In addition to getting clients, the other top challenge most home-based business owners face is getting it all done. After all, trying to manage a family and a business under one roof can be a challenge.
The first thing you have to realize if you want to maintain your sanity and avoid burning out is this: YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL!
Sorry to be screaming at you, but I find that most home-based business owners are indeed trying to do it all – especially women. I should know. I used to try as well. And all I got was sick, tired, and burned out.
I’d like to offer 4 pieces of advice to help you get it all done without going crazy or burning out.
Key #1: Set Your Priorities
This involves admitting that you can’t do it all and accepting that’s okay. Sit down and decide what’s most important to you. Will the world come to an end if your bed goes unmade? Hey, I know some people who view bed-making as futile; after all, you’re just going to mess it up again that night! Does it really matter if your kindergartner’s clothes match? If he wants to dress himself, empower him to do so, and don’t worry if he’s wearing a red shirt and green shorts. In the big scheme of things, his empowerment is more important anyway. Home-cooked meals from scratch may be nice, but maybe they’re best saved for the weekends when you have more free time.
Setting priorities for you and your family is a very personal task. The only rule is to do what works for you. So cast your judgments aside, forget about what your mom did or what your neighbors do, and figure out what’s most important to you. Then let the other things slide and learn to be okay with that.
Key #2: Create a Schedule
When you work at home, there are always distractions. That pile of dishes in the sink, calling out to be washed, when you walk by to get a cup of coffee. The overflowing hamper of clothes that beckons you when you take a restroom break. Your child who wants to play when you have an important project you need to finish. All of these are activities that you can get done, when you assign time to do them.
So sit down every week and map out your time. Decide what you will do when, and make sure the entire family knows and understands the schedule. You may even want to purchase a white board calendar and post it where everyone can see it. That way, when Junior wants to play, and it’s work-time for you, you can easily remind him that right now is work time, but in an hour it will be play time and he will receive your undivided attention. Then do your best to stick to your schedule. It won’t be perfect, nothing ever is, but it’s better than just winging it all day long and realizing at the end of the day you haven’t accomplished anything you set out to accomplish.
Key #3: Batch Your time
Time-batching is a concept that will enable you to be efficient with the time you do have, so you can accomplish more. As you’re creating your schedule, “lump” together similar activities. For example, if you write a weekly ezine, write articles for article marketing and you write blog posts on a regular basis, set aside a block of time each week and designate it for writing. If you have errands to run, take care of them when you’re already out, for example after you drop the kids off at school. Designate one or two times of day for checking email and your social networking sites and DO NOT check either the rest of the day (these are two of the biggest time-suckers out there – watch out for them!). Don’t answer your telephone if you’re in the middle of a project. Let calls go to voicemail and return them all at once, when it’s convenient for you (or at the time you’ve scheduled in your calendar to return and make calls).
Key #4: Delegate!
As I like to say, the home-based business mom can “have it all” but she doesn’t have to “do it all.” Start delegating tasks that you don’t like to do or aren’t good at. If you’re operating on a tight start-up budget, start with enlisting the help of your spouse or your children with chores around the house. Even young children can help out and will learn a sense of responsibility and independence when you empower them. Older kids will probably complain when you ask them to pitch in (mine still do!) but when you explain that your family is a team and everyone needs to pitch in to get things done, they’ll learn valuable lessons by participating. And, you’ll be teaching them well for when they’re out on their own.
For example, I taught both of my kids to pack their own lunches when they were in elementary school (a little chart on the refrigerator helped them learn how to pack items from each food group for a balanced lunch) and I taught them to do their own laundry when they were in junior high school. Both took a huge responsibility off of my shoulders and empowered them. Plus, they could no longer complain they didn’t like what was in their lunch or that they had no clean clothes to wear! Now that my kids are 17 and 20 years old, and one lives on her own at college, they know how to take care of themselves quite well.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the tasks on your plate and you just can’t seem to get them all done, I encourage you to implement these 4 steps today. The last thing you want to do is get burned out, because then you’re no good to you or your family. Set up healthy habits now, and as your business and family grows up, you’ll all be happier and healthier.