Keeping Your Home Business Under Control
When you run your business from home, it can become difficult to separate your work life from your home life.
The Challenge of Working from Home
However, I also remind people that it’s not as easy as it might sound. People tend to imagine that working from your home is similar to what’s presented on TV shows: I sit at a desk with a steaming mug of coffee, tap a few lines into a computer, then get up and go shopping or take a nap. Nothing could be further from the truth!
A home business is a constant juggling act. On the one hand, you have to make sure you take on enough work to make a living and cover your expenses – which now include, don’t forget, your own healthcare costs and retirement planning. On the other hand, if you’re not careful your home business can take over your life and make you miserable.
It happens subtly: First, you feel like you can’t turn down work, because unlike a salaried job, if you don’t work, you don’t earn money. Then, you don’t have any real separation from your work. You wake up, and your commute is over – you’re at the office! You blink, and it’s nine at night, and you’ve been sitting at your desk all day. It’s no way to live. You have to take steps to bring your home business under control.
Discipline is Key
First and foremost: You have to have set ‘office hours.’ Don’t get sucked into the idea that working from home means you can work an hour here, and hour there. That leads pretty quickly to working all the time, and that leads to burnout. Sure, this concept becomes a little more difficult when you have other people’s crazy schedules to consider (and I'm talking about children and their school or sleep times, and overseas clients that may need you to be online during their local times, which won’t necessarily equate to your own.)
You don’t necessarily have to work a standard nine-to-five day, but you should have regular working hours and, equally important, regular off-hours. Make sure to include ‘commute time.’ That time spent on a train or in the car where you were able to think and be peaceful right before work was important – replicate it by giving yourself half an hour to read the paper in the morning, and half an hour in the evening to just relax with some music before jumping into your night-time plans.
Physical separation, if possible, is key. Make sure your office is separate from the living areas of your home, if at all possible, and try to keep it exclusively for work use. If you work where you eat lunch where you relax where you watch TV where you sleep, it all just blurs together and your work – and you – will suffer for it.
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