Many entrepreneurs are launching businesses from the comfort of their own living rooms. On the surface, the home-based business appears to be the perfect solution to a growing problem of finding balance between work life and home life.
This turn toward the home-based business is not just a fad anymore. By 2020, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that about 40 percent of the American workforce – almost 65 million people – will work as freelancers, temps, independent contractors and solopreneurs; many of these laborers will do so from their own home.
Using the humble abode as an office opens up the potential to spend even more time with the kids. But, without a proper plan in place, working from home can quickly turn to an impossible juggle and lead to even less time with loved ones and less focus on the important business tasks of the day. It can quickly become a lose-lose situation if you aren’t careful.
It is possible to find that harmonious balance between work and work-from-home life, by following these 10 tips:
1) Design systems for success
Develop a schedule that will allow for productivity in business, competence as a parent, and sanity as a person. Build routines in how you’ll approach your tasks throughout the day, whether it’s emails or feedings, doctor appointments or conference calls. It’ll take some time to get into a rhythm between caring for your loved one and caring for your business; but once you do, it’ll allow for a more streamlined and productive day all around.
2) Be dynamic (i.e., roll with the punches)
While having a schedule and sticking to it will be key, let’s face it: there are times when the unexpected will rear its ugly head. Be prepared for this to happen and have a plan for flexibility for that last-second fire you’ll need to put out with your business, or the random diaper blowout that will require an extra bath for the newborn (and possibly yourself).
3) Plan the night before
Football teams don’t take the field without a gameplan — and you shouldn’t even think about taking on the day without a strategy of your own. Spend a few minutes at the end of each day to break down the approach for following 24 hours. Make a list of the tasks and meetings or playdates, and spend some time developing a roadmap for navigating any potential pitfalls.
4) Start the day early
History is full of successful entrepreneurs and heads of state that get most of their work done before the sun even comes up. The early morning hours are your friend. Pop up before the craziness of school bells and emails and knock out some of your most important tasks. You may find that the wee hours of the morning are your most productive of the entire day.
5) Prioritize your daily tasks
Making a list isn’t enough. Especially when curveballs with the children come your way. Build this daily list of things to do based off of priorities and stick to them. Find the most important assignment of the day and make sure this is the first thing you tackle when the mind is fresh and the day is young.
6) Stick to your deadlines
As with any entrepreneur, holding yourself accountable is key. Set goals and then create attainable deadlines for those goals. The attainable part is the emphasis here. Remember to build in some extra flexibility for those times when your little one is needy or something in your personal life calls for a little more attention. But once that deadline is set, bust your rear end to stick to that timeline.
7) Outsource wherever possible
Between all of the diaper changes and conference calls; soccer practice and meetings, the day can be quite hectic and loaded with menial tasks. Do whatever you can to lighten your load of the potential time-sucks in your day to allow for more focus on the important tasks. Schedule a cleaning service or have lunch delivered whenever possible. Look to resources like Odesk, Fiverr and Elance for freelancers to chip in on business tasks like data entry and small design work when you can afford.
9) Get out of the house
As with anyone who works from home, it’s pretty easy to immerse yourself in work and parenting and suddenly, hours have gone by without even seeing the sun. Even if it’s just to get the mail or walk the dog or pick up some lunch, schedule time into each day for some natural Vitamin D, for both you and the kids. Added bonus: the dose of sunlight will improve circadian rhythms in the body to help bring on better quality sleep.
9) Be there for your family and your kids
Don’t be afraid to wrap up work a little early from time to time to appreciate the awesome things in life, like taking a longer lunch break to play a game with your kids, or planning a little extra one-on-one time with your partner. Being productive and completing the biggest assignments for the day are still priorities, but never get so wrapped up in reaching the destination that you don’t ever stop to appreciate the journey.
10) Take Care of Yourself
With all of the focus on your latest project and any extra time devoted to your little one, it’s easy to forget about a pretty important piece of the puzzle: YOU. Make it a priority to make some time for yourself. Exercise both the body and mind with regular workouts and good nutrition, meditation, and even some journaling.
Achieving work-life balance is ultimate panacea for entrepreneurs. But oftentimes it’s seems downright impossible when faced with the constant juggle of managing business appointments while coordinating the soccer practice schedule. But with the right strategy and an understanding that sacrifices need to be made and flexibility is key, it really is possible to find dual success while working from home.