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When you work outside the home, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of working too hard. Maybe it feels like your job depends on it. You might need the money to pay your mortgage/rent and put food on the table, but if it comes at the expense of spending time with your loved ones or sacrificing self-care, then is the money really worth it? Making the switch to working from home and being your own boss can seem like a good solution to this problem. However, finding a good work-life balance when you work from home isn’t always easy.
Now that your home is also your office, you might feel guilty when you’re not working. Or you get distracted by the TV or pile of laundry you need to do.
My motto has always been “Work to live; don’t live to work.” I never struggled with work-life balance until I started working from home for myself. But even now, I’m not consistent. Sometimes I work too much, and it affects my mood and my relationships. Other times I don’t focus on work enough, and it affects my bank balance. I need to find the right balance for me.
If you struggle with finding the right work-life balance for you, here are some tips to follow.
What does work-life balance mean to you?
The first step is to define what work-life balance means to you. How much do you want to work? What percentage of your time do you want to spend working each week? And what percentage do you want to spend on your life including spending time with your family, running errands, doing chores, taking care of yourself, etc.?
Of course, the amount of time you spend working will be tied to how much you need to earn to pay your bills. There’s not much point in saying you want to work 10 hours a week if, at the moment, you can’t earn what you need to earn in that amount of time.
This brings me on to my next point.
Work smarter, not harder
If you want to be able to reduce the number of hours you work but still bring in the same amount of money, you need to find ways to get more done in less time.
Part of working smarter is setting goals and sticking to them.
I recommend that you set SMART goals. This means setting goals that are
Setting SMART goals will ensure that you are very specific about what you want to achieve, you have goalposts against which you can measure your success, you’re choosing the right goals to focus on, and you are giving yourself a deadline to work toward.
Once you’ve set your SMART goals, you need to break them down into quarterly, weekly, and daily goals so that they become actionable. By setting daily goals you know exactly what you need to prioritize each day to meet your overall goals. Your overall goals become less overwhelming when you break them down into bite-sized chunks.
Make sure you track your progress so that you know if you’re on schedule to meet your goals. You can download my free Business Goal Setting Workbook to set and track your goals.
Time blocking involves dedicating a specific chunk of time to a particular task. It’s effective because it allows you to focus on one thing at a time and work more efficiently.
To get started with time blocking you need to identify all the tasks you need to get done.
First, list all your routine tasks. These are tasks you need to get done on a regular basis like answering emails, scheduling social media posts, cold calling prospective clients, etc. It also includes family time, grocery shopping, meal planning, cleaning, laundry, etc.
Next, list any unusual tasks that you have coming up for the next month. This will include things like conferences you’re attending and training seminars as well as personal tasks like a dentist appointment and a weekend trip. Write down anything that isn’t routine so that you don’t forget to add it to your planner later.
Finally, list the tasks you want to make time for. These are your personal goals. They might include writing a book, taking a course, adding an additional service to your business, etc.
Once you’ve identified all your tasks, you need to think about how long each of these tasks will realistically take to complete. Don’t try to fit too much in because it will only lead to you feeling like you failed when you don’t get them all done.
Then block out time on your planner for each task you need to complete. Knowing that you’ve scheduled time to do a certain task will make you more focused and less likely to just drift through the day switching from one task to the next without a plan in place.
Streamline your processes
To save time, automate any tasks that you can.
To save time marketing your business, you can schedule your blog content, email newsletters, and social media posts. You can schedule your blog posts days or weeks in advance. You can also schedule emails or set up an autoresponder that automatically sends out a series of emails once someone signs up. I use ConvertKit to automatically send out a welcome series of emails to new subscribers before they go on to receive my weekly email.
If you’d like to be added to my email list and receive weekly updates on freelancing, working from home, and productivity, then sign up here:
If you post on social media regularly, you can use scheduling apps like Buffer, Hootsuite, Tailwind, or MeetEdgar. It might take you an hour or two one evening to schedule everything, but then all of your social media is done for the week. Of course, it’s important to also actively engage with people on social media but having all your posts go out automatically will save you a ton of time, and it means that you won’t skip a day when you don’t feel like it.
You can also streamline the processes in your home life; for example, planning your meals or meal prepping.
