According to my daughter I have a satellite delay when I’m working at home. Conversations go something like this:
“Mummy, blah blah blah…”
(I know she uses words here but they don’t reach my ears.)
Six second pause before I reply.
It’s not cool.
Balancing work and home life is tricky at the best of times, but when you’re self-employed and bringing up a family it’s enough tougher. Here are four top tips for maintaining a healthy work-life balance:
1. Have a separate space for work
If you don’t have room at home for an office, consider some shared office space nearby. It does cost a bit extra but you’ll find you’re far more productive without the distractions of home. Being able to physically shut the door or walk away from work helps you switch off and the walk to and from an office is a great way to clear your head and get some exercise.
2. Define your work hours
One of the perks of being self-employed is flexibility, and that’s great, but that shouldn’t mean being on call 24 hours a day. Even if it’s subject to change, try to put in place a basic structure to your day and to put your laptop and work phone away outside these hours.
3. Practice not replying immediately to everything
The worry when you’re self-employed is that unless you say yes to everything, straightaway, that you will miss out, but this isn’t the case. It can actually look good if you take 24 hours to reply to something – it shows you’re busy right? Saying ‘I’m sorry I can’t take on any extra work right now’ makes you look popular, not hopeless. Practise it today. It feels good.
4. Factor paid holiday into your annual budget
Taking proper holiday when you run your own business is hard and normally fairly guilt inducing, so try to think about it with an employee mindset; as an employee you are paid an annual salary and you get paid time off. How much do you need to turnover as a self-employed person in a year to factor this in? If you want to earn £500 a week on average for example, setting a target of £565 a week allows you scope for six weeks paid holiday.
Jo Middleton writes the award-winning blog Slummy Single Mummy as well as offering training and marketing support to businesses.