When you’re self-employed and work from home, it’s very convenient and easy to be able to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Technology makes it even easier. Everyone has a smartphone or a tablet an so you could be connected all the time. Unfortunately, this was me far too often (and I still slip up from time to time). I would work in any free moment I had. I would work while the kids were playing rather than playing with them. It was bad. Something had to change. I had to find a way to leave my work at the office so that I could be more present with my family. It was all about closing the office for the day.
CREATE A SCHEDULE FOR EACH DAY
Every night before I go to bed, I create my schedule for the next day (including specific times for each task). I also make my tasks very specific. This would include who I needed to respond to via email and what clients I would need to call. Be sure to include any personal errands that you have along with breaks and meal times. It’s amazing how much more productive I was simply by knowing when I’d be taking a break to recharge!
BE SPECIFIC AND REDUCE TEMPTATION
I do my best to close shop at the same time each day. That allows me to set a routine allowing things to become second nature. I have a block of time each day for family time that is non-negotiable. In addition, take away any easy access that will allow you to check in quickly. At the end of the day, shut your computer down completely (rather than letting it sleep). If you must have emails on your phone, shut off the notifications to help you reduce the reminder that there’s work to do.
At our old house, I replace the doorknob on my office door with one that required a key to unlock. When I left, I literally “closed the office” for the day. Although I didn’t leave the house, it really helped me to feel as though I was leaving work for the day.
SET EXPECTATIONS WITH YOUR FAMILY
Give your family your office hours. Help them understand that although you are home, there are certain times you shouldn’t be disturbed. On the flip side, let them know when office hours are over and allow them to hold you accountable for stepping away from your work.
STAY ON SCHEDULE
Don’t try to get ahead. If you’ve finished everything on your schedule for the day. STOP. Celebrate. Go spend time with your family. I used to try to work ahead and ended up getting burned out rather than more productive. Reward yourself for being more efficient. There will be plenty of times you aren’t able to get everything done.
Speaking of which, if you get behind, but you’ve come to the end of the day, don’t try to cram it all in. Take a breath. It will all be there tomorrow. Unless there is a looming deadline that can’t be moved, relax! Forgive yourself and be ready to hit the schedule harder the next day.
BE READY FOR ALL THOSE AWESOME IDEAS
Now I know ideas for your business are not going to come just during office hours. I usually keep the note app on my phone handy so that I can write down ideas as they pop into my head. I used to write them all down, but had a hard time keeping up with all those receipts that seemed to be handy when an idea popped into my mind. Find your own place for jotting down ideas. It should be something that you can do quickly and easily and does not require you going back into your office space.
Now I have a regular office hours and create a specific schedule for each day. Rather than feeling frantic at the end of the day, I find that I’m much more productive. I have more time with my family and everyone is happier. I’m not perfect and I still get off schedule sometime, but my plan has made things so much better for my family!
How do you schedule your time during the day? Have you found the balance between work and family?