Creating a positive work-life balance is at the very heart of a successful home business. How is it possible for two world's to coexist underneath one roof? Very carefully.
Friend: “So what are you doing these days?”
You: “Oh, well I started a business and am working out of my home.”
Friend: “Oh my gosh! You are so LUCKY! I bet you just love it -- working in your jammies, never having to commute – your life must be so easy.”
You: “ummm, sure.”
The reality is, working from home is not always ideal, nor is it easy. It takes pure will power to leave those gross breakfast dishes in the sink and hoof it downstairs to the home office by 9:00am. There is no boss or time clock to force motivation, so distractions can pull us away from our work constantly. It takes concentration and pure old-fashioned focus to keep work as a top priority during work hours. Don’t get me wrong, working from home is pretty sweet, but maintaining a work life balance is a constant battle as work and home life constantly collide.
Here are four great tips to help you actually work while working from home:
- Find a work schedule that is appropriate for you and your family and hold it sacrosanct: There are three parties with whom most business owners share office space: yourself, your spouse and your children. This home business thing will work out beautifully if you lay out a formal work schedule for how you are to share the building, and then stick to it. For instance, because I have small children, I have committed to not working until they go to school or are asleep. That is my commitment and no matter what happens or how bad I want to shoot off an email, I wait until it is time to “clock in” for work. (I actually start twitching sometimes…but there are breathing techniques to help with that).
- No TV – ever: Ok, maybe not ever ever. But only once in a while and not during work hours. I once believed that if I just had the TV on as background noise it wasn’t a problem. But then I started working in another room without a TV and boy was I more efficient and focused. TV is never a good idea to mix with work. Your business needs your full attention, and it just isn’t fair to your customers or employees to try and fit in old reruns of Lost or last night’s game. Getting “off” the TV might require a 10-step plan, but it will be worth it because you will either spend your time being more productive or with real characters from your life.
- Work somewhere sheltered from distractions: Remember those disgusting breakfast dishes I previously mentioned? The best way to avoid work distractions like these is to run from them like they are Potiphar's wife. Take stock of your current situation and find an area in your home where you can hunker down. It is best to avoid high traffic areas that are consistently cluttered or that may have your other “building tenants”. Be creative in how you create a home office – you could put a desk in an empty closet, claim a corner in the basement or even hold up in the formal dining room (you know you never use it anyway!). The key is to create a spot that allows you to feel like you are actually going to work. This will do wonders in preparing you for your workday. Think Clark Kent in the phone booth – once he stepped out in the superman costume, he meant business. Find your phone booth.
- Take a load off – literally: There is this annoyingly cute phrase “If you want something done, give it to the busiest person in the room.” To those people using this phrase, I say, please stop calling us. We are too busy. If you are to succeed in balancing home and business, you can’t do it all. You have to be able to prioritize and say no to the non-essentials. We should all practice together now. N-O. N-O. Nnnnnooooo. No. See? That actually feels kind of nice. Your cash flows will thank you later.