More and more entrepreneurs are setting up a home office, which means that more and more entrepreneurs have to find a way to balance their work and the rest of their life. This topic was brought to my attention by a regular CarolRoth.com contributor, Adelaide Zindler of Home Office Mommy, so thanks Adelaide!
As usual, I reached out to my network of valued experts and entrepreneurs and I am excited to present 95 strategies to help achieve some semblance of balance in your life when you are working from home (in no particular order).
You may notice some similar themes, but I kept the insights separate, as something in the way it is framed may resonate differently with you.
1. Turn it Off!
When I'm finished working for the day, I turn my computer off. That way I'm not tempted to peek at my inbox when I'm supposed to be playing with my kids!
2. It's Hard!
Working from home is one of the hardest things I've done, and not for the reasons I expected. I thought I'd be distracted by things to do around the house, but it's the opposite, work distracts me from home life. I've found it's important to set hours and keep them. I've also found it's good to literally shut the door to the office so I'm not tempted to check email "real quick." I don't always succeed, but find I'm more sane (and a better business woman and wife) when I stick to my rules.
3. Dress for Success!
When you go to work in the next room you need to dress for business. Yes, you can sit in front of your computer in your PJs but it screams to your kids and spouse that you aren't really on the job. So, take a shower, put on your business duds and step next door into your office. When work time is over, step back into your play clothes and enjoy your life.
4. Structure/Time-Chunks Rock
One of the most common challenges for home-based entrepreneurs is managing home and work while in one environment. Successful management of both is based in structure; even a loosely defined one. As an example, I don't have specific office hours, but I do have a daily accomplishment list (handwritten at the beginning of every day) and I work in timed 30-minute blocks during which I am allowed NO interruptions! This allows me laser-focused time on specific tasks to obliterate my to-do list.
5. Divide and Conquer
The best strategy to achieve business success while working from home is to divide and conquer. Designate defined space for business activities, set boundaries for your work schedule, and treat the business as if your home and family depend on it. With discipline and focus, prosperity will flow in the business, and joy will flow in the home. It's a sweet victory.
6. Something's gotta give!
I tend to be a work-aholic - so I knew that one of my biggest challenges in working from home was going to be about balance. I decided that I would book my calendar off for a full week at least once every 2 months. It's tough to stay true to this but I learned that the world didn't stop turning & I am healthier for it. Managing my work/life balance by doing this helps me provide a better quality product because I'm not mentally fatigued. It also alleviates guilt because my family gets time too!
7. More Energy for Playtime!
Price yourself based on the value you provide. Focus your attention on those who are willing to pay your price. Ignore those that don't. You'll make more money in less time, with less effort and have more energy for playtime.
8. Be Present
The best strategy for work/home balance is to be 100% present. If you are at work be 100% present. If you are at home be 100% present. To do less is to cheat those who depend on you and/or those who love you. If you are not going to give a task or a person your full attention, then don't be surprised by results that fall far short. Absolutely no one wants or deserves half a loaf. No matter what you are doing - focus.
Thanks to: Mitch Carnell.
9. What NOT to Do...
If you work at home, WORK at home. It's as simple as that. Spouses need to be mindful of this. Just because you are working from home does not mean you watch the kids while he/she plays golf or runs errands "for a few hours".
This is your workplace and treat it as such, even though the commute is short and there is no dress code.
10. Balance Shmalance!
Work life balance? It doesn't exist. What does exist is blending your life and work so your work brings you satisfaction, joy and freedom. My best strategy is to find work that you love so it doesn't feeeeeel like going to a JOB. Then create a list of the things in your life that are important to you - like a bucket list.
As you do the work you love each day find one item that brings you joy from your list and do it - that's right make the time and do it!
11. Balance Through Productivity
Get a second, larger monitor to plug in to your laptop. If you are like me and need to be mobile some of the time so you use a laptop as your primary computer go ahead and invest in making your screen real estate larger. Get the biggest monitor that you can afford and expand your screen area.
This simple addition to my home office has easily increased my productivity by 60 to 100%. Depending on what you are working on it can be an amazing aid to your writing, design, or whatever.
