Hello lovely ladies! Thank you for your great questions! As a time coach, I first get a holistic understanding of my clients’ specific situation before offering a custom solution. But for this column, I’ve done my best to provide helpful advice based on the provided information. To receive exercises that may help you better address your personal situation, go to ScheduleMakeover.com.
Here it goes! (Plus, look for my #1 Schedule Makeover Tip at the bottom of this post!)
Carole Bennett Asks:
How do you balance “home life” tasks with “working from home” tasks, when everyone else is just as wrapped up with their own projects as you are?
Carole – To start, you need a very clear sense of what time you have available to work from home. During the Schedule Makeover process, I have clients clarify what activities and commitments they already have and then use that information to determine how many hours they have left to work on their business. (Often times, they realize they’re already in time debt—i.e. committed to spend more time than they actually have each week.)
Then once you have a clear sense of how much time you have to work on your business, you need to differentiate between “home life” and “working from home” tasks. To help clarify, I would write out what activities you think fall under each one.
Once you know how much time you have to work on your business and what qualifies as a business activity, you can make goals. Ideally, you should block out specific days and times when you can focus on accomplishing home life tasks and on work from home tasks. During the planned times, choose to only focus on the activities under the designated category unless something comes up that absolutely can’t wait.
How do you deal with adult household members (aka DH) who like the idea that you’re working from home and getting a paycheck, but constantly want you to put down what you’re doing to pay attention to them, and do your business projects later? Even explaining that I have “work” time scheduled into my day and that I’ll be happy to spend time with him when my “work” time is over hasn’t helped.
Lorraine – It sounds like you’ve tried my initial suggestion—which would be to: 1. Clearly set “office hours” when you are working and not working. 2. Communicate those to others in the home. 3. Stick to them—i.e. declining invitations to do personal activities during work hours but also stopping working at the designated time.
If this strategy fails, my next suggestion is to adapt your environment. If the main distraction is an adult household member, as opposed to a child that requires you to be at home, I recommend finding another place to work. Possibilities include: the local library, a coffee shop or a shared workspace where you can rent a cubicle. That way your physical boundaries create clear psychological boundaries on when you are and are not available.
I love your question Lorraine! I am growing my business and finding it tough to manage family time and work time as well. What is the best way to grow a small business?
Hi Kelly – Your question could be answered in a million and one ways! But as an enthusiastic pragmatist who has supported myself as a full-time entrepreneur for over four and a half years and lives a balanced life, my simplest answer is: find paying customers. If you have very limited time to work on your business, almost all of your efforts should be directed at activities that lead to sales. If your revenue exceeds your expenses, you have a profitable business. If not, you don’t.
Sheena Edwards Asks:
As a “stay-at-home Mom” for the past 9 years, it is hard to transition into being a “work-at-home” Mom. Many of my friends, fellow school Moms and family don’t understand that I work 14 hour days. Always working as the “stay-at-home” Mom and then every other spare minute working to grow my business. Do you have a suggestion of how to transition into a working Mom while working from home?
Sheena—It is tough to adjust from being a “stay-at-home mom” to a “work-at-home mom” because your focus, priorities, and responsibilities have changed but there aren’t as many outward cues to remind people to adjust their expectations.
Here’s what I suggest:
1. Understand that it will take time for people to make the mental adjustment.
We naturally develop subconscious ways of relating to people so others’ misunderstanding may be frustrating but is most likely not intentional or malicious.
2. Consider whether you’ve adjusted your expectations for yourself.
Have you determined how many hours you will be working on your business? If so, how are you reducing your expectations of what you will do as a stay-at-home mom in order to gain those hours? (i.e. less volunteering, delegating cooking and cleaning, carpooling or reducing other driving, fewer social activities, etc.)
3. Politely adjust others’ expectations.
When you’re asked to do something you used to have time to do, say something like, “I really appreciate the offer but I’m at my capacity right now.” Or if you’re having a harder time fitting in people connection time, try to “layer” activities like going on a walk, planning a party, volunteering, or even grocery shopping with friends or family. This way you can get stuff done and invest in your most important relationships.
4. Give yourself time to rest.
If you’re literally spending every minute you’re not doing mom activities doing business activities, you’re going to burn out, feel like a victim, and be resentful of anyone asking for your time. Try to do at least one thing a day that re-energizes you, even if it’s as simple as turning off your cell phone and listening to your favorite music for 15 minutes on the way to an appointment.
Life is to be lived now. Don’t let it pass you by.
Finally, my #1 Schedule Makeover Tip …
Do more of less. A sense of accomplishment, satisfaction and achievement comes from making and keeping our commitments to ourselves and others. Decide what you really want to do, make a realistic goal, and then complete it. There’s no better way to create a great life and a build a great business.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time coach & professional speaker who empowers individuals who are overwhelmed and frustrated because they want to achieve a life of peace and productivity but are struggling to make it happen. Through her exclusive Schedule Makeover process, she helps them set priorities, set expectations and set routines so that they move forward, feel peaceful and create lives of love, meaning and purpose. Elizabeth has been featured in Inc magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and on NBC, and is happy to be interviewed for your broadcast or publication.