How to work from home and keep a balanced life

Working from home can be a huge asset, as long as you follow a few principles so it does not get out of hand.

Before we dive into those principles, let’s talk about the process you should follow to find what you need. Indeed you need to figure out what challenges you may have to overcome. Know what you are up against and you have won more than half the battle.

In preparing this post, I read quite a few other posts, and many of them have great advice. Probably too much advice in most cases. One article that stood out is an article just published from Business Opportunities Weblog with very good advice if you have young children roaming freely at home. One thing I found lacking, though, is that they are missing the first step, and that step is critical. Everyone’s situation is different, so what you need to do is first identify the challenges you face.

This is a step you can do just by yourself, or you can talk it out with a good friend. Once you’ve discovered what it is you need to address, then you can go looking out for advice and address the problems you face. Or if you are just getting started, you can start with what you think is most likely to get in your way. And plan on reviewing it every year to make any adjustment that may be necessary.

Here’s the list of challenges you may face:

You need to be able to concentrate for long enough so you can make progress, you need to be able to stay the course, you must be on the phone with suppliers or customers, you have to find the “stuff you need”, whether that’s an invoice, a brochure, or a bill you need to pay.

Again, your situation may have different challenges, and the fist step is to identify these challenges so you can plan accordingly. So you can minimize, or better yet, eradicate each one so that you can develop your business.

Once you have completed your this initial phase, you can go look for answers and here are a few pointers to get you started.

Getting the focus you thrive

You need to keep your business and your home life separate, so Make the switch. It can be several times a day if necessary, but make a conscious switch. You can use a physical prop, like once you are in your office, you are 100% dedicated to your business, and once you get out that door, you are back home. As if your were “going to the office”. It is ok to take several breaks a day, maybe a long lunch as long as it is part of a set schedule, and stick to it as much as it is practical.

You also need to negotiate your alone time, so other family members know when it is ok to interrupt, and when it is not. Lay down the law from the get go, define boundaries (like, yes, if it is a real emergency, that’s ok, you can interrupt me). In fact, try to get your family to support (as opposed to merely go along with you) so they have a stake in the game too. Explain the benefits of working from home (no commute, there for emergencies, …) versus need to work (extra income…).

Getting a quiet and professional setting

Find a quiet place for your office, in a remote part of your house if you can. Make it a well define zone. A door would greatly help too.
Get a good, neat, un-encumbered work surface. A messy office will drain your energy.
Get separate equipment (phone, computer) so it clear when the phone rings whether it is for business or family matters, plus you won’t have to negotiate with your teenager about who’s turn it is to hog the phone for the next hour. Plus, having separate equipment is easier to turn it off (see “Make the switch”)

Get Organized

First of all, get your day started on a good note: get something done right away, and no, I don’t mean checking your email or voicemail or stats. No peeking, ok! You can do that a bit later and you will already be ahead for the day!
At the end of the day, plan your next day so you don’t have to think about it till the next day. And in the event you still have to think about it, just jot down a few notes on a piece of paper, and leave it on your desk for the next day. And also, at the end of the week, review your progress.
Get a good filing system (easy to access, easy to add, easy to reference something)

Key takeaways:

– Figure out what your challenges are
– Minimize each one

If you follow that process, your success is within reach!

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