12. Create Sacred Space
In order to get my "focus intensive" work done, such as writing and product development, I block out sacred time where I allow nothing to interrupt me...no emails, phone calls, pets, children, friends or mindless chores. I even store food, coffee and water on my desk to make sure I stay focused as much as possible. This technique has helped me to be prolific, writing books, blogs, and podcasts I could have never completed if I had allowed the normal distractions to interrupt my creativity.
13. Use it or Lose it!
You CAN use all 24 hours daily any way that works best for you.
I'm a night owl so I do admin & email stuff after my daughter is in bed. That frees up daytime to take a yoga class for relaxation or run an errand without crowds.
It's my responsibility to care for myself, my family & my business. God gave me 24 hours to accomplish those 3 things. No sense stressing out to make them fit into artificial time slots. Instead, schedule when it makes the most sense for your natural style.
14. Organize Your Work, Your Life
My best tip for working from home is simple: organization. Keep a neat workplace, preferably dedicated just to your work. Use a filing system for financial data, correspondence, customer names & addresses, etc. Keep contact information handy and be sure to notate those little things you need to remember about those contacts (i.e. "Call after 10 a.m.," or "Three children: Matt ('99), Amy ('03) and Ivan ('08)."
Back up your computer files regularly and keep the backup file away from your office.
15. Time Out for Stress Relief
Working at home, there's no boss gauging how much "slack time" I'm taking. I like to take a couple minutes out of each hour for meditation, prayer, stretching and other self awareness activities. They create a powerful momentum behind the scenes that you may not even notice. The results will surface, however, and create a profound sense of peace in your life.
Healthy nutrition, physical exercise, a healthy amount of break time (not procrastination) also help lead to peace and productivity.
16. Home Entrepreneurs Best Friend
A number of years ago I read in The Power of Full Engagement by Jim Joehr & Tony Schwartz that in the pulse of life, ultradian rhythms call on us energetically to rest and recover every 90 to 120 minutes. Interestingly to me, my dog seems to have that cycle that calls to her to go out and play ball. Working from home goes beyond work and life balance. It also includes balancing things throughout the day. If you don't have a dog to help you, borrow a neighbor's or set a timer to remind you.
17. Boundaries for Balance
Don’t let work spill into your home life. This can easily happen if you are not clear on your boundaries. Your first boundary should be to dedicate a room to be your office where nothing personal can creep into your work and vice versa. Also determine your work schedule so you do not let it bleed into your personal hours. Be sure to create agreements with other members of the household to include when you are at "work” and when you are at “play” so that the lines are never blurred.
18. Routines Rule!
Whether I'm at home or at the office, it's important to have a routine for getting into the groove. A lot of times entrepreneurs end up wandering aimlessly from task to task at home instead of setting a set schedule and finishing all the tasks on the to do list. Having a routine and sticking to it keeps productivity at home high.
19. Involve Them All!
With our five children that we home-school (ages 2-8), working from home as we develop more Spanish Curriculum is difficult, to say the least. So, I call on my scheduling talents. I announce to the world at (about) the same time each day that "it's WORKING time!" And my children all call out what THEY will be working on. We devote 2 hours to work, and then come together to celebrate our progress. Everyone wants to share something, including me! So I'm SURE to accomplish at least SOMEthing!
20. Structure, Structure!
Create the same structure you would if you were in an external office. Start and end the day at the same, specific time. Take your lunch break and two brief breaks during the day. You can use that time to throw in a load of laundry or make personal phone calls. At the end of the work day, close the office door and do not go back in until morning. Would you keep running into an external office?
21. There's No Place Like Home
Working from home is not like working from the office. There are far too many distractions, like refrigerators and TVs, and there's no one looking over your shoulder. You've got to be more focused, organized and disciplined in order to be productive working from home. But it also has its advantages, like refrigerators, TVs and solitude. And you can start work in your pajamas when you roll out of bed. Maintain an efficient routine and enjoy the rewards of this comfortable environment.
22. Gotta Be Disciplined
I treat working from home like working in an office. Even though my morning commute is two flights of steps, I use it to get into a work frame of mind and get focused on what I will accomplish that day.
I have a morning ritual. I respond to emails, post my blog, do several twitter posts and retweets. This ritual gets me into the swing of things.
I spend the rest of the morning working on important, but not urgent activities. I reserve the afternoon for my urgent and important tasks.
