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Do you feel like your home business is taking too much of your time? Here are my top ten tips for work life balance.
When you start a home business, it’s easy to let it take over your life. Your business is always accessible on your computer and phone, and there’s always so much to do. If you aren’t careful, you may end up resenting how much time your business takes.
The good news? With some proactive planning and a set of healthy boundaries, you can develop a better work life balance. Here are some practical tips to help you get there.
1. Understand the Phrase
Work life balance is a bit of a misnomer. Life isn’t like a balance scale, that can become perfectly balanced. There will be seasons in your life where your family needs more of your time. Likewise, there will be seasons when your business needs some extra attention.
If you’re seeking perfect balance, you aren’t ever going to arrive. These seasons of life will pop up and, in your attempt to maintain balance, you risk driving yourself crazy.
So if you switch your thinking on this concept, it can help. A slight mindset shift can make a world of difference in how you approach balance.
When I was in sixth grade, the drama class I was in put on a circus. As part of that unit, I learned how to juggle. With three balls going, one ball is always higher than the other two.
But, if you only focus on that high ball, do you know what happens? You drop the others.
In many ways, work life balance is more like juggling than a balance scale. Part of your life will always be up in the air, needing more of your time and energy. But, as you focus on that element of your life, you have to also pour into the other elements that are also important.
Flexibility is key, being able to shift from having one ball up in the air to having another. This means that minor changes can make incredible differences.
2. Create Healthy Boundaries
You cannot work on your business at all hours of the day. You cannot be available 24/7, at the beck and call of your clients.
Healthy boundaries are key to a sustainable home business. But, they don’t happen automatically. You must create them.
If something is out of balance in your life, brainstorm ways to address the problem. Perhaps you need to contact some clients and tell them what they can expect in terms of your availability. Or require all requests to go through email instead of texts or phone calls.
You are not a victim of your business. You created the business and get to define how it operates. It may take some training for your clients. You may even lose a client or two if they’ve disrespected your time for too long.
Not every client is a good one. Let the bad ones go and pour the time and energy you gave them into finding better clients.
Here’s a post I wrote exploring the concept of boundaries. Give it a read for more practical ideas.
3. Give Yourself Time Off
This one goes hand in hand with the previous. You need downtime as a mompreneur. Days off help you to recharge. I’ve discovered my creativity often soars after taking time off.
What works for your schedule may not be the schedule I use. Do what works for you.
When I first started, I tried hard to keep my weekends free. But along the way, I started slowly encroaching on those two days. My work often flowed over into Saturday, and even Sunday.
And pretty soon I sat back and realized that I hadn’t had a day off in a really long time. I knew something had to change.
So I reflected on my current workload and made some shifts. And I once again enjoy Saturday and Sunday off.
Does this mean I never work on my business on the weekends?
Nope. I really enjoy some business tasks and if I have free time on the weekend, I might choose to use them that way.
I don’t do client work. I don’t do work that stresses me out. And I really make it a point to limit the amount of time at all I spend.
Think about your week. What is a good starting point for taking a day off consistently? What needs to happen to get there?
You might have to start with one day a week and build from there.
Also, when you’re thinking of time off, make sure you have definite work hours. Have a time of night when you shut down and go to bed. Have times of the day when you’re focusing on your family or home or other areas of your life.
These off times will ultimately help you to do more in the end.
4. Use Your Phone as a Tool
Your phone can be a remarkable tool for your home business. I wrote a post about how to use your phone for your business, that you can read here:
But, your phone can also become a distraction. It can suck up all of your time.
To help keep this from happening, take time to think before installing apps on your phone. Ask yourself if you’d rather do this task on your phone or your computer.
Also, when you do install a new app, disable the notifications. Having notifications on often leads to you feeling like your phone is telling you what to do. Instead of checking your email when you want to, for instance, you may feel compelled to check as soon as you get the ding that you have a new message.
You need to be in control of your time, not your phone.
There are apps I definitely use on a regular basis to help me increase my productivity. My favorites are:
- Canva (my phone gets better internet than our house, so I try to do a lot of my pin creation on there so images upload and download more quickly)
- Buffer (to schedule for Twitter)
- Asana (I do project management scheduling for a client and use Asana regularly. I can make small changes to projects and add comments more quickly on my phone)
- The Notes app that came with my iPhone (for brainstorming blog post ideas and outlining on the go)
- Facebook Pages (no more scrolling through my feed and getting distracted to handle my business pages.)
- Podcasts App (I love listening to these when I’m out and about or doing dishes or folding laundry…)
- Calendar (for scheduling both work and personal tasks so I can see them all in one place.)
I have deleted so many apps from my phone that were time suckers for me. This included some of my favorite games. I’d open it up with the intent of doing just one game to relax and before I knew it, an hour would be gone…
If you’re struggling with your cell phone, take notes about when you use it and what you’re doing. Write down your start and end times for a day or two. This takes time, but it can give you an objective picture of what you’re actually using it for.
5. Get Things Out of Your Head
If you’re constantly trying to remember things, your balance is going to be off. You’ll be wasting too much time trying to decide what to do next.
Instead, create a system to get the details out of your brain. I use my Clever Fox planner and sit down each week to do some major planning. Then each week I update it with the tasks I need to do each day.
I even write down the client work I do on a daily basis, just so I don’t forget. Being able to cross it out when I’m done is satisfying.
If you have ideas for what your kids can do while you work, write them down. Write down your blog post ideas. And the dates you need to send an invoice.
Get all of those details about the workings of your business down into written form. When you clear your head of this information, you can easily refer to what you need instead of trying to recall and sift through massive amounts of information.
The type of system you use doesn’t matter. Use a planner like I do if that works for you. Or create a spreadsheet to keep track of things. You can use your phone, your computer, or paper and pencil.
Don’t get too hung up on the how – you can always change later. But do make it a point to regularly get things out of your head.
And as a part of this, take time to prioritize your to-do list. Client work typically takes precedent for me, and then time with my family. Your list may look different.
6. Use Time Saving Tools
When you’re trying to build better work life balance, you need quality time saving tools in your life. These can be for your personal life or your business.
Whether that means using your Instant Pot to help get dinner on the table more quickly or social media schedulers for your business, invest in things that can help you save time.
The more time you save, the more time you have to pour into other areas of your life.
But, make sure you don’t pay for something that you’re not going to use or that is a struggle for you. Do a little research before you buy to help you see if you will benefit. I really like programs that offer free trials for this reason. They allow me to try it out before I make a purchase.
Some, I’ve decided aren’t a good fit. Others I really enjoyed and happily paid for once my trial was done.
If you want to see some of my favorite time saving tools, read this post:
7. Put Fun Things On Your Calendar
When was the last time you did something fun with your family? I’ve discovered that the tasks I write on my to-do list are the ones I’m most likely to get done.
Everything else tends to get pushed aside.
So, I’ve made it a point to start putting family fun on the list. I schedule fun activities and put them on the calendar right away. I also add fun games and ideas to my daily lists.
When you look at your list and see some fun things, it’s motivating. You want to get done some of the work so you can focus on the fun. It’s not all tasks that drain you any more.
I also make it a point to schedule one on one time with my kids. I do this regularly by assigning my kids each a day. Then on their day, they get to pick what we do for our special time.
By taking time to add fun things to your calendar, you greatly increase the chances that they’ll happen. So sit down with your kids and brainstorm some fun things. Then get them scheduled and keep those appointments.
8. Make Time for Self Care
You cannot grow your business and raise your family without taking care of yourself. Self-care needs to be a regular part of your routine.
I have a different definition of self-care than many other mom bosses. You can read more about my philosophy of self-care here:
Here are some highlights:
- Make a list of things that you enjoy
- Regularly add those to your day
- Take time to just sit and have nothing planned
- Integrate your kids into the fun – teach them your hobbies and enjoy life together
- Schedule and keep necessary appointments so you don’t fall apart
You are not selfish for taking care of yourself. It gives you the bandwidth and mental space you need to take care of others. And work on your business.
9. Streamline Everything
What are the time wasters in your day? Do you have tasks for your business that you could create templates for? Are there bottlenecks in your day that you can brainstorm ways to improve?
Streamlining tasks in your life allows you to build efficiencies. And when you’re working efficiently, your work takes less time. You can do more in less time.
So, look for ways to streamline. Around here, that looks like:
- An annual meal plan
- Regular 15 minute cleanups to keep the house decent
- An annual chore chart for more in-depth cleaning
- Regular planning sessions for my business
- Using templates for my business
- Keeping track of my income and expenses regularly instead of leaving it until tax time (I use my income tracker in Excel for this. You can buy your copy here.)
- Letting my kids make minor decisions (they each are “in charge” of these on their day of the week)
- Creating seating charts for dinner and the van so I don’t have to try to keep track of “fair” in my mind
- Scheduling appointments on the same day to cut down the number of trips to town
- Doing one big shopping trip a month so the other weekly trips take less time
- Outsourcing my Pinterest management and some blog post writing
Streamlined in your life will look different than it does in mine. We have different things going on.
So don’t try to copy what I do. Instead, spend some time doing some serious thinking about ways you can cut wasted time. If you find yourself doing the same tasks over and over again, look for ways to create templates or write down your process.
It will take time at first to build the efficiencies and get the systems working. But, once they are up and running, things go so much more smoothly.
10. Give Yourself Grace
Running a business while raising a family is challenging. My absolute best tip for work life balance is to give yourself grace.
There will be times when it feels like you failed. When your launch takes so much of your time. Or you have a season of illness and sick kids that keep you from pouring into your business.
You can only do the best you can do. And no matter how well we plan, interruptions happen.
The key is to not beat yourself up mentally when those things happen. Do not let the spiral of negative self-talk drive you down. That will hold you in chaos longer.
Instead, acknowledge what happened. See if there are any improvements you can make going forward.
And then, let it go. Don’t keep dwelling on it. Failing to get something done doesn’t make you a failure.
Give yourself grace. And then try again.
My Tips for Work Life Balance
There you have it, ten of my best tips for work life balance. These can help you get more done without feeling stressed.
For even more time management tips for busy mom bosses, check out my course, Balancing Diapers and Deadlines. It’ll help you free up the time you need to grow a home business while raising a family.