When my older son was in grade school and they held career day, he told his class all about his dad’s career. When he described me, he said that I didn’t do anything.
At first I was hurt, then I realized he answered that way because he rarely saw me work. The only time I worked was when he and his brother were asleep, with a sitter, or at school.
Now that my sons are older and don’t need me as much—they get better grades when I don’t help them with math—my challenge is to stop working so much. For years, I’ve recommended a few strategies to my clients for balancing their home and office life, and now I’m taking my own advice.
Make regular dates with your family. Schedule a weekday afternoon or an evening to spend with your family, or designate a weekend night as movie night. My neighbor used to hold “Smith family movie night” on Friday nights. The trick was to find a movie everyone wanted to see and one that was appropriate.
Schedule mini-vacations. When my family and I went on spring break a few weeks ago, I was able to stay in touch with my clients and still enjoy some time away from my home office. If it’s too hard to get away from work for longer than a week, take a three-day or a four-day weekend vacation with your family. You’ll get away from your office, yet you won’t be away so long that it will take weeks to catch up.
Share a hobby or sport with someone else, and promise to maintain it. Built-in pressure from someone close to you ensures that you’ll exercise regularly, stick with a new hobby for longer than a month, and meet your goals.
Be willing to pay for free time. If you can find someone to take care of things you’d rather not do and there’s someone who could do them better and faster, hire him or her immediately. If you compared how long it would take you to do something vs. the amount of time you could spend with your family, you’d see that it’s worth paying for free time. Virtual assistant businesses are growing quickly because small business owners can pay for the help they need but do not have to hire a full-time employee.
Balancing your home and office life, especially when they’re in the same place, can be challenging. By taking the time to schedule time away from your home office, you’ll have more time to spend with your family, which may be one of the main reasons you work for yourself.