23. Be Assertive
My home office has a really cool tool. It's called a door. When I'm writing a post or on the phone consulting, I let my wife and my daughter know that there's to be no interruptions, unless it's an emergency. Then, I close my door.
Sometimes, this strategy even works.
24. Step Away From the Email!
It can be difficult to turn off the computer and step away from the email, but I have found that I'm more productive when I give myself time limits and deadlines. Setting a business appointment or personal appointment in the middle of the afternoon also gives me better structure for my day and a greater sense of urgency to complete the most important tasks.
25. Block it Out
Wear your "strategic hat" to plan out your week hour by hour. Then put on your "employee hat" to work that plan. If it's not scheduled, work it in for next week. But you can schedule time each week for these unforeseen tasks. Block out home-life activities until the appointed time on your schedule.
26. The See/Saw Myth
The see/saw (or teeter-totter) is often the first image our mind generates when the work life balance question is raised. Unfortunately, as with many metaphors, this image distorts our understanding of the concept. Balance in the work / life sense is more about equity than equality. Perfect equilibrium is not the goal, awareness is. From a position of awareness we can make conscious choices. Without momentum, the seesaw is just a seat!
27. A Question of Balance
Working at home is fantastic if you can do it right. I've shown big time film producers my set-up and while they love it, when they tried it, it was too distracting with family around. But it can work. First, create a separate work space. Second, there's no need to shun family members...rather just let them know that during certain hours you will be at "work". But feel free to take breaks and visit family, eat together, do yoga, whatever...it's all a "Question of Balance" as the Moody Blues said.
Working from home needs just as much, if not more discipline as one needs when working at an office. There can be many distractions, including spouse, kids, the phone and of course, the many household tasks that need to be accomplished. What works for me is maintaining a schedule for myself, just as I do at the office. Time blocking and making sure you are maintaining a discipline that you can hold yourself accountable to will help lead you to being effective while having a work and life balance.
29. Schedule Family
When working from home, it is easy to get sidetracked. Kids, spouses, pets and that lonely pillow send out a dangerous siren's call. Don't do it!
Instead, strictly schedule your time. Include sacrosanct family time -- schedule it like you would a very important client meeting. During that time, disconnect from work completely and genuinely enjoy your time with one another -- play, laugh, love and squeeze out every drop of happiness you can. Family is what makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Set aside a room for your office. Keep regular office hours, and when the time's up, lock the door and don't go back until office hours the next day. Your home is your sanctuary. Keeping it separate keeps you sane.
31. Take a Break from Work!
Have a definite start time; take breaks AWAY from your desk; take an HOUR break for lunch - away from your desk; and LEAVE the office at a set time. You CANNOT be effective or efficient if you're sitting all day without a break or food, especially if you insist on working more than 9-10 hours. Normal work hours (i.e., 9-6 pm) and periodic breaks WILL make you better at what you're doing. (Do not let housework creep into your work schedule and do not work on Saturday or Sunday.)
32. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
I work from home and it can be a challenge. If you can't focus on what you need to do, don't do it. Have three lists, your "Urgent List", "Current List", and "Want to Do List". Start off with your "Urgent List", drift to your "Current List", and absolutely do one thing on your "Want to Do List" per day. Schedule it in! Right now, it is 6:00 and I am going to go ride my horse. See you tomorrow.
33. Cultivating Work Life Serenity
To avoid burnout when slamming on a deadline or navigating through digital chaos, cultivate stillness by creating a 3-step exit strategy. First: throw a post-it note on your computer which says "stop"; it'll remind you to take 3 deep breaths a few times a day. Second: once a day, walk away from the computer and do something completely unrelated to work. Third: design a consistent routine to cultivate some inner calm. Meditate, take a walk around the block or read a contemplative passage.
34. Finding Joy at Work
Generally successful people work a lot of hours. And when you work from home, it's even harder to get away from your work. Part of finding joy at work is to remember to ask for help when you need it. This allows you to spend your time doing something for yourself.
You don't have to hire an employee; there are many college students that are looking for internships. Look for other professionals to barter with and don't overlook seniors, many are willing to volunteer to keep busy.
Thanks to: Brenda Gustafson.
