Working From Home: Can You Ever REALLY Have It All?
Many people assume that work-at-home-parents (WAHP's) have it easy. After all, that three-second commute looks pretty amazing to those who have to head off to cubicle-land every day. Yet those of us who have chosen the work-from-home lifestyle know that it often looks much easier than it actually is.
If you find yourself struggling to balance it all – with children to take care of, a house to clean, a dog to walk, groceries to buy, dinner to cook and dishes to wash – and, of course, a business to run – here are a few tips that may help:
1) Use a single planner. Schedule BOTH work time and family time in the same calendar. I like to use color-blocking to make it very clear which hours are for work, which are for family, and which are for self-renewal. When you look at a color-blocked week, you can very quickly see how balanced your calendar really is.
2) Toss out your traditional to-do list. Instead of one long list of everything you have to do, take a single sheet of paper and divide it into four quadrants. In the top-left quadrant, list all the phone calls you have to make. In the top-right quadrant, list all the emails you need to send. In the bottom-left, list all the projects for which you need to schedule time. And in the bottom-right, list all the errands that you need to run.
People who organize their task lists in this way find that their productivity soars. Suddenly, it is easy to sit down at the computer and fire off all the emails you need to send in one fell swoop. Or you can spend 30 minutes on the phone and run through all the phone calls that need to be made.
3) Consider outsourcing what you can. If you find that you are spending too much time on responding to email, returning phone calls, or updating your website, hire a virtual assistant to do those tasks for you. This will free your time up to work on your business, and by spending more time on the parts of your business that actually bring in money, you will be able to increase your profits.
4) Cook once, eat twice. Dinner time is often when we make the shift between work and home. Make that time hassle-free by planning meals that will last your family two days, instead of just one. For instance, you can plan on having spaghetti on Monday and tacos on Tuesday. So, on Monday, brown the hamburger you will need for both days. On Tuesday, half of your work will already be done. And if you are making a meatloaf or lasagna, make two and freeze one for later.
5) Most importantly, do not feel as if you have to do it all by yourself. Despite our best efforts, no one among us is a super hero. Engage your family in meal preparation, errand-running and other tasks that keep your home running smoothly.
When all is said and done, don't forget to take out some time for yourself. Everyone needs a break – WAHP's included!
Submitted by Joy Duling. She is a business coach and Managing Director of A 25 Hour Day, LLC. Check out her company on our Mom's Choice Picks.
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