Whether you’re coming from Corporate America or running a family child care program, creating work-life balance can be daunting when home is where you work. With family obligations, technological distractions and even the occasional sick kid, the pressure to be self-disciplined and productive can feel like too much.
We caught up with Kristen Pellino, district manager for the fashion company Carlisle-Etcetera, and Molly Gordon, author and founder of consulting firm ShaboomInc.com, to hear their advice on keeping those at-home stressors to a minimum. Here are a few of their best suggestions.
When you work at home, the separation between your personal life and work life can get fuzzy. Neighbors stop by to chat, mom calls, and the kids demand attention. “People expect things of you that they wouldn’t if you had an office away from home,” says Pellino. “Set very clear expectations. If you wouldn’t leave work for it, you wouldn’t leave your home office for it.”
Accept the Realities of Your Life
When you don’t have the structure of a traditional workplace, it’s important to accept the fact that life will interrupt you. “Be realistic and honest with yourself about what’s possible,” Gordon says. “If the kids are coming home at 2 p.m., balance probably doesn’t look like working until 4 p.m.”
Divide and Conquer
Creating workspace that is separate from the rest of the house can help remind you that you are at work. Separating work and home by a door, or even a floor, is often best. “Close the door to give yourself a sense of separation from your living quarters,” suggests Pellino.
While you’re at it, make sure to set up a separate work line to use only for work, while keeping your home line and your cell exclusively for personal use. Every little thing you do to separate the two will help create balance and cut down on stress.
Design a Space That Fits
Gordon advises creating a space that fits your personality, as well as your purpose. “Recognize that your way of doing it is going to be unique,” she says. Something as simple as changing the color on your walls can improve your sense of well-being and make you a more efficient worker.
Dress for Success, Even at Home
Dress as though you were going to work, whatever the job may be. “I don’t do my best work in my pajamas,” says Pellino. “If you dress as though you are leaving for the office, your confidence will shine through the work that you do.” Plus, you never know when a new client could call or come by.
Use Common Sense
When you’re working from home, it can be easy for work to take over your home. But you don’t have to let it. “Your common sense is always going to tell you how to design your life and business,” says Gordon. If you feel as though work responsibilities are taking over your home life, don’t hesitate to ask for or hire the help you need to give yourself your time back.
Embrace It, Enjoy It
Remember: There’s a reason you’re doing this. Whether you started your own business or are just starting a flexible work arrangement, there’s a level of freedom you have now that will only feel overwhelming if you let it. “Working at home allows you to capitalize on your best work ethic,” Pellino says. “Embrace the flexibility.”
Working out of your home can offer you the chance to find your own work style and rhythm in a way that you never could have in a traditional setting. With the right boundaries and a few personal touches, your home-based business will be set up for success.