As a home-based business owner myself, I can relate to the Etsy shop owner, the mom blogger, and the freelance graphic designer working from the “comfort” of their own home. I say “comfort” because once you’re working for yourself, experiencing all the freedom that comes within the 4 walls of your home, there’s also a lot of procrastination, guilt, and confusion.
Set Up For Success
Have a Designated Workspace(s)
Determine where you’ll work on your business and stick with it. Whether it’s the kitchen table, a desk in the living room (that’s me!), or a Pinterest-worthy home office with a door to separate you from your kids (#goals, right?), it’s important for you and the people around you to know when it’s time to work. Working from your bed or couch or on the floor while your kids and dog smother you, makes it feel like you’re always working and that there is no real distinction between home life and work life.
Set yourself up for success and save a lot of time by organizing all the things that take up a lot of mental energy and time. For me, these things include, cooking, cleaning, and entertaining the kids.
To combat these issues, get extremely organized. Create a command center or upgrade the one that you have. For me, this is a work in progress but it truly makes a difference. Meal plans are easy to put together and so are the corresponding shopping lists. Saturday mornings are spent preparing and portioning food for the week before anyone else wakes up. The kids have busy bins and a toy rotation set up as well as an easily accessible “art cart” for their entertainment. My preschooler has an activity binder and I’m always pinning to my Lesson Plan board on Pinterest.
I have a detailed cleaning schedule and system to maintain my home without losing my mind. In the past, I had let the house go in order to get a bunch of work done just to spend an entire day cleaning it up and getting behind on work again. Exhausting.
Streamlining the processes around your home that take up a lot of your time may look different for you and that’s okay but I encourage you to think about what causes friction in your day. What disrupts your flow? Attack those things and figure out a system that works for you.
Let Everyone Know What You’re Doing
Shout it from the rooftops! Let your family, friends, Facebook friends, and strangers on Instagram know that you are running a home-based business. Let them support you! It’s also a lot easier to say “no” to the people in your life when they are already aware of the goals you are working toward.
Set a Schedule
Speaking of making it easier to say “no”, set your working hours. This may not be the same time every day but it’s important to set your working hours so that you know how much time you’re investing in your business and when you need to say “no” to other things that come up. It is also extremely helpful to your customers to know when you are available!
Plan Your Week
Okay, this is different than setting your hours. Planning your week means you set goals, choose what projects to work on, and add your tasks and to do’s to your calendar. This way you know what you’re getting into each day instead of wasting time trying to figure it out.
Schedule Time For Family, Fun, and Free Time
In addition to planning your work week, be sure to pencil in some time to relax and enjoy yourself. Read that book you bought 3 months ago, take your kids to the park, or go see a movie. This is an essential step in preserving your sanity and avoiding burn out.
Check Your Mindset
I’ve already touched on this quite a bit but saying “no” to requests, demands, and activities within and outside of your business will skyrocket your productivity. If you get up and get your toddler another toy every 5 minutes when she asks you to, you’ll never finish writing that pitch. If you consistently allow your friend to call you on her lunch break when you are scheduled to work on your blog, it’s not going to happen.
Saying “no” is okay and it’s a muscle you seriously need to start flexing. Learn to respect your time and teach others to respect your time as well.
Let Go of Guilt
With saying no, comes guilt. Usually. But, setting boundaries does not have to be a guilt-ridden process. I’ll be the first to say that I am still working on this every single day. It’s important to know that your dreams, your work matter. And they probably matter the most to the very people you’re having to set boundaries with. What will happen if you are successful? I’m willing to bet that their lives improve a little with each victory you have in your business. So why are you wasting your time beating yourself up about how you provide for yourself and your family?
Ask For Help
Remember when I said you have to tell EVERYONE you know about what you’re doing? That’s just not for boundary-setting purposes. It’s also a great way of developing a support-system, cheerleaders if you will.
If the people around you don’t know what you’re doing there is no way to feel supported by them. As an added note, if you never ask for help, you’re not going to get it.
I can tell you I STRUGGLE with this pretty bad. When I don’t just tell my husband what I’m stressed about my life is so much harder. There is usually a solution to the problem you’re having whether it be resources/skill or time, in your own circle of friends, families, and community.
Asking for help goes beyond support and having time to work. It extends into actual business help. For example, I can manage social media, writing, and basic (and I mean BASIC) web design, but I cannot craft a gorgeous user-friendly website. I can’t take my own picture for branding and business cards. I can’t work all the time when my kids are around. And, honestly, I can’t keep my house super clean on top of all of this.
But you know what, somebody can. Somebody out there knows how to build a website, take beautiful photographs, be an amazing nanny or teacher, and help clean a home. The best part? There is a way to make these things, get this kind of help no matter what kind of situation you’re in. Get help through bartering or maybe you need to sign another client for it to work financially. The number one lesson here is you HAVE to ask and be willing to find a way to get help.
Life does happen. Your child will get a cold that keeps you up all night. The power will go out rendering you, dare I say, Wi-Fi-less. Life is going to happen and while I value planning and schedules, and routine, I also value sanity.
My favorite thing about using Google calendar is that I can quickly jump on my phone and move things around if the day isn’t going exactly as I predicted. This usually allows me to still get the things done I need to or it lets me seamlessly reschedule.
Get to Work
To continue my praise for Google calendar, time blocking has become my saving grace and it is made so easy with a calendar app. I block time for getting ready, for chores, for playtime, for work, for meal prep, and even for time with my husband. It has made it so much easier to separate in my mind when I am working and when I’m a mom/wife/daughter.
This is similar to blocking your time. Basically batching is when you do similar tasks together. For example, if you have a block of time, let’s say 3 hours, dedicated to your business, it would inefficient to jump from writing a blog post to checking email to scrolling through Instagram. Instead, make sure your blocks of time are assigned to tasks that are thoughtfully batched together.
Whenever you can, get ahead on your work. This isn’t a happy accident. I’m talking about intentionally setting yourself up to be a month ahead on content. I’m talking about scheduling your days so that you aren’t saving a bunch of work for the end of the month but working on projects every day, always gaining traction. That way when life does happen, as mentioned above, you aren’t an absolute mess of stress-induced anxiety attacks while trying to handle whatever it is that came up.
Use Project Management Tools and Write It Down
While I plan on doing an entire post on project management and social media management tools, I want to quickly mention them here. Ready?
I personally love Asana, Basecamp, and And Co. It makes handling clients, teams, to do lists, projects, and time tracking so simple. Where project management tools lack, I compensate by continuing to write most things down in a real-life paper planner as well. This old-fashioned method is particularly useful for goal setting.
Track Your Time and Analyze
Speaking of tracking your time, I recommend tracking your time on just about everything you do and see where you’re spending it and how you might want to make changes. Maybe you didn’t realize you regularly spend 25 minutes scrolling through Instagram for no other reason than to compare yourself to hundreds of other people. I wouldn’t expect anyone to track every moment on a daily basis but if you feel like you just can’t find time in the day to work on you the things you need and want to be working on, then maybe taking a closer look will help identify “hidden” pockets of time you can reclaim.
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