Balancing Work and Home: Five Tips for the Busy Woman

Are you a self-employed woman or have a demanding position where you have to be “on” all the time? Congratulations! You have worked hard and made your dreams a reality. Now the part that no one warns you about: you have grown heavy with responsibilities and feel pulled in several directions. What can you do?

First, I want you all to realize one thing before you read any further. You are not alone. Every woman feels the pressure of balancing a career or a business with a personal life. You think you can do it all and you multi-task like a pro….the laundry is cooked, the dinner is cleaned, and the bills are scrubbed, while all the time you are on the phone with THAT client. Wait, what? It is easy to become twitchy under these conditions. We have all had those days where we feel overwhelmed with life and work, and it feels like we are drowning.

Have no fear. There is hope and there is a light at the end of the tunnel (and no, it isn’t a train). I am going to share five tips I have learned and cultivated over the years about how to balance that tricky tightrope between career and family.

  1. YOU must come first. You cannot take care of your clients or your family without taking care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and never compromise your “ME” time. Schedule at least a half hour a day where you can journal, walk, do yoga, paint, read or whatever it is that helps you center yourself. I take an hour every morning to walk my dogs and write in my journal. It grounds me and starts my day on a positive note. Because I refuse to let go of this hour, I do not schedule events before 9:00 am and I often refuse to answer my phone or emails before then as well. There has been the inevitable event that I HAVE to attend, but for the most part I start my day off with this important “Me” time. I do not compromise on this because once I compromise it is easy to head down a slippery slope and end up with no time for myself. Talk about twitchy!
  2. Schedule your time. Schedule everything. Set blocks of time for household chores just as you would for a client. It doesn’t have to be a large chunk of time, but if it is scheduled it stops you from going down the household rabbit hole. One load of laundry turns into finishing the laundry, ironing, scrubbing the floors and straightening the family room. Before you know it, your entire day has been eaten up and you weren’t productive in your business. This doesn’t apply only to chores, it applies to everything! You can even schedule family time. Schedule special dinners, school events, and kids’ sporting events, fun events with the kids or your spouse or just kid reading time. Scheduling this time may sound like overkill, but trust me, it works. It absolves the guilt over being with your family instead of working your business. It’s on your schedule after all – so you are being productive and not ignoring your family. It’s a win-win! And remember, you are in charge of your own schedule. You don’t have to be tied to the 9-5 time limitations. If you need two hours in the middle of the day to attend your child’s talent show – you have that freedom. Just remember to replace that two hours somewhere else on your schedule. Maybe it means you have to work after dinner or early in the morning. Guess what? It is your schedule, you control it. Organize it as you need to.
  3. Pay yourself a salary and give yourself permission to treat yourself. So many of us business owners make sure the bills are paid, payroll is met, and the clients are taken care of, but we forget our most precious employee – ourselves. Give yourself permission to treat yourself – whatever that means to you. Pay yourself a salary each month. If your business is just starting out, it can be a token amount, but transfer it to your personal account and log it as salary. You worked hard and you earned it! Now you have the choice about what to do with it. Splurge on that pedicure or put the money in savings. The choice is yours. Because you deserve it. Repeat after me.
  4. When you are working, work hard and focus (no time for “Squirrel!”). You scheduled this work time, so give it your all. You wouldn’t want one of your employees or one of your vendors to do a half-baked job on your assignment, so don’t do it to your clients. Block out distractions and keep on task. Sometimes this is harder than it sounds. For example, as part of my business, I comb the Internet looking for inspirational quotes, pictures, articles, and so on. I use social media in my business so I block out time in my schedule for Facebook and LinkedIn. BUT there are days I can easily get distracted with the latest detox water recipe, the cute pictures my niece posted, or the rant my sister went off on. FOCUS. Stay on task and avoid sabotaging yourself and your most precious commodity. Your time.
  5. Finally, say NO with a smile. Do not overextend yourself. NO is not a dirty word, and it is a complete sentence. Do you work with three different non-profit organizations that are eating into your family and work schedule? Figure out which one feeds your passion and focus on just that one. Did you guilt-commit and agree to not only be on the PTA but to become the president? Learn to say thank you, but NO for both personal and professional requests. If it doesn’t fit into your schedule, then the answer is “No.” The time you spend on your business needs to produce income, and the time with your family needs to be quality time. If that is where you want to focus, then take the steps to make it happen. Maybe that means you have to reassess your current commitments and make changes. That’s okay! It is called growth.

The bottom line is, we all want to enjoy life and to find that ever elusive balance. Some days are better than others, but if your goal is to enjoy your career, your clients, your family, and your time, then remember, you have the power to make that happen. You don’t have to take yourself too seriously – just use your time more effectively to accomplish both goals. And never ever forget to laugh and smile.