: www.esitesbuilder.com, www.4creatingawebsite.com, www.ebizwebpages.com, and www.strategies.cg.ca.

Jill Andrew — CYW, BA, BA (Hons.), BEd. Please include your full name, address and telephone number when e-mailing. All letters are subject to publication.


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