How do you balance work and home life, especially if you work from home? I’ve brought in an expert to answer that. His name is Matt Keener and Matt Keener is the author of the book, Executive in Sweatpants: A Handbook for Launching Your Work from Home Career. As an outsourcing coach, he helps both clients and contractors reach their fullest potential. Visit his blog for helpful tips on managing online workers, growing virtual teams, and more.
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Your professional life is obviously important.
It’s your sense of accomplishment, a big part of your identity, and how you provide for your family. Your job consumes most of your waking hours, but who gets the rest?
If you’ve ever felt guilty about giving your family the “what’s-left-after-a-hard-day’s-work” version of yourself, you’re not alone. I struggle with this every day. Balancing family and work takes practice, boundaries, communication, and diligence. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds? Thankfully