While everyone else is struggling to find the elusive “balance” between their business and home lives, savvy women business owners understand that the name of the game is “juggling.” Juggling is a perfect analogy for the way women often need to toggle back and forth between family and clients, between housework and project work.
Realistically, you can only juggle so many things before something falls through the cracks. Pay close attention to what you’re juggling and try to keep the number of things you handle yourself down to a manageable size.
Find the right tools to help you manage the juggle. Whether you keep To Do lists on paper or use computer software or a mobile app, you need to not just see what you need to get done but also what you’ve already accomplished. Look more deeply at your list of tasks and projects and ask yourself, “Am I over committing myself?”
Even if you are a master at multitasking, you aren’t really doing your absolute best when your attention is broken down to serve many things at once. While it can be painful to admit, you cannot do it all or at least not all at once.
If you have a home-based business, you may be struggling to draw the lines and effectively delineate - much less delegate - work and home life tasks.
Consider hiring a virtual assistant. Sometimes the idea of hiring an assistant doesn’t seem viable because you may not have the workspace to accommodate another person. But a virtual assistant provides an array of support services to busy entrepreneurs while working remotely, usually from their own home.
A virtual assistant can help you with calendar management and scheduling, travel arrangements, file organization, and Internet research, just to name a few. Some virtual assistants focus on a particular industry or type of client such as real estate agents, book authors or business owners. Some even manage your social network profiles and help you keep up with your online messages.
Another way to draw distinct lines between work and home is to join a coworking space or rent a small office space away from home that you use on a part-time basis. A coworking space is a business that is set up as a large office with multiple work areas including desks and chairs, often small cubicles or closed offices, and shared equipment including a printer, scanner, and fax machine. Coworking spaces are different from rentable office space in that part of the appeal is literally sharing space with other business owners and freelancers and being able to network and socialize. A rented office in a more traditional arrangement provides your own private office space - usually temporary and as needed - with a shared receptionist and equipment as an additional cost. You could also simply rent a more permanent space exclusive to you in someone else’s office or an office building, although this tends to be the more expensive option.
The extra expense of an office outside of your home can range from around $200 per month to up to $1200, depending on your arrangement and the amenities you need. Some outside work arrangements would include an office mailing address that can come in handy as an alternative to your home address or a PO Box.
If you're easily distracted, a dedicated place to work can suit you, but before you invest in a space, make sure you have enough business or client load and a proven marketing system in place for getting new clients in order to handle the new expenses. Having a desk and chair at any location away from your house can provide the right environment for being more productive with less distraction.
Be realistic about your work style and habits, your work demands and the responsibilities you face at home, and your ultimate goals. Having a clear picture of your current situation and where you’re trying to go will help you choose the best tools and location for your business.
For more information about managing the work/life juggle, check out a book like Mom, Incorporated that includes checklists and worksheets for planning out your work schedule, space and resources.