The best reason for having a home business is that it can allow you more free time with your family. But what happens when that free time starts taking time away from your business? Sure, you might argue that spending time with your family is the reason you run a business from home, but if it’s not successful, it’s defeating the purpose. The best way to successfully build your home business without sacrificing free time is to treat it like an office job.
1. Set working hours for your business
At an office job, you have set working hours. You may not punch a timecard, but there’s a set timeframe during which your boss expects you to be in your chair working. In your home business, you’re the boss, so set the same kind of expectations for yourself. The main benefit of working from home is being able to set your own hours. However, it’s a problem if you never actually set those hours. You should determine the amount of time you want or need to spend each day working your business. You can set hours week to week or even day to day. Keep in mind what else might be going on in your household at certain times of the day and set your hours accordingly. The key is to know what hours you’ll be working so you can make the most of your time.
2. Keep your family in the loop
Your family knows what hours you’re at an office job. You get up, you get dressed, you leave for the office, you come home at the end of the workday. Make sure your family knows what hours you’re working your business at home too. Have a family meeting to share information about your business, including what time you’ll be "at work." You could even post your hours on your home work space door or your refrigerator.
3. Be productive during working hours
When you have an office job, you don’t schedule things during working hours unless you take time off. The same thing applies with your home business. Don’t schedule appointments or events during the hours you’re supposed to be working, if you can help it. If you can’t avoid it, be sure to work some "make-up" hours if necessary to keep yourself on track. Being flexible is a work-from-home benefit, but don’t take advantage of that flexibility too much or your business will suffer the same way your job would if you spent too much time away from the office.
4. Set up a separate place for your business
Your office job is obviously in a separate place altogether from your home. Setting up a separate place at home to run your business is vital to keeping yourself organized and focused. At the office, you wouldn’t be sitting on a couch in front of a TV while working. Don’t fall into that trap at home. If you’re able to, set up your business in a room with a door away from your main family area. Make sure family members know this is your work space, and when you’re there, you’re working. If you don’t have an extra room to dedicate to your business, set up a corner of your least-used room or a room with the least distractions. Keep all of your business materials close at hand so you’re ready to work.
5. When working hours are over, leave your work behind
Coming home from an office job means leaving the office behind. But working a business from home can make that hard to do. When your working hours at home are over, put your work aside. If possible, shut the door to your work space. If that space is just a corner of the kitchen, put away all of your business things. When work to be done is staring you in the face, you feel like you should be doing it. But you’ve set your hours, remember? Don’t let that paperwork guilt you into sacrificing free time or time with family. Your free time isn’t really free, after all. You’ve earned it by working hard. So, enjoy it without feeling guilty.
A good balance between your home business and your family time doesn’t happen by chance. By treating your business like an office job, you’ll be able to build it successfully and still enjoy the free time its flexibility offers.