- 6+ Online Business Tools I Use to Save Time
- 3 Ways Meal Planning Can Improve Your Work-at-Home Life
- How Doing a Power Hour Can Boost Your Productivity
Start single tasking
Most of us are under the impression that multitasking is an important skill to have if you want to be successful. However, multitasking can make you less productive. It can cause you to lose time, become distracted, make mistakes, and it can even hurt your brain!
Single tasking is a much better way to stay focused, get more work done in less time, and make fewer mistakes. Switching to single tasking will allow you to carry out your tasks more efficiently and help you avoid overwhelm.
Ask for help
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re struggling to find the right balance. If you find that you don’t have enough time to keep up with household chores, ask your partner/roommates for help with cleaning/cooking.
If you’re at a stage in your business where you can’t keep up with the workload, consider outsourcing some tasks to a virtual assistant. For example, I help an online course creator answer emails about her course from current and prospective students. This frees her up to work on creating more courses and also regain some balance in her life.
Take a break
In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey tells a story about a woodcutter who continues cutting down trees even though his saw is now blunt. The woodcutter says that he doesn’t have time to sharpen his saw because he’s too busy sawing. If the woodcutter had taken a break, sharpened his saw, and then gone back to work with a sharper blade, he would have saved time in the long run.
I think this is a great analogy because it reminds us that we need to take care of ourselves so that we have the physical and mental energy do our best work and avoid burnout.
Make sure that you take frequent breaks throughout the day. Try not to eat your breakfast and lunch at your desk. Make time to go outside every day to get fresh air and spend time in nature. Reduce screen time to give your eyes and mind a rest.
How to stop work from taking over your life
Define what your office hours are
Before deciding on what your office hours should be, consider when your peak productivity hours. This will be the time when you are most alert and have the most energy.
You will also need to consider when your clients are most likely to need you. Are you in a different time zone? If so, you might need to allocate a couple of hours at unusual times to work.
When you have decided what your office hours are, put an out of office response on your email so that current or potential clients know not to expect a response right away. You could also include your office hours on your website contact page and in your email sign off.
Close the door
Close the door to your office when you’re not supposed to be working. If you don’t have a dedicated office and work from the kitchen table, then clear away your work documents at the end of the workday. This will signal the switch from work time to life time.
Stop checking emails past a certain time
I’ve come to the conclusion that the only way to stop yourself from doing this is to turn off notifications. Having them on just increases the temptation. The accessibility of technology makes it hard to switch off, but if you actively avoid checking your notifications, you will feel like you have so much more free time.
You don’t have to take on every single work opportunity that presents itself. There will be projects that don’t align with your goals, projects that pay too little, or clients who you don’t want to work with. I know at the very beginning of setting up your business, you won’t want to turn down any work, and you might end up taking some jobs that you really don’t enjoy. But once you get a bit more established, don’t feel guilty about saying no to projects that aren’t aligned with your goals or values.
Don’t forget to prioritize your life
When you’re sitting only a few feet away from your desk all the time, it can be easy to say Oh, I’m just going to work for an hour. Suddenly, it’s been three hours, and you’ve spent the whole evening away from your family.
Here are some tips to make sure you don’t let that happen.
Schedule it in
The best way to make sure you prioritize your life is to schedule it in. Make sure you schedule in time to spend with your family, time for errands, and time for chores. Don’t just say later or someday soon. If you keep saying that you’ll meet up with that friend for coffee someday soon, it will never happen! If you want to spend more time with your family, schedule a weekly family movie night or a date night.
Make time for things you enjoy like reading or listening to music. Read before you go to bed instead of watching a TV show or scrolling on your phone. This will allow you to wind down and prepares you for sleep.
Take a least one day off per week
You need to completely shut off from work. I work as a VA at the weekends, so I no longer have Saturdays and Sundays completely off. If you’re in the same situation, pick another day. You might feel guilty not doing any work on Mondays when everyone else is out working, but it can be the perfect opportunity to spend some time alone doing things that you like to do.
What if there’s too much life in your work-life balance? Check out this blog post for tips on how to prioritize your work.
More work from home resources
Want to work from home, but you’re not sure how to get started? Check out the Work-At-Home Summit to get all the resources you need to make working from home work for you!
I hope that these tips will help you find the work-life balance you’re looking for. If you have any other tips, I’d love to hear them. Leave a comment down below!
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