Whether you work at home blogging, are a virtual assistant, run a photography business, or simply telecommute from your job outside your home, balancing work and home life can be daunting. In fact, if you aren’t careful you will quickly realize you do nothing but work.
Those of us that work from home fall into the bad habit of never leaving work. Not only will you eventually get burnt out, but the stress of never having any downtime can also do a serious number to your health, your family, your sanity, and your waistline.
I’ll admit that after working from home for the last 15 years I am more than guilty of “never leaving work.” I have been everything from a web designer, virtual assistant, and professional photographer, to a freelance writer. Actually, I am still a professional photographer and freelance writer. I hung up my web designer and VA hat about 8 years ago.
My point is that it is possible to work from home and still have a home life if you put your mind to it and keep the following tips in mind.
5 Ways to Balance Work and Home Life
1. Keep a Schedule!
I cannot emphasize this enough! This is the most important aspect when working from home. Yes, this is more important than coming up with a business plan or announcing to the world that you now get to work from home.
Before you even launch your new business, sit down and figure out what days you will work, the hours you will work, and what days you will have off! Yes, you need to schedule your days off! If you have already started your business, or even if you are years into it, it is never too late to sit down and start a schedule!
2. Keep Personal & Business Accounts Separate
This goes for email accounts, phone numbers, and social networking sites. There is nothing worse than checking your personal Facebook account and seeing business messages that of course you just have to answer right then, and before you know it, it is 2 hours later.
Or getting a phone call or text from a client to your personal cell phone at 1 am because they assumed it was a business line and they would not be disturbing you (I actually did this to someone else one time!). Or even better, being on vacation and getting a call from a number that is not in your phone, just to answer it and realize it is someone inquiring about your business or services…so much for being on vacation (see #1).
3. Create a Work Space
This is critical and will help you keep a schedule and “business hours”. If you are lucky enough to convert a room of your house into an office, awesome!
If you don’t have the space to create your own office, invest (it is worth it) in getting a desk/computer armoire to use as office space. They typically do not take up a lot of room and you can still close it all up at the end of the day, which is important.
The point is you want to be able to close up your “business” at the end of the day. Keeping business items laying around where you can see them, will eventually cause you to “go back to work”. (see #1)
4. Schedule Vacation Time
If you were to work outside of the home, you would get vacation time. Owning your own business or working from home is NO different. We all need vacation time to unwind and rejuvenate otherwise we get burnt out quickly!
I begin the year with a planner and determine when vacation will be (I usually take the month of July off and 2 weeks during December) and schedule it right then. Whether you plan to take a week or a month, make sure to schedule it and stick to it! You don’t need to plan the actual vacation, but do plan on what days you will take off so you can plan accordingly through the year (and let clients know)!
5. Set Boundaries With Other Household Members
Those that live with you, need to understand that during your work schedule, you are at work and they need to respect it. Whether it is your spouse or your kids (even friends).
Set them down, explain your work schedule, and let them know that during those times you are not to be disturbed unless it is a true emergency.
I started working from home when my two youngest were infants and of course, you can’t tell them not to bother you, so instead, I created my work hours around their sleep schedules. That means that I would work during their scheduled nap time(s) and I would get up early before they would wake up and then would work again (if needed) a few hours after they went to bed. However, I would not work on weekends. You may, however, find it more beneficial to schedule your days off during the week and then work on weekends allowing the other parent to take over.
It is exhausting with small ones, but it can be done if you stick to a schedule!