By Marcia Chumbley
First, always be sure that you follow a routine, or schedule. I can't emphasize this part of the balancing process enough! Have a daily routine that you follow the same way every day, from the times you wake up and go to bed each night to when you start work, take a lunch break, and your plans for each day. It helps immensely if you have a planner or organizer to write down your goals for each day and an estimate of when you should start each activity. By keeping a planner for each day, you can keep yourself on track and organized as well as being more productive.
This also helps your family to realize that, just as if you had a job outside the home, there are times when you are "at work" and unavailable to them. You should pick a definitive time each day for you to "go to work" then "come home" at night. These can be hours of your choosing, after all, that is one of the perks of working at home! But make sure your family knows that between those times, you are unavailable to help out because you are working. You may need to reiterate that fact several times before spouses and children catch onto it, but it will be worth it in the end. If you are in a situation where you are the only person taking care of you children while working, then make sure that during your appointed "work hours" that you make work the focus and not your house, or playtime, or errand-running. Schedule all non-necessary tasks so that they fall outside of your work hours.
Next, be sure that you aren't tempted to work during "home time" or to deal with household tasks while working. Everyone - even work at home parents - need time off of work and time to relax and unwind at the end of the day. If you find yourself doing work tasks after your appointed time to "leave work" for the day, then you need to become aware of this and put away the work until the next day.
Also, make sure you give yourself days off! Many work at home parents tend to overlook doing this because as a work at home parent, you tend to have to work twice as hard to make an income than if you were working outside the home. So make sure you take one or two days off work per week to give your mind and body time to relax, as well as to be able to focus on household chores, tasks and work that needs to be accomplished as well.
Finally, the most important part of being able to balance your home and work life is to treat your work as a "real" job. Frequently, work at home moms and dads will work very hard, and be extremely diligent about their work, while treating it like just another activity for the day. This is YOUR business, and it is what you do to make a living, don't act as if it is anything less. Just as if you had a 9 to 5 job, make sure you schedule time to take a half hour or hour long lunch break where you eat and relax and don't work. Be sure to answer only work calls during this time, and not answer your personal phone until work time is over. Treat it as you would treat any job outside of the home and you will be amazed at not only how much work you can accomplish, but how much easier your life becomes!
Respect the fact that this is your life and your chosen job in life, and you will be able to more effectively balance your home and your work at home business. Let your family know your schedule, and the times when you are or are not available. A huge bonus with working at home is the flexibility of your schedule, but you still require a schedule in order to bring balance into your life and home. If you follow the above suggestions, you can bring your life and work back into order.
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