As a mom who works from home, it can be easy to blur the lines between work and family. But overlapping these two corners of our world can easily cause either work or family to suffer; many times both work and family suffer by blending these lines and failing to set healthy boundaries.
How can you prevent these areas of your life from suffering? Set business rules and stick to them. Every successful business in the world is successful because it has a set of rules that it adheres to. Process management, policy and routine aren’t just for the corporate arena. Build your own set of rules, and stick to them no matter what.
Create a Mission Statement
Mission statements are a critical part of any successful business. They outline the reasons why the business exists, and exactly what it plans to accomplish. Creating a mission statement for your professional venture shows that you mean business! You plan to accomplish specific goals for a special purpose, and drafting a mission statement allows you to solidify those goals with a purpose, effectively communicate them to your team and your market.
Your mission statement should not only reflect your business goals, but also your personal goals. As a mother, you may want to consider including a clause in your mission statement regarding family. Putting family first should be your first objective. Your kids need your presence, love, and devotion more than they need material items that your business can provide. Make it a priority to put family first, business second. Consider creating a family mission statement that everyone participates in and hold each other accountable when the crazy of life begins to chip away at your focus and routine.
Successful businesses also have business hours. When the shop closes, business is done for the day, and does not continue until the next business day. Set your own hours and adhere to them. If you need to, set alerts in your Google Calendar that your work day is starting, and when it is ending.
For example, you could start your work day at 9:00AM and quit at 3:00PM. This gives you 6 solid hours of work per day, and still allows you to set aside time for family responsibilities. For many moms, the kids are at school between these hours. Focusing on your work while the kiddos are otherwise occupied will help to increase your productivity. Because let’s face it, your kids are too awesome to spend time working when you could be playing with them instead.
Do not let work-at-home guilt get in the way. Small business owners often feel pressured to be always available to justify their departure from the corporate arena. Don’t! Set your healthy boundaries by communicating routine hours of operation. Stick to it! Use your spouse, your business partner, your bestie Google Calendar, your kids to help you keep your schedule.
It’s Not A Hobby
Your business is not something to keep you busy while you are bored. Your business is a legitimate source of income and resources for your family. I’m sure we all know this in our hearts, but it’s easy to forget. Always treat it as such. Deliberate steps like creating a mission statement, setting business hours, and adhering to specific business rules is so important to your success as a working mom and sets the expectation that this is your job.
By implementing these rules and procedures into your current business model, you’ll start to see a greater differentiation between work and family. This will help you to keep the two concepts separate, and allow both work and family to thrive.
How Do I Know?
I left my routine corporate job about a month ago now (I still contract out with them, I just don’t have a 9-5 office routine). At first, I was overwhelmed and excited by all the “free time” I’d have to pour myself into my business. I very rapidly discovered that it only took a few days for all of that new “free” time to get filled with phone calls, meetings, to dos and more. Within just two weeks, I was incredibly burnt out and working 16 hours days. All day while the kids were in school, sometimes even when they were home and stuck watching TV while I frantically tried to keep up, and then late into the night after they were in bed.
I think a big part of me was trying to justify why I left my office job. I felt guilty and pressured to prove to everyone that I was so busy I had to leave just to keep up. That was absolutely true! I did have enough work to satisfy a full time commitment. But I took it one step further and took on even more, pushing myself to my limit in order to feel like I had made the right decision. It took a direct conversation with someone I hold dear to realize I had stopped saying “no” to the wrong things and started saying “yes” to all things.
So I made a change. I wrote down a daily schedule. From the second I get up, to the second I go to bed, I mapped out my day. Breakfast, devotionals, writing time, breaks, gym time, kids to school, client care…it all made the list. Then I wrote down a weekly schedule. I picked two days (Tuesday/Thursday) that I approved for client meetings, conference calls, on site visits, etc. The rest of the week I reserved for in home/in office work. Focused energy with no interruptions. I declared Sunday to be a day of rest – absolutely no work allowed. I decided Saturday could be a catch up day if my kids were with their Dad, but would also be a no work day if they were with me.
I wrote this schedule down on my giant chalk board with my special someone looking over my shoulder in happiness (and relief!). I made a promise and asked everyone important in my life to hold me accountable. I even posted it on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter and challenged my followers, friends and family to join my accountability circle. And now, I’m sharing it here. With you!
I’m just a few days into this new routine, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much it has improved my day-to-day life. It’s relieved stress and anxiety, and I’ve even found myself accomplishing more with seemingly less time! Turns out, focused energy works smart, not hard. Late night energy…working hard, not smart. Scheduling your day down to the minute might feel trivial, but give it a try. You may find, like me, that it completely changes your perspective, energy and ability to confidently accomplish your goals. Let me know how it works for you!