How to Manage Your Work-Life Balance
When you’ve successfully marketed your new full-time gig, eventually, you’ll turn a corner. Rather than finding work, your new focus will shift to finding the time and space necessary to complete the work.
Congratulations! All of those daydreams you had at your previous gig’s cubicle about what it would be like to set your own hours have finally come to fruition.
There’s just one problem: freedom comes with its own challenges, many of which you may not even be used to handling.
How to Work from Home
You wake up at 9 a.m. and have the house all to yourself. While you make the morning coffee, you think there’s no reason to change out of your pajamas, not when there’s no one to see you work. At 10 a.m., you think about shutting off the TV and getting down to work. There will be emails to check and plenty to do. Well, you think, maybe at 10:30. At noon, you go to lunch, and say you’ll start work afterwards.
Don’t become that kind of entrepreneur (is that really an entrepreneur at all?).
Working from home requires a delicate balance of motivation, productivity, and distraction-cutting.
Taking the office out of your job can have an interesting effect on your motivation. In order to reduce it, try to recreate an office environment from home as much as you can. (One tip: incorporating the “Eliminating Distractions” section will also help with this).
Jenifer Kramer of Jenerosity Marketing told Inc.com that she dresses as if she’ll be going to an actual office—even if her desk is her only destination. Another entrepreneur, Catherine Waldron, agreed, saying that being dressed for work serves as a constant reminder not to slack off.
You can incorporate this into another method of getting daily motivation: building a morning routine. Even if it’s as simple as breakfast, a shower, and (moving on into the “Productivity” phase of our advice) writing a daily checklist, it’s important to start on the right foot. Because once the morning’s best moments are gone, there’s no getting them back.
There is a lot of power in a daily checklist. Upon setting to work in the morning, come up with the five important tasks you need to accomplish that day. Make the most important task your first task. David Weliver at Money Under 30 recommends the practice, noting that pilots run their flights the same way.
Another tip: work for the proverbial weekend. Give yourself a time to “go home” from work. It’s better to draw lines in the sand rather than slack off all day at home and let your work seep into your personal time. Once you define when your free time begins, you’ll be more likely to spend your professional time wisely.
What’s more, at the end of the day when your work is done, you’ll be free to think about your personal life and share time with your family.
There are distractions to be had at the office, sure—a co-worker visiting you while he procrastinates, or your seventh boss coming to tell you about covers on your TPS reports. But at home, the distractions are especially powerful precisely because you can indulge in them if you so choose.
Here are a few tips for keeping your home office a distraction-free environment:
- Install a Chrome or Firefox extension that keeps you off of distracting websites. LeechBlock for Firefox alone is a great tool as it allows you to set “work hours” every day.
- Be “out of the house.” Even if you can’t be physically out of the house, be mentally out of the house. Don’t answer the phone and don’t answer the door for the UPS man. Go so far as to post your office hours on your home office door.
- Work in distraction-free “blocks” of time. With your daily checklist in hand, give yourself a solid chunk of time to work on each particular point. It’s important not to interrupt yourself with email or Facebook checking, because each distraction doesn’t only sap your time, but saps your productive momentum.
Tools for Running a Home Business
Running your business from your home office is not only in 2014, but it’s downright easy. Easy, that is, as long as you know which tools to use to handle your logistics effectively and present the appearance of a full-functioning business to your potential clients:
- Earth Class Mail. Separate your home office from your mailing address while using the Web to manage your mail—no matter where you are.
- WebEx and/or Skype. If you’ve been in business, you’ve heard of these by now—they can be used to have a meeting, at home, with people all across the globe.
- Grasshopper. Want to have a separate office phone number? Want someone to write down the voicemails you receive? Hey, we think we’re essential for separating your work life from your home life.
How to Work from Elsewhere
Having your own business in this day and age doesn’t necessarily require that you work from home. Sometimes it pays to work at an office. Remote office locations can eliminate distractions, allow you to meet more effectively with clients, and—if you have employees—even become a downright necessity.
In moving from a part-time gig to a full-time business, however, there’s a chance you won’t have the budget for a big-time office. What are your other options?
Allan Young, founder of the San Francisco coworking space Runway, said that he’s trying to “kill the idea of the garage startup.” How? Coworking space is cheap and effective—the only downside is that you have to share it with others.
In that way, co-working spaces aren’t a far cry from your previous full-time gig. There’s an office environment, other people at your “job” to interact with, and plenty of distraction-free shelter. What’s more, these spaces often offer flexible pricing and rental options that don’t require a huge up-front investment.
Use a service like ShareDesk or an app like Desktime to search through available coworking spaces in your location. Virtual office providers like Regus are national outlets that provide the same services.
Getting Your Own Office
Laura Spencer at Freelance Folder wrote a guide to deciding whether or not you should rent office space for yourself. She lists a number of advantages, including face-to-face time with clients, a distraction-free environment, and the ability to make a mess if you so desire.
The drawback? Cost.
Offices simply cost more than the other options for working we’ve listed in this chapter. However, if you have employees or a “brick and mortar business” that requires frequent in-person interaction, then an office is not only an investment, but a necessity.
There are lots of variables at this point. Should you lease or buy your office? Where should your office be located? What amenities do you need? What amenities might your employees, if you have them, need? In A Beginners Guide to Office Space, James Bucki highlights these precise questions.
To begin your search for office space, you can use the following sources: