Working from home, excelling in a small business and earning your own money can be empowering. But, when your business is based in your home, you have to be especially careful to keep your life in balance. By setting up a few rules for yourself, you can keep yourself from overworking, short-changing either side of your life and getting excessively stressed by your commitments:
1. Set working hours.
When your office is in your home, you have access to it 24 hours a day. Set working hours just like you would for an outside business. This both limits the time you can spend working and makes you commit to the minimum amount of hours your venture needs to succeed.
2. Coordinate with friends.
No one can do everything. Work with friends to split commitments. You can take turns watching each other's children, driving to errands, cooking and taking on other chores.
3. Get some exercise.
Exercise helps you battle stress and keep your mental focus. Plus, it can be time that you carve out of your day that is just for you. Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
4. Get adequate sleep.
If you are fatigued, you won't make good decisions. Make sure that you get to bed at a reasonable hour every night so that you get the 7 to 9 hours medical professionals recommend. Take short cat naps during the day to refresh if you aren't getting enough sleep at night.
5. Let go of activities with low pay-off.
It can take some experimentation to find just the right mix in both work and family activities. If you and your children don't get a lot out of a local organized playgroup, don't feel guilty about cutting that activity. If your business doesn't get a lot of traction when you use cold-calling to get clients, try doing something else.
6. Limit time on activities like email.
If you let it, email can eat up several hours of your day. Answer email for an hour or less at the end of each day, and don't log in otherwise. You can add a note to your signature explaining that you will get back to emails each afternoon.
7. Let go of perfectionism.
No one can complete every single thing they want at the quality level they demand from themselves. It is okay to be less than perfect. The occasional improvised meal or store-bought treats in place of homemade ones is perfectly okay. You need time for family, work and other commitments, so don't be afraid to cut the occasional corner.
8. Make a to-do list every day.
But, keep it to five items. A short list of must-do items is more likely to get done. Make sure every item is actionable and quantifiable. "Make more calls" is nebulous. "Secure five new clients" is concrete.
9. Don't get caught up in habits.
Just because you've always done something, that doesn't mean that is the right way to do it. Examine the actions you engage in each day to see which of them provide value and which can use a little tweaking for better efficiency.
10. Don't over-commit.
You can't be everywhere at once. It's okay to say no to volunteering, extra child activities and other commitments if they take too much time from your small business and your life at home.
Each entrepreneur needs to find their own balance to make sure they are getting what they want from both work and family. Feel free to experiment to figure out what works best for you.