As a small business owner I’m sure you know the feeling of having a pile of work to do on your desk (or kitchen table) and dinner to make and kids screaming in the next room. You have wonderful clients that are waiting for your genius and you have to meet those deadlines, darn it! When you work from home it’s easy to feel as though you work 20 hours a day and are still just inching forward on your various projects. What you (and all of us) need are some boundaries. We need some guidelines and systems to help separate our work life from our personal life.
One of the reasons we all go into business for ourselves is to have flexibility and less stress in our lives. Unfortunately, we women tend to be responsible for so much of our families lives, it’s hard to make a distinction between work time and family time. We often become stressed out, harried employees rather than the calm, poised business owner we wanted to be.
In order to make our businesses successful and get our home back on track, we need to get conscious about how we live every day and make some changes. The following list of changes will help you compartmentalize your dual lives and therefore make you more productive and better able to focus on the task at hand whether it’s writing your business blog post or changing a diaper.
- Create a general daily schedule – Take a look at what you do every day – wash dishes, pick the kids up from school, write a blog post for your business, create your product, etc. Then list them out on paper and give them each a logical timeframe in which to get them completed. Next organize the list in a logical order, for instance, you might want to lump all the house chores into adjacent timeframes in order get the house done. Or you could group all your writing task together because that’s when you’re sitting at your computer. The idea is that every day you will have a rough schedule of how you’ll spend your minutes and hours.
- Create a daily to-do list – Every evening before bed, you’ll create a to-do list for the next day. Where you left off in your projects or chores is fresh in your mind and it will be easy to create a list you can reference the next morning. This way nothing will be falling through the cracks. You’ll actually be able to check items off your list and keep track of your lovely new high level of productivity. Use this Daily To-Do pdf to get started.
- Take a regular vacation – We all know vacation time is wonderful but it also give us a chance to unplug from email and social networks, recharge our creative engines and come back to our businesses with a renewed sense of why we started our business in the first place. You need schedule one or even two vacations away from your business every year. Get it on the calendar and stick to it no matter what. Your level of peace and creativity will raise because of it!
- Take a 3 day weekend – Consider taking Fridays off. Why not? A three day weekend seems like a luxury but it’s all about recharging, rebuilding yourself, caring for your family and your health, then coming back to work on Monday a stronger, clear-headed person.
- Create a separate work space – Please, please don’t have your business workspace in your personal space if possible! Even if you have to set up your computer on the kitchen table or put your sewing machine in the dining room, you need to NOT work in your bedroom. I know sometimes it’s the most convenient spot in the house or apartment but you really need to separate work life and home life and you can’t do that if you can’t walk away from work and literally or figuratively close the door behind you. If you sleep where you work, you never really stop thinking of “that one last thing” you could do before bed. Best to remove the temptation to work from your mind altogether. Make your bedroom your place to really rest your body AND mind from your business.
- Set regular office hours – It’s tempting to be RANDOM about when you work and when you don’t. I used to work or clean house on a catch-as-catch-can basis and that will drive you crazy eventually. What helped me organize my day the most was creating regular office hours. Even if you work part-time you can group all your working hours together to create your schedule. Take a regular lunch hour. You might want to use your lunch hour to pick the kids up from school. But under no circumstances will you EVER do household chores or errands, etc. during your work hours. This helps your clients and customers know when they can reach you and helps you to mentally separate work from home. If you want to free up more hours for working in your business, you might try hiring childcare, having your groceries delivered or having regular maid service!
These six items will help you organize your days and take that frantic overwhelm feeling away. You’ll feel better about your choice to start your own business, you’ll feel more effective and productive and your family will feel that they’ve gotten the attention from you they desire.