I am big on boundaries, they help me to keep order in our lives. It helps the kids to know whats happening and creates a sense of stability for everyone. It is not always easy to set boundaries but they are so important, more so when you are working from home.
Create a set work space. If you live in a small home, you may have to get creative but take the time to do this. Set up your office/desk somewhere and avoid changing it around. We have 6 people living in a 3 bedroom townhouse, so space is limited but we converted our dinning room in an office. Even though our lower level is open plan, there is a clear boundary around the space. This helps you separate work from home physically. When you are in your office, your work hat is on and when you step out of that, your mom/wife hat is on. Your children will probably leave you to work easier if they understand the boundaries.
Set work times. Working from home with kids means working before they wake up and after they go to sleep, I am not saying do not do that because sometimes it happens. These times are more for your clients. Let your clients know upfront that you are available to take calls between certain times and emails will be answered between certain times. This creates realistic expectations upfront and prevents you trying to cook dinner while dealing with clients on the phone or replying to emails. The first year of my business I answered every single call! I was a wreck and the more calls I answered the more clients called. When I stopped doing this, my stress reduced and I was actually able to help my clients better because when I was on the phone with them I was focused and there were no distractions. Do not feel bad about this. Retail outlets have set times, offices have set times, why should you be available 24/7 just because you work from home.
Take a break. Just because our time is often limited when we work from home, doesn’t mean we can’t take breaks. Taking regular breaks are vital, office workers take breaks often and these breaks are so important, especially when you are working on your own. If you are struggling with this, set an alarm and make sure you get up, make some coffee, walk around the block or something that is not related to work.
Communicate. Talk to your family about what is happening and what your needs are. Workloads vary, some weeks are calm and others are chaotic and you need a little more time to get stuff done. Ask your partner for a little extra help with the things he is able to help with. Explain to your kids that you are going to be a little extra busy for a few days, kids understand more than you realise. Plan a fun activity with the kids for after your deadline, so that they have something to look forward too and you can get a break.
Boundaries can help you manage your work life balance, they are probably the biggest key to manage the balance because you can set the boundaries that set up the life you want. Once you have set your boundaries, do not waiver and never apologise for them.
It can take some time to figure these boundaries out and if you are just starting out your entrepreneurial journey, it may seem impossible to say no to clients or to only work a set amount of hours per day. It took me a while to figure this out but once I tightened the boundaries, work actually got easier and my clients where happier.
Do you have boundaries in place? What are some that work for you?