It’s 10:00 at night. Your eyelids feel like the Sandman is sitting on them and your body is screaming “GO TO BED!”
BUT, you want to squeeze in just a few more minutes. Just do a “couple more things…”
Congrats. You’ve fallen into the Work-From-Home-Work-Around-The-Clock-Trap. You are SO normal.
Working from home doesn’t mean that you need to work all the time. I know that’s a hard pill to swallow when your workload is staring you in the face and the end-of-the month is looming. But in case you’ve forgotten, the main advantage of working from home is that you can spent quality time with your friends and family. Remember why you opted to work from home? Wasn’t “freedom” and “flexibility” part of that No-More-Working-for-The-Man-and-Punching-a-Timeclock oath?
My workspace is located in the second story of our home and there are times on a Sunday, when I know I have a butt-crack-load load of work that needs to be done, I swear my office starts calling to me like some sort of demented mermaid siren song. But as easy and tempting as it is to “run upstairs and do a few things,” family comes first and I have to trust that I will have the time and space to get my work done during my normal business hours.
Bottom line: No one should be working all the time and I am pretty sure that’s a mistake many of us work at home parents make. Working at home calls for organization, time management and most of all discipline.
Here’s some Quickie Ninja Tips to help you stay strong:
Block it off: Mark your days or hours off on your calendar with either a Big Giant “X” or a smiley face. Resist the urge to schedule stuff in those slots.
Set boundaries for your family: If your kids and hubby know you need to commit to work hours (with as few interruptions as possible) so you can have free time with them it may be easier for them to be disciplined as well.
Set boundaries for YOU: Work hours are work hours and off hours are off hours. Work hard and make the best use of your work time (stay off Facebook!) so you can rest and play with peace of mind.
Set boundaries with clients: My office hours are on my website as well as voice message so people trying to contact me know that I have a life outside of my business.
It’s about working smarter not harder: Whether you are a brand new biz or an established one, setting your goals, boundaries and priorities (and sticking to them) is going to be a huge key to your longevity and success.
Cut yourself some slack during work hours: Committing to your clients/tasks/workload during your business hours does not mean sitting eight hours with your “nose to the grindstone.” Take many “mini breaks” and they don’t have to be long breaks either. Even going out for a walk for 15 minutes so you can refresh will make a world of difference in how well you concentrate afterwards.
Ask for help when you need it: Obviously as a virtual assistant I am a big supporter of outsourcing. However, I am an even bigger supporter of knowing when it is time to step back and take a good honest look at what is working, what’s not and why. If you are having trouble getting your work done during your work time you need to reevaluate your work habits, your time wasters (are you compulsively checking Gmail every two minutes?) and if you need to consider calling in the cavalry. My fellow freelancer Kathleen has created an amazing business with over 10 part-time freelancers helping her with her work load. It’s a win/win. She retains good clients but subbing out the work, takes a small cut for herself, supplies people who need work with work and frees herself up to work on bigger and more lucrative projects. BRILLIANT.
I know you need to make a living, but remember work is not everything. There is family, friends and your hobbies whom you should devote time to as well. I firmly believe that earning all money in the world is not worth sacrificing the most precious moments in your life for. Not only is it ok to take a break, but it is imperative that you do so. Working on your own can be very exhausting. By not taking a break you end up doing more harm than good.
Check out this VERY good article from The Work At Home Mom called If I Don’t Work, I Don’t Get Paid – Is It Okay to Take a Break?