35. Keeping the Balls in the Air!
Entrepreneurs who work from home often struggle with keeping all the balls in the air, however, at some point, there are likely too many to juggle. To manage work/life harmony when you work from home, create boundaries/parameters separating work from home life. This can be as simple as: closing your office door when you are done, not doing laundry and talking to a client at the same time, and definitely, dress as if you are working or going to an office (clients can tell if you are wearing pajamas).
36. Keeping it Real
Finding work/life balance when you work from home is an ongoing struggle. You may never achieve the perfect mix. But when necessary, tip the scales toward family and children. That's what will truly define you and your success. That keeps it real. Now I've got to run. The baby is crying.
37. Put it Away!!
Half the battle of working from home is knowing when work is done and home begins. If you have a dedicated office, the trick is to make a time when the door must be closed – and then close it. If, like me, your work takes over your home, then make a time when you must put it all away – every file, document and paper clip. Work’s done, now it’s home.
38. Working with Eccentricity
How do you keep your sanity when you seriously have someone at home who has lost theirs - and you work at home? Well, you have to be creative - being willing to laugh and stop taking everything so seriously. Once you can do that then some really creative thinking starts. You think outside the box because there isn't a box anymore, it's a brand new fluid organic shape that doesn't confine you anymore.
While it is certainly not the life we planned, it is more fun, creative and spontaneous.
39. "Brain, it's Time to Work!"
I take a shower every morning before starting any work. It tells my brain, 'It's time to work'! Believe it or not, I don't work as effectively when I take a shower in the middle of my work day. It is said that water helps to get the creative juices flowing. That's why ideas come to us in the shower. I use that time to start focusing on the tasks ahead and I am usually amazed at how the strategies start to flow. It never fails! Try it! As a writer, showers before writing is a must have tool.
40. Create the "Go to work" Area
It's tough working at home sometimes because you can get caught in doing other things around the house and not finishing what you started. It's also hard if you don't have a certain "go to work" place where you can do your work. If you have it all over the place, it can be harder to get work done. Designate an area or room that is the "go to work" area so you can focus on what you need to get done. That way, when you leave the room it's like you "leave the work at work."
Separate space, separate time, separate equipment, separate phone line(s), separate supplies, separate furniture are all key to work, life balance. It's almost impossible to balance parts if you can't identify the parts. Keeping work and family space, time and things separate allows you to balance. The only thing you should interleave is your calendar so you can actually balance your work and life time.
42. Double Duty
Have 2 computers; one dedicated to business and one for personal use only. I find that on the computer there is a big area where business time can bleed into personal time and vice versa, which can create a multi-tasking on steroids situation. Separate computers help me stay focused on business and enjoy personal time all the more.
43. Don't TWEET Where You EAT!
"Working from home" is great, as long as it’s not "living at work"! Creating physical boundaries for doing work has helped us maintain a healthy work/life balance. If you're updating your Fan Page from the toilet, or Tweeting from the breakfast table, it's time to set boundaries. Dedicated space that is decorated, organized, and set up for work can help you keep your work separate from a hectic home life.
44. Your Business is a Job
My best home business tip? Always remember to treat your home business like a business. Or more accurately like a job. During work hours work. During non-work hours don't work. This is not always easy. It's not always possible. But the closer I come to following that simple prescription, the better my business life and my personal work out.
45. Don't Force Yourself
Being a Professional Organizer and working with WAHM (work at home moms) one of the biggest tips I give them is ...Don't force yourself to get up earlier or stay up later. Know when you are at your peak and use that extra time to work on your business. It is amazing after implementing just this one little thing, how much they say their productivity goes up.
46. On and Off - Just Be Clear
This one's so simple, most don't think of it - so allow me!
Set limits on time - schedule your in-home work, then stick to that schedule. When you're on, be on, but when you're off - be off! Give that time and energy to those you love, or the other pursuits in life you love.
Much as you keep a schedule for commitments in your business, use that same schedule to keep commitments to yourself and the people and things you love. Then your business won't rule your life!
47. Places Everyone!
A place for everything and everything in its place. In other words, discipline. I find that if my workspace is totally away from the house, in a separate room, on a separate floor, I am less distracted and when I re-enter the 'house area,' I feel I am home and can relax and be present. Reversely, when I am in my 'office space' I am totally focused on business and have few distractions.
48. Phone it in
It's hard to keep work and home separate when you work from home, so it's important to create a separation. The best way I know to do this, after 25 years of working from home, is to get a separate telephone line for the business. Monitor it during off hours if you must, but don't answer any call that isn't urgent. If you don't do things like this to protect your free time, you will end up working longer hours than you want and you could jeopardize your health and relationships.
49. Make Your Home Office Only YOU
Unless there is blood, no one walks into my office. Working from home needs a home office with a door that can be closed. Sharing a space, sharing a computer, or sharing a phone won't
work. Discipline from everyone in the family is needed to effectively work from home, and a closed door and single ownership make it that much easier.
50. Get Dressed!
Here is my best tip. Get dressed every day, period. I mean fully dressed, shoes and all. I learned this the hard way. In the beginning it would be 4:00 in the afternoon before I realized that I was still in my PJs. My days just weren't fulfilled or balanced. When I made a promise to myself to dress every day for 30 days, my thoughts were clearer, my work was smarter, and my house was cleaner. I felt organized for lack of a better term. Simply just get dressed every day!
51. Taking Care of Their Needs
On Sunday nights, set up one date with each member of the immediate family (spouse & kids) for the coming week. If their emotional needs are met up front, they are more likely to support you in giving you the time and space you need to do your work at home.
52. Stress Free Working at Home
The most important thing to have while working at home is your own space where no one can bother or interrupt you and your things have a special place. If you have a family, this is more important than ever. They need to respect your work area, not touch anything in it, and when you're on the phone, be quiet.
53. Don't Ignore the Muse
When the muse strikes and you feel "in the groove" with a particular project, go with it. Forget the 50-minute focus. Just feel blessed that the muse has visited and keep working until she goes away. You cannot predict when the muse will strike and how long she'll linger. Just know that as a freelancer -- a writer, designer, consultant, or whatever -- you're going to get that boost of creative energy every once in a while and you'd be a fool to ignore it. Then, when the muse fades, take a break.
54. Flexibility is the Key!
I recommend the Flexible To-Do List. Start with your basic time management / organization tools of making lists and selecting the priorities for today. They keep us focused and on track. However the joy of working from home is the flexibility it offers. We can work in our most productive time – which varies by individual - and we can work around family members' schedules. You know what and when things need to be done. So as long as you make your commitments – Flexibility is the key!
55. Simplify Your Life
As a mother of 2 boys and working from home, I simplify my life by hiring a nanny. I find great success with my nanny being an extra set of hands. Besides childcare, she also helps with laundry, grocery shopping, homework and meal preparation. I can't imagine my life without a nanny. When my work day ends, the house is in order, the meal is in the oven, the homework is done and I can spend more time with the children.
56. Separate Spaces Work Wonders
Separate workspace is absolutely crucial for good work/life balance. Even if you don't have a home office, you should designate a small area of your home as a workspace and leave the rest of your home for family and personal activities. Working from your bed or your kitchen table blurs the line between work and family time, making it difficult to end your work day and truly experience the joys of personal time.
57. I'm OFF!
One tip for keeping a balanced life while working from home:
I write the word OFF in big letters on my calendar. This reminds me it is a day OFF, makes it harder for me to sneak a client in as I would have to erase the word off or write over it; and it is a visual cue to remind me to honor my days off.
58. Managing Kids During Summer
I am a single mother of 3 children who runs a business out of my home. This is especially challenging during the summer. The only way I make it work is by making my kids responsible for their own disagreements. If they do not work out arguments peacefully, they will all lose some privilege. To establish this, I had to make sure that every one of my threats was followed through on, but it did not take more than 2 times of losing all computer privileges before they got in line.
59. A Home Office is a Business
A home office is only as successful as the seriousness with which it's treated. Treat it like a brick and mortar building you commute to daily. Clear out a room and furnish it only with office equipment and decorations. If possible, install or use a separate entrance so you physically leave your living quarters to get to it. Commit to working specific hours every day and stick to them. Be clear to family/friends that your "business hours" must be respected. Make yourself accountable to others.
60. An Unusual Daily Routine
Morning: Work on your two mission-critical tasks for the day (identified the night before). DO NOT check email first thing in the morning. Noon: Check and answer email, process (decide about and organize) tasks and papers that have been collected since yesterday. Afternoon: Phone calls/errands. This lets you do returns, go to the doctor's office, and get your car fixed without feeling like you haven't done anything important yet. Evening: Identify your two mission-critical tasks for tomorrow.
61. Focus with Laser-Like Vision
The most important factor is focus. When working, focus only on that project for a set period of time. Shut out all distractions and work with 15 minute breaks every 2 hours. Take 2 days off a week to focus on family, friends, hobbies and other things that bring you enjoyment.
Most people either work 24/7 with no break or distraction or they are distracted by everything and do not get their tasks accomplished. Plan it out and work the plan.
62. Start Your Day the Right Way
Take a few moments to enhance work spaces by making sure they have natural light, plenty of fresh air, and that the senses are awake and ready to roll! Open the windows in the room- then spritz work areas with a little home-made air freshener of purified water mixed with a couple of drops of essential oil (my favorites are peppermint, which wakes the senses, and lemongrass, which is soothing and calming). And finally, I create a play list of music to help me tackle whatever might lie ahead.
63. Get a Room, You Two!
Get you & your startup a room if you're working out of the home; a designated work area helps you & family members respect your work & work hours. Discipline yourself on hours & dressing for work, close the doors, put up a quiet hour note, educate your family & friends that work from home is the same as work from the office etc., are just a few more tips. Remember they will only respect if you do, so you need to be disciplined first. Discipline will help you achieve the work & life balance that you deserve.
64. Everything in its Place
When you work at home, you are the boss and the "administrative assistant." So finding what you need when you need it is important. If you can't put your hands on a document when someone wants information, you do not look professional. Set up a good file system and most importantly, a good tickler system, like the Take Action File, to help you locate what you need to do and when you need to do it. The system should be for both hard copy and emails.
65. Get Out of Isolation!
Working from a home office can feel lonely and isolating at times. Schedule a lunch date out of the house at least once per month. It can be with a client, but a friend or family member would be better, as it is more of a social outlet.
66. Work Out While You Work In
It is very easy to sit back in your home office and get physically lazy, thinking, later, yes later, I will get up and out to hit the gym or take a run in the neighborhood. Don't count on it! Build into your workspace a way to work out while you work. For example, always stand and walk around while on the phone, or set up a treadmill to read by!
67. Organize Your Day
To help balance work and family, home based biz owners can organize their day into blocks of time. For example, dedicate early morning hours to paperwork, emails, etc. If you have children, take a break to prepare them for school. Schedule business calls and meetings during hours when your family is out of the house and never work during dinnertime. If necessary, return to your office in the evening. And, try to schedule an hour each day away from the office doing something you enjoy.
68. Bursts of Fitness Fun
I take mini fitness bursts throughout the day. This keeps me fit, focused & energized.
1. Mini fit break and jump on the rebounder or bounce on the fitball
2. Multitask on the phone by bouncing on the ball
3. When I need an idea, (or a quick break), I bounce or jump and tell myself that the answer is about to come to me any minute. And it does!
69. Plan Your Play First
I love my work so it can easily consume me. To keep my life in balance, I plan my playtime first. Each January I plan my vacations and block them out on the calendar. Then, at the start of each month I block out family time, playtime, lazy time and spontaneous time on my calendar, often incorporating input from friends and family. Thus, I am free to work around the clock any hours that are left. I kept gravitating back to work and was a workaholic prior to planning my play first.
70. Fortune 500 - Foundation First
Always run your business as a business, with a proper foundation, agreements, contracts, fee schedules, guidelines for how your services are offered and hours of operation. Build your foundation around the boundaries you want in your business. It is much easier to set expectations with clients, team members and vendors from the beginning than to go back and change them after the relationship has started. Bad habits are hard to break and lines can become blurred when you are working from home.
71. Forget Balance, Merge
Forget balancing your business and personal life. We live in a 24/7 world. Learn to merge them together to live one passionate life!
Barry Moltz of SMG
72. Home Business Must Do
If you are going to work from home you MUST have business hours. Let your family and your clients know these before hand and stick to them.
73. Stop Multitasking!
As a working mother who cares for two young children, finding work-life balance has been difficult! I've learned to avoid multitasking. It just wastes time and produces poor results. I hired a virtual assistant to handle my client communications and call me if there is anything urgent to attend to. I am focused on my kids when they’re awake and on work when they’re asleep. I get about five hours of work done every day—two hours during nap time and three hours after bed.
74. "Balance" is a Myth!
My inner circle set me on course to revolutionize how parents view the home office. With a website, a blog and her first business venture, my 5-year old has adults doing a double take about the potential for developing the next generation of global thought leaders. Rather than trusting the government, the U.S. Department of Education or Preschool for ALL to save us, it's time we recognized that the home office is the corporate icon of the future! What balance? It's about disruptive technology!
75. Your Headset Does All That?
My home office savior; a telephone headset. Really! It helps me focus and keeps distractions out - double duty! When making calls, I'm hands free to make notes. Once the headset goes on, my focus is clear and I'm present in the moment. It blocks out noises and lets others know I'm busy so they won't rush in with questions until I'm free. I use software to talk to type. This allows me to "dictate" my thoughts - saving me tons of time. This 1 tool makes working at home much easier for me.
76. All Quiet on the Home Front
My best tip is to make sure that you have a quiet zone in your home to accomplish your work. You may have to use the kitchen table but set that area as "off limits" to other family members during your "office hours". You will find that you are more productive and less stressed.
77. Blood, fire and schedules
My creative tip to work/life balance is to tell my kids not to bother me during work unless there's blood or fire. In reality, it's a boring schedule that keeps me organized. I schedule every task from email to marketing to taking the kids to the pool. It keeps me on task while I'm working so that I don't have work cluttering my mind when it's family time. It also allows me to easily switch between work and family activities throughout the day because each task is clearly spelled out.
78. Embrace Working 24/7
Tip 1: Stay sane by keeping your office separate from your living space. Buy a divider and pretty up a space in the basement — preferably a spot with a door. Tip 2: Work on a laptop that can travel with you. It's good to take a break and work at Starbucks — or work while sitting in bed while watching a movie with your loved ones. Tip 3: Realize there really isn't any such thing as work-life balance and embrace it. It'll keep you sane amidst the chaos of working for yourself!
79. I'm Not Your Errand Girl!
Be proactive! When setting up a work environment at home, make sure to inform those people in your life that may think because you work from home that you are now available to run errands, talk at anytime or meet for lunch at a moment's notice. Set and communicate specific office hours and treat your time as if you were "punching the clock".
80. Partition Work From Home!
Set a "place" for the home-office (usually a room for your office) that is the "business place." Then partition "business work" to occur only in that place. The "business" phone is a separate line that ONLY rings in "the office" and if you're not there, let the V/Mail pick it up.
The separation of business and home is important psychologically. If a significant other is in the business with you, enforce the rule: the rest of the home is off-limits to the business, other than normal life.
81. Prioritize Your Work
Make a list of priorities to accomplish on THE PREVIOUS EVENING for the following day. Write down what you need to accomplish in order of top priority and deadline.
The key is to stick to the list & focus on completing the list as written. By creating the list the previous evening, you're not wasting time that day figuring out what needs to be done. You can hit the ground running, and it saves that extra time you may need if something else comes up that requires your immediate attention.
Dominic Picione of RE/MAX
82. Dressing Up at Home
In order to get yourself in a business mood, you need to dress at home the same way you would in an office setting. The only difference is the address. So, in order to be in a business-like frame of mind, dress up like you would normally dress when meeting clients. Hanging around in shorts, tank tops and flip flops does not get your mind working in a business-like fashion.
And be sure to set at least one meeting away from the home office daily. This kick-starts your reason to dress up.
83. Working from Home on the Roam
When I'm at home or working on the go in my RV (I'm a travelwriter who travels) it's important to know nice ways to say NO. Neighbors have to realize you're not available for chats or to do favors. My work day ends at 5 p.m. when the cocktail flag goes out. Neighbors know that's the time to stroll over with their drinks. In many places, folks get together for a drink before dinner prep begins. The flag is an added signal stolen from the boating community and catching on now everywhere.
84. Don't Forget to Go Outside
I set daily goals for myself to stay on track and keep motivated. These goals are sent to my boss so he knows what I’m working on, and it adds further incentive to meet them. It’s also imperative to keep a hard line between personal and professional space. And be sure to get outside! Take a walk, meet friends for lunch…anything to get yourself out of the house a few times per week. Getting to wear pajamas during a conference call is always a perk, too.
85. Let a Timer Manage Your Time
I set a small timer for about 70 minutes. When it buzzes, I step away from my computer, reset it for 20 minutes and work on household or family tasks such as laundry, scheduling Doctor appointments, etc. until the 20 minute buzzer rings. I find when I return to my computer work, I'm refreshed and much more productive!
86. Tipping the Scales
Working effectively from home requires a willingness to honestly and consistently ponder personal performance without partiality.
I believe performance is best measured against expected outcomes. If you are producing expected outcomes it's because you are thinking about how you can perform better tomorrow after observing your performance today...
Balance is first observation and then swift action!
87. Working From Home Strategy Tip
Set a regular schedule for yourself as if you were commuting to an office. Create a separate space for work that you can leave when you are finished. Take a break for lunch and walk around the block, just as if you might make a Starbucks run with co-workers mid-afternoon. When your work day is done, turn off your computer, straighten the work area, and "go home". Planning up to 75% of your day allows for unplanned interruptions. Don't let other home needs distract you. Plan them into your day.
88. Dressing to Work Effectively
To achieve a work and life balance when working from home, dress for work. For gentlemen, this means a collared shirt and belt, and for women, styling their hair and makeup.
89. Work Like an Employee
Working from home is most effective if you get dressed for work, enter a work area, and decide on and stick to a timetable with defined work hours. Many people fail to operate a successful home based business simply because they report to no one. If you can work as if your boss has set deadlines, then the projects will have a start, a work flow and an end. Just make it a habit and you will have the ideal combination, the comfort of home, doing what you love, and the best results.
90. Take a Step....Then Repeat
I overcome two of the challenges facing a work-at-home entrepreneur, isolation and motivation, by putting one foot in front of the other…literally. Every morning I take an hour-long walk. New ideas, ways to promote my brand, and people that can move my business forward come to mind as I go. I used to think that being away from my office was time that could be spent working. But I’ve come to realize that movement and getting out of the house is the best thing I can do for me and my business.
91. Ignore the Experts!
Really think about what you want out of your work life. What didn't you like
about working in an office? Allow yourself to enjoy your work experience at home. Personally I don't "dress for the office" like some experts suggest. I wear whatever feels good. I also have a healthy lunch and then often take a quick nap. Experts would likely be shocked by that, but I feel energized. Customize everything to work best with your own desires and productivity cycles. Let yourself enjoy working from home!
92. Post: "Do Not Disturb!"
The big challenge when you work from home is staying focused. There are many distractions- the laundry, the cleaning, the children, the spouse, friends and family. I moved my office home 2 years ago. In the past when I was home, it meant I was available to people and home issues. My son suggested putting a "DO NOT DISTURB! except for medical emergencies or the house is on fire" sign on my door. This sign goes on the door with the time I will be available and then I close the door. And FOCUS!
93. Set Your Business Hours
It can be very tempting, particularly when your business is new or struggling, to answer your phone or reply to emails way after any normal work hours are through. Before you get caught in this trap, think first: What are the odds of your losing a sale at a ridiculously late hour? Do you want to train your customers to this standard once your business is no longer new or struggling? Being a slave to your own business is not a badge of honor. But, it is a great way to get burned out.
94. Balance is in the Planning
Planning a work schedule works best for me. On Sunday, take 30 minutes to plan the week ahead. Start the day at the same time every day. Block out time in the office, followed by bullet points of what promises must be kept. Then write in what appointments outside home must be factored in, with travel time, and finally, block out time to spend with the family. Include time for yourself. Be realistic in your planning. Finishing the plan daily will provide energy and a sense of accomplishment.
95. You Work, Children Play
I created a playroom so magical that my kids never want to leave it. We (my three kids ages 8, 6, 4 and I) start out playing in the playroom and then I'll let my kids know that I have some work to do. My kids are so enthralled with what they are playing with that they barely know I'm missing. The one big rule, if they can't play nicely together they get separated on different floors in my house. Nobody wants to be banned from the playroom so they tend to get along well---most of the time.
Do you have another suggestion or strategy that wasn’t included? If so, please share it below.
As always, many thanks to everyone who contributed to this article!