How tradies can separate work from play

For a tradie – and especially for someone running their own trade-related business – the concept of working regular hours is often a foreign one. In your efforts to help out your customers as much as possible, you can end up working early mornings, late nights, and even on the weekends. Whatever you have to do to fit to a customer’s schedule, help out in an emergency, or get that job finished on time.

Even though you more than likely love what you do, not keeping to a regular routine can take its toll - especially on your ability to balance your work life and your social life. How do you know when to accept that job, or when to draw the line? How far do you bend in making sure your customers get the very best service?

We’ve put together 4 practical methods that tradies can put in place to separate work from play. 

1. Learn to switch off

When you’re away from work, being able to switch off is a good skill to master. This can be easier said than done though, especially when your small business is your pride and joy – not to mention the need to keep your business “in the black” too. Staying off the radar the entire time you’re away from work is impractical, but setting aside blocks of time where your smartphone, email notifications, and other distractions are turned off can be really beneficial. And not just for your productivity, but for your health and wellbeing too. Numerous studies have indicated that blue-light emitting devices, such as a smartphone or laptop, can impact the sleep inducing chemical melatonin, which can make it harder to get to sleep or lessen the quality of sleep you do get.

Make sure you respect the blocks of down time you set aside – particularly around bed time – and don’t “cheat” by checking your phone or responding to an email, instead take the time to unwind, relax, and do something you enjoy doing (that doesn’t involve fixing a busted pipe or completing an electrical inspection). At the very least, be sure to switch your phone off 30 minutes before going to sleep to ensure you wake up rested and ready to tackle the next day.  

It can also be really helpful to know you’re covered in case anything goes wrong, providing you the kind of peace of mind that’ll allow you to stop worrying when you’re away from work (and while you’re there too, for that matter). There’s even business insurance for tradies, which is designed specifically for the unique needs of those working in trades-related businesses.

2. Don’t be afraid to delegate

One of the most important lessons small business owners can learn is to be OK with delegating. Particularly as your business grows, it’s good to know that you can trust others to take on tasks on their own, without you having to be involved and potentially overextend yourself in the process.Some business owners can be hesitant to hand over the reins of a project, particularly with concerns that a worker may make a mistake and put your business in jeopardy. You can counterbalance this by making sure you only delegate to individuals you trust, and with tasks you are confident they can do. With Public Liability Insurance, you can also make sure you’re protected if, for example, your worker does something that causes damage to the property of, or personal injury to, a customer, and your business is found legally responsible.

3. Take holidays

We know, being away from the business can be stressful – and costly. But you should still make time to take a break every now and then. You can’t possibly bring your best effort to work if you’re burnt out, so, in the long run, taking holidays can really benefit your business. Some small business owners wear their lack of holidays like a badge of honour, saying things like “I’ve been so busy I haven’t taken a holiday in over 3 years!” If this sounds like you, then perhaps it’s time to bring someone onboard to help. Or at the very least, identify when is a typical slow time of year for your business, then put on your email auto-responder and take a break. Your business’ dependency on you should be the reason you take a break, not an excuse to not take one. After all, getting sick or burnt out because you’re overworked can have an even greater impact than if you took a break in the first place.

And remember, when you’re on vacation, you’re actually on vacation. No checking your emails, no calling your workers back home – you need to allow yourself to relax and lean into ‘play’ time away from work.

4. Stick to a plan

When it comes to the day to day running of your business, you know how important it is to have a plan in place. You probably also know how easy it can be to have that plan completely derailed. It just takes one task taking longer than expected, or one phone call with an urgent request, and next thing you know your day is completely out of whack.

While you need to be flexible and willing to roll with the punches, you should also try your best to formulate a plan, then stick to it. You may need to adjust that plan on the fly, but as long as when you’re creating new tasks, you’re accounting for the tasks you won’t get to as a result, so you’re more likely to not let your day get away from you.

You may not get to enjoy the regularity of set working hours, but, with these methods, you can take steps toward keeping that balance between work and play in check. You can also make sure you have peace of mind when you do go about your work, by making sure you’re covered. AAMI offers a range of Business Insurance policies that can work for busy tradies.


Get a Small Business Insurance quote online or give us a call today on 13 22 44 to chat to our team about the best policy for you and your small business.


Disclaimer: Insurance is issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as AAMI Business Insurance. Any advice has been prepared without taking into account your particular objectives, financial situation or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it. Please read the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before you make any decision regarding this product. The Target Market Determination is also available.