Since I launched my own business in 2008, I’ve been working on the art of balancing the coveted ‘work from home‘ status. While it is enticing to hang out in slippers and yoga pants many days, there are some key strategies that can either make or break your ability to stay focused and productive. With the added distraction of home and children, mompreneurs have it more difficult than most when it comes to getting it all done. So, if you are a WAHM (work at home mom) these strategies will really help!
Create regular office hours.
Working from home ignores one critical factor… the need for home to be NOT associated with work! Close your eyes and dream of your ideal day for your lifestyle right now.
- What are your ‘ideal’ work hours for you and your family at this time?
- What days will you commit to working on your business?
- What time will you begin your Work Day(s)?
- What time will you end your Work Day(s)?
- What time will you go to lunch?
- What time will you spend with your children?
- What time will you devote to yourself?
Once you have an idea – take out a month at a glance calendar and block out your work days and your personal days. It’s important to create routine and rigor while working at home. This way you can set and respect your own boundaries.
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Set your work area up for success.
Many moms, in an attempt to multi-task and stay available struggle with this key point. If you are balancing your laptop on your lap, or pushing papers aside on the kitchen table, you may need to restructure your work at home office. In your attempt to get it all done, you may be sabotaging yourself without the boundary of walls and a door. I’m not suggesting you need to re-structure your house, but if you’re finding yourself distracted often, sit back and consider whether your space is working for you or against you. At the very least, you need to provide an actual ‘boundary’ especially if you have young children. Children can’t see boundaries that are not there, so if you’re trying to do it all while feeding junior lunch – consider it’s you, and try to set up a work area that is more conducive to WORK. Be sure to address your tools and supplies and provide adequate lighting for the task at hand. If you need some guidance, check out this home space assessment tool that can put you on the right track.
Separate work from personal space and time.
One of the beauties of being a mompreneur is the fact that you can be home and attend to your family’s needs at a moment’s notice. While it’s true that you no longer have a boss breathing down your neck, and second-guessing your decision to stay home with your sick child, it is important to create boundaries between work time and home time. While it only takes a few minutes to throw in a load of laundry or run the vacuum, it is important for you to create real boundaries between the time you’re home and able to take care of chores and personal tasks, and your dedicated work time. There’s no better way to derail your thoughts and workflow than constantly interrupting yourself during the time you’re trying to work. It’s inefficient, and just leads to bad energy. Human beings are just not meant to jump from deep work to light work, and if you’re focused and working – allowing an interruption can cause triple the time to ramp back up into focused work mode. If you need to take care of personal tasks during your workday, do yourself a favor and take time off so you can take care of yourself and your family. If your kids or pets often disrupt your workday, consider getting help so their needs are taken care of during work hours. Kids can’t see those invisible boundaries that you feel when your cramming your work into the nooks and crannies of life.
Build regular and consistent social structures.
When you get serious about working at home, you’ll soon experience yourself saying ‘No’ to all the normal request from friends until they get it. BUT BEWARE… depending on your friendships, if you say no too many times, it may not be long before they stop asking you to join them, or before they stop even communicating that opportunities are available. The best way to avoid this disappearing act, is to build time in for social contact NOW – Don’t wait! If you know you want to see friends, create some type of regular gathering or event that you can look forward to, and that serves as a social anchor for your friendships. You may consider starting a girls night out, book club, luncheon, exercise club, or monthly movie night. Whatever makes sense in your chosen social circle, don’t let it go. Create opportunities that are consistent and easy to manage to be sure you don’t lose touch with the people you love most!
Remember – Left Hand, Right Hand.
Unless you hang out solely with entrepreneurs, when you launch a business, your needs and attentions dramatically shift from those people who are in your social circle. As such – what many people do is begin building their business by providing services and products to those close to them (friends and family). But it only takes a few jobs to realize that most friends and family don’t value your services in the same way as ideal or potential clients do. This is an issue of boundaries, and it is up to you to keep them clear. My good friend Stacey Martino of LoveandPassionCoach.com shares a metaphor called ‘Left Hand, Right Hand’ that works for entrepreneurs everywhere. Think of your friends and family as those in your inner circle – Your “Right Hand” – and those business colleagues, connections and partners as your “Left Hand”. Now, here comes the important part, your job with the people in your right hand is to love them… That’s it – Just give them love and support. It is those in your left hand from whom you’ll seek support for your business and goals. Go to those people to be filled up, inspired and direct your business. This distinction is incredibly important for you in the beginning stages, and will help you keep those personal and business boundaries clear.
Remember that launching a business is not a short-run plan… It’s a long-range plan that will take effort, time and energy. Keep your perspective, create space to continue to fill yourself up and celebrate your small successes along the way. If you need help along the way – I’m here, cheering you on from the sidelines!
What’s true for you? Please comment below!
Which of these strategies are the most challenging for you? We’d love to continue the discussion with you in the comments below!
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