Wanting to be a work at home parent is a simple decision for many moms and dads who long for more time with their little ones. Finding a way to make that transition possible is not always so easy. Once you are working at home, you will find yourself balances various demands on your time and energy. If you do not work to make the balance work, you will find that you cannot determine what portion of your day is work and what is home or family. There are, however, a few ways that you can begin to make working from home a bit easier.
First, you will need to determine how much time you wish to work on your business each week. You may only be able to put in five hours at the beginning, or you may need to work 40 or more hours to start your business. Either situation will require a bit of planning, but you must know how many hours of your time you need to budget to your business each week.
After you have determined the amount of time you will need to budget, it is important to decide when you will work those hours. You may find blocks of time that are convenient. If you want to work on your business for 10 hours a week and your child goes to preschool for three hours every morning, you have a built-in time in which to work. You probably will find, though, that you must adjust your schedule so that you can steal an hour before the kids wake up and at other times throughout the day. It is vital that you create this schedule now because otherwise, it will be too easy to work too much or to put off work for other tasks.
Now you have a schedule. You will need to make sure everyone else in your family respects it. If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated office space, you should make a sign for your door. Let your family members know that when the sign is posted, you are not available unless it is an emergency. Everyone – your children and your spouse – needs to know that you are working when the sign is posted.
You can still have set hours without an office; it only means that you will have a bit more work to do. Working from a corner in the living room or a portion of your bedroom means that you need to post your schedule elsewhere. Write down your schedule and put it in a highly visible place. Let your family members know that you are working according to that schedule. You will have to stand firm here, too, because you may find it tempting to drop everything and play tea party with your toddler or have a cup of coffee with your partner. You must respect your work hours, though, from both ends. When your workday stops, come out of your office and give your full attention to your family. If you do not, then you will find that you never get a break and can face burnout.
Your family members will not be the only ones who will take advantage of your time once you begin to stay at home. If the ladies at church or the neighborhood with several small children or your good friend who is a stay at home mom or scores of other people find out that you work from home, they will begin to invade on your time. Your schedule becomes vital to your success here as you will need to make sure that you do not cave in when they ask for favors or to go out. Be firm about your work. It is acceptable to remind other that you do work from home, and you need to spend your days working so that you can spend other time with family and friends. If you must, do not answer the phone during the day. Answer personal email only in the evenings. Make conscious decisions to use your time to work.
When you first begin working from home, it is important to keep a log of what you do with your work time. You may think that you are working solid for four hours a day, but a detailed breakdown could reveal that you only work three hours and spend the other hour surfing the net or doing meaningless tasks. Write down everything you do and times associated with the tasks for the first two weeks you are working at home. Then evaluate your list and see what you need to change and if there are areas where you could improve.
Remember that working from home still means that you are working. You must take yourself – and your business – seriously if you expect anyone else to. If you are clear about your schedule, then you will find that other people will be more likely to treat your business with the respect it deserves.