Working from home can be great, except when it isn't.
Entrepreneurship is fantastic when you can work from home, especially if you have a family or partner. It affords us so many choices to create our own path and write our own ticket.
The problem is, when you're passionate about what you do, you're likely to spend long hours to get everything off the ground. "One more minute", "don't wait for me" or "I would love to" become a part of your vocabulary.
So, what if you want "life balance"? How do you get that? Is it really possible?
It's Really About Choices
When you're an entrepreneur, there are going to be long hours, and balance can seem a distant fantasy. It's a reality. There's a whole lot of talk about work-life "balance", but I prefer to look at it in terms of "choices". Before making choices, it's crucial to know what's important to you.
Managing Your Time Around Your Priorities
Let me tell you a little about me, and the choices I have made. I started my business when my son was in preschool. My priority was him, and his schedule. I was also very driven to start my business.
So, I sat down and looked at the calendar and saw what kind of time I realistically had to build my business. My priorities were to make some extra income for my family, while serving my choice clients and getting the personal satisfaction of helping them succeed. Based on my priorities, I made the choice to build my business on a slow and steady pace. As a result, I had about 15 hours a week to use, total.
It wasn't a lot, but I did not want to be a stressed out mess, with nothing to give back to my family. That meant I made choices to only work with clients three days a week, and I was writing, networking and doing administrative tasks on the other days. I had checklists of what I had to accomplish each week, and I also had to be tougher on myself than any boss I had ever had. My choice of putting my son first meant I had to get as much done in the time I had.
- What are your priorities?
- What does "balance" mean to you?
- What are the choices you will make around those priorities?
- What does that look like for you on a daily basis?
- Are you willing to make those choices at this point?
- Is there anything that you need to rethink?
- Lastly, are you realistic with the amount of time you have, and can you live with the choices you have to make?
Know Where to Draw the Line
Working at home is great, but you also have to know where to draw the line so you still have a life (if that is important to you). I'm a fan of having "work hours". I have some posted in my office, which is a reminder for me. If you're having trouble shutting down, try posting your hours.
Know When to Unplug, Before You Blow a Gasket
Lastly, know where your threshold is. Use your calendar as a planning tool. Just as you plan your workdays, meetings, clients and networking, plan your personal life as well. I am a big believer in one calendar: you have one life, you should have one calendar. Plan your days off, your vacations and time with friends and family. You calendar will be a cold, hard reality check for the choices you make about your life and time. It's easy to see if what you say is important really shows up in your day to day calendar. This is how you know whether or not your choices really are the ones you want. If they aren't showing up on your calendar, are you being really honest with yourself about what's really important?
Do you have balance? What choices do you need to make?
Other Helpful Work-Life Balance Resource on StartupNation: