I've read so many articles lately about balancing your life - family, business, spiritual, health and wellness - all of it. Admittedly, I was determined to do the same. Why not? There were all these power women out there, doing just that! Why couldn't I do it? I'll tell you why - once I realized what they were truly talking about, I didn't want it any longer.
Look, I love my home business and I wouldn't change it for the world. However, if my family, friends and loved ones need me - this business gets put on the back burner. I may be wrong in my line of thinking but that's one of the reasons why I started a home business - flexibility. My time is supposed to be flexible. I like it that way. I love knowing that if my nephew calls me to ask me to run and give him a hug, I can do that! I love knowing that if I have a special family gathering coming up, I can go without clearing it with anyone. For me - the people that matter most in my life, come first in my life - without question!
With that said, I still believe you should have a general guideline for your working hours. Specially if you're a work at home parent with young ones around. Otherwise you'll never be productive enough to get anything accomplished. If you want to spend time with your children during the day, get some exercise, work, attend to daily chores, it's imperative you have an outline of a schedule. Just keep in mind that is just that - an outline. It is not carved in stone and it should allow you the flexibility to deal with important issues as they arise.
- Write out a list of required tasks and break that down to monthly, weekly and daily lists. For example, if you do laundry twice a week - write down what days you'll do that. Write down your minimum required hours for work, grocery shopping, exercise routines, play dates.....everything.
- Write out your wish list of things you'd like to accomplish. Let's say you've been dying to join a health club, yet it's never been a huge priority - write it down. This is your list of dreams. If you want to take a painting class or you want to join your local Chamber of Commerce - write it down.
- Write down your household's schedule as it is right now. This may take a week to observe and take notes. You can't outline a new schedule until you are fully aware what your current schedule is.
- Invest in a nice, large daily planner. This is something you shouldn't be afraid to splurge on. Make sure you get one you like. I don't want you to cringe each time you look at it.
Now, we're going to amalgamate your lists into one schedule.
- Looking at your current schedule, make notes in your daily planner about all your required tasks: meal times, laundry, grocery shopping, team practices and play times - everything that is a must do that you know has to be done (or is done) on specific days and times. Don't be afraid to overlap things to make yourself more productive. If you know you can a load of laundry done at the same time you're making dinner, write it down. Just be careful about spreading yourself too thin!
- Now that we have the bones of your schedule laid out, lets add your work hours. If you know you must work a minimum of 25 hours each week to stay ahead, schedule that into your planner. Some days you may work more hours than others. That's okay. That's the beauty of working from home - flexibility! Again, don't be afraid to overlap tasks. If you have numerous postcards to send to your clients/customers, you may be able to do this while you're attending your son's soccer practice! Pack up your postcards, a couple of good pens (in case one runs out), your address list and write them out during practice. I wouldn't advise this during a game as your son would definitely be heartbroken if you missed seeing him kick the winning goal because you were busy working.
- Before you go to the next step, you must schedule time for yourself. Give yourself at least ten to fifteen minutes each and every day for you to be with yourself! Do not overlap anything else with this block of time. This is time for you to enjoy a cup of tea, read, talk to a friend on the phone - just whatever you like to do. This small amount of "Me time" will give you the intellectual and physical energy your body needs to carry you through each day.
- Your schedule is most likely getting very full by now. At the same time, I'm willing to bet you're surprised there are available blocks of time left over. Now is when you add items from your wish list. However, be careful not to fill up every available minute of time there is. If you do so, I guarantee you'll end up frustrated at not fulfilling your daily tasks. Keep in mind that your children will require your help for homework, your spouse will need you to help with a project or lend a supportive ear and your mother will call when she's not "scheduled" to.
Keep your planner with you at all times. Refer to it hourly and check off completed tasks immediately. You'll soon realize you are accomplishing far more than you were before and you're far more productive than you thought imaginable.
Lastly, when you're working, place a sign on your door, forward your calls to voice mail (if possible. However, look at your call display as calls are coming in, just in case your child's school is calling or your spouse is calling from work - it may be urgent) and send your family and friends a cheerful email telling them your working hours for the week. You need to make it as easy as possible for you to be productive while you're working.
If you have toddlers around, have a "Special Toybox" (a Rubbermaid or Tupperware container will do) filled with some of their favorite toys. Pull this out when you're working and make a big deal about it. Let them know that while you're working, they get to play with the "Special Toybox" items and when you're done, that toybox goes away. They will be less likely to wander around and interrupt you if they know their time is limited to play with these toys.
Most importantly, remember the days of June Cleaver are long gone. Besides, I never saw old June parked in front of her computer, answering umpteen different emails, calling customers while at the same time, getting dinner ready! Life is not perfect and neither are we. Do the best you can with what you have available to you. And always remember, your child's request for a hug should outweigh anything else your have scheduled!
About the Author
The author, Dawn Roberts, is the creator of www.Ideas-For-Home-Businesses.com - your complete home business resource. IFHB will help you from the planning stage, straight through to marketing your ideas for home businesses! Learn how you can start, maintain and propel a phenomenally successful home based business!