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Note from Lisa: I’m so excited to share this guest post from Crystal with you. She shares three practical ways to improve your work life balance when you’re working from home. These tips can help you make sure your business doesn’t take over your life!
Tell us how to get better work life balance Crystal!
Working is almost always a necessity in today’s world and it’s important to have a good work life balance, especially when you work from home and you can’t physically leave the office. Pressures and requests come at you from all sides and seem to be never ending. It’s vital for your mental health to have some down time as well as have time to be focussed when it’s needed.
Over the past year more and more opportunities have arisen for people to work from home and you’ll be seeing more small businesses popping up who are looking to hire support. Taking on contractors or employees who work virtually or remotely have advantages, such as lower overhead and employee benefits.
There are also benefits for those who work from home, such as not having the time and expense of commuting, as well as being there for your children or other dependant family members, should they need you. It allows more time for family bonding and time for home education, as well.
Despite the positives, the lines between work and home life can get blurred. These are steps you can take to improve your work life balance.
1. Work Less and Earn More to Tip the Scales
This is the dream, isn’t it?
Depending on your job, it may be possible. When I first started working from home as a childminder I was making about $2.50 per hour after expenses and training times were taken into consideration. It served its purpose at the time, but was not sustainable in the long-term. You, too, may also need to merge into a different line of business.
When I started as a virtual assistant I earned about $5.00 per hour in social media. I’ve been moving up and now I am earning $20-40 per hour as a virtual assistant and have my eye on becoming an online business manager. The online world is so wide that the possibilities are endless if you are determined and put in the learning and gain experience.
One way to do this is to niche down and specialize so you become an expert in your field and can then increase your rates accordingly. From here you could move into project management and increase your rates again.
Earning more per hour means I’m able to work fewer hours, with the result being that I’ve gone from sleeping about four hours a night to now almost 8, and it’s made a big difference in both my physical and mental health, which also benefits my family.
2. Schedule the Time of Day That You Work
This may depend on the type of job you have; if you work for a large corporation you’re more likely to have to work during traditional office hours, but if you work for a small business or as a virtual assistant, you can often work at times that are more suitable for you, as long as you get the work done.
In my case, my client prefers me to work when she’s online, but with eleven time zones between us, it’s perfect for me because I can do the majority of my work after the children have gone to bed. This type of scheduling can make for long days but it helps separate my work time from homeschool and family time.
For some people, their schedule may be better to work in the afternoons during nap time or in the mornings while their children have online classes. For others, perhaps working weekends when your spouse or another person can look after your children so you can be uninterrupted may be the best option. Balancing each day can help you balance your life.
3. Schedule Down Time for Better Work Life Balance
Being away from work is very important, and although we usually work because we must, and often because we also enjoy it, to really be effective at it, as well as other aspects of life, we must step away and give ourselves time. Time for perspective, time to build up our stores of energy, and time for creativeness.
This doesn’t come naturally, nor easily to everyone, so you may need to schedule down time into your day and week at regular intervals. Here are some practical ideas to help:
1. Date Night
After having children and while hubby was working long days and I was working from home we never seemed to spend time together without babies or toddlers at hand. When our youngest was about three years old hubby and I started to schedule Saturday night date nights together after the kids were tucked into bed.
We made date night special for the children by making them a little dinner they had together on their own, and then us adults ate later and watched a movie uninterrupted.
Our children seemed to know how important this was for us because they never crawled out of bed on date night. Eight years on and our youngest now sometimes helps to prep our meal and lights candles for us when she thinks we need extra romance!
We may not go ‘out’, but having this time to reconnect, when neither of us are thinking about other business does a world of good.
2. Family Night
Sunday nights are now family movie night, which gives my brain two nights off working, which is very much needed. Home ed during the weekdays, working in the evenings, and blogging on the weekends, I always look forward to some time to just chill out. I used to feel guilty about this time ‘off’ but I no longer do.
3. Other Things To Schedule
Other things I schedule are days off of work and home education when I can catch up on household chores at times when they tend to fall behind, days for freezer meal prepping, days for planning and scheduling home ed, and days for field trips or simply chilling out as necessary.
I found that if I schedule one or two of these days into my calendar each month, even if I make up the work hours on other days, I am able to be more productive both during work hours and more relaxed during family time.
Be Realistic: Why Are You Working From Home?
The main thing to remember is to be realistic with your time management. I still tend to write lists that are simply impossible to complete in the time I have available, but I’m getting better at not being stressed out about it. I’ve been trying to take the lessons a couple of bosses have tried to teach me over the years:
- ‘The work will still be there tomorrow,’
- ‘Don’t get stuck with the minutiae, focus on the larger picture.’
I think that many of us who have trouble separating work from home life are perfectionists and don’t want to disappoint others, but we are human and if we crash we will disappoint everyone.
We need to remember that the reason we had children is that we wanted to spend time with them, and that doesn’t stop once they are 5, 10, or even 15. Life may have been less complicated before we had families, but it’s just as important to take time away from work and enjoy life; both with your family, as well as enjoying your own hobbies and interests as well (if you’re looking for a new one, here’s a list of 10 hobbies for work at home moms).
Remember, a stressed-out unhappy mom means an unhappy family, and no one wants that, so it really all does start with you.
Crystal McClean is a Canadian who has settled in Northern Ireland with her local husband to home educate their two children by day and by night she is a virtual assistant and online business manager. On the weekends you'll find her writing for Castle View Academy, her eclectic homeschool blog or wandering the nearby countryside and seaside.