If you run a home-based business, it’s likely that you already know that you’re pulling double duty. You might pop on a load of laundry between emails, pack orders whilst the kids are watching TV or take a phone call while fixing dinner.
One of the hardest parts of running a home business is separating your work from the demands of family, friends and your social life. It’s also one of the most satisfying parts – one of the benefits of a home-based business is the ability to pick and choose your working hours so that you don’t miss that certificate at assembly or a coffee catch up at the beach, even if you do have to do your accounts at 11pm to make up for it!
The down side of being able to be flexible with your working hours is that the friends and family often end up seeing working from home as something that is flexible and expect that their needs will take priority. It’s also easy to take time out that you will ‘make up later’ and those accounts that needed to be done end up being a shoebox of receipts you shove at your accountant during tax time, hoping they will sort it out (which they will, at a price!).
As your business gets bigger it’s even harder to keep your work-life balance. Here’s 5 easy steps you can implement to set you on the path towards managing work-life balance and separating your personal life from your home-based business.
Set a schedule (and stick with it)
One of the benefits of working for yourself is setting hours that fit your own mix of work/life needs. Only available after school drop-off and before pick-up and then again after 7pm? Work 10-2 and set aside some time in the evening if needed. Want to have a day where you can visit friends or be classroom help? Closed on Tuesdays. Just because you have to set up a work schedule, doesn’t mean that you have to keep the same hours as everyone else.
Setting a schedule and sticking to it is one of the easiest ways of keeping your work and personal life in balance.
Dress for the Day
You don’t need to get into office wear to work out of your living room, but you should project professionalism where you can. This might mean dressing smartly when you know you have a video call or meeting, or it may mean wearing smart business casual if you’re going to be in a situation where you can promote your business. Some people find it helpful to dress as if they were working in an office environment to help reinforce that working from home is still working. A work ‘uniform’ is a helpful cue to remind yourself and those around you that you’re working.
Separate your workspace
Separating your workspace from your living areas isn’t always possible but if you have a separate room where you can set up, take advantage of it. If you don’t have a separate room, a partition or screen can be helpful, not only does it serve as a visual cue to family that you’re working, it also helps minimise distractions from the house.
Separate your technology and accounts
If your personal mobile phone is also your work number, your email accounts shared, your social media linked, work will become something you can’t escape from. Yes, it’s good business practice to be available and you should set time aside to respond to enquiries, but it is important to do this during the house you have set aside for work.
If getting after-hours business calls or work day personal calls is a problem, it helps to have a separate business phone with a voice mail set up. Try and keep your business and personal social media accounts separate and disable push notifications so you can deal with enquiries during your work hours. Separate your business and personal emails and devices so that your distractions are kept to a minimum.
Home businesses can end up being a 24 hour time suck. If you’ve set your schedule, separated your workspace, technology and accounts, you should be able to switch off and leave that email until you’re scheduled to work.
Set up a voice mail, publish your “office hours” and leave the business accounts alone once you’ve “gone home” for the day.