Having an at-home business and a healthy work-life-family balance doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
With a little time and effort, you can strike a healthy balance between work and life. Here are six steps to help you get started.
6 Steps to A Better Work/Life Balance
Step One : Get real about how much workable time you have each day
Mom entrepreneurs don’t usually have the same 9-5 gig that moms who work outside the home do. You need to figure out how much “workable time” you really have each day.
Think about your days and begin to notice the patterns. To get a better idea of your patterns, try Charlie Gilkey’s “heatmapping” exercise.
Which hours are your most productive? Which are near impossible to get anything done? What daily activities do you need to work around, like school drop off, lacrosse practice and orthodontist appointments? Once you’ve recognized these patterns, pencil in those hours on your desk calendar or on an online calendar like Google’s.
Step Two: Set your office hours
Now you know how much workable time you DO have each day, so it’s time to set your office hours.
If possible, create a regular schedule of office hours like, M – W – F 10am-2pm. This will help you plan your day better and it’ll help your customers and clients know when they can expect to meet with you, hear from you, etc. Post your office hours on your website or blog and add them to your email signature instead of an annoying auto-responder. Sorry, Tim Ferriss.
And if you have younger children at home with you, try to make your office hours fun for them while helping them understand that you’re working. Set an egg timer to go off in 30 minute intervals and create “fun circuits” to fill up the time – let them take the contents of your shredder and nest their stuffed animals in it, have them refill your printer with paper, or have them color, read or (gasp) watch their favorite show.
Step Three: Break ’em down
You’ve got your office hours, so now you need to break them down into smaller chunks with corresponding to-do’s.
Maybe you use the first 30 minutes to bang through your ten oldest emails and use the next 20 to check your @ replies on Twitter. Then maybe you make a 10 minute phone call before using your last 60 minutes to write the sales page for your newest product launch. Write down these bite-sized to-do’s in your daily calendar and then take pleasure in checking them off, one by one.
Step Four: Do not disturb
Treat your office hours as sacred, barring any family emergencies of course.
During your office hours, let phone calls go to voice mail, close your email client and for heaven’s sake, stop Twittering and Facebooking. You need every minute of your office hours and you have no time to waste on distractions and disruptions. The same goes for family and friends who call or drop by during your work time. Politely tell them that you’re working for the next couple hours but would love to catch up later.
Step Five: Pencil in time for you + your family
You know the saying “all work and no play makes you a dull mogul mom”? Well, sayings become sayings because they’re true.
I bet you started your at-home business so you’d have more time to spend with your children. Am I right?
So make sure that happens and you don’t become just another frazzled, not-a-minute-to-spare WAHM. Schedule a relaxing bath for yourself every night at 8. Or a family Scrabble game on Sundays at 3. A double massage for you and your spouse mid-month. Or maybe just a walk by yourself on Saturday mornings. It doesn’t matter what you do or when you do it, but as Nike says, just do it.
Step Six: Lather, rinse, repeat
Commit to trying these steps for at least two weeks.
Really let them sink in and see how they make you feel about your work/life balance. Definitely tweak them as needed, but give them a chance to help you find that sweet spot between mom and entrepreneur.
So, do you have any steps that’ve helped you with your balancing act? Share ’em with us below.
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit Visa’s reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The page offers small business owners a place where they can find educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the page introduces a new theme that focuses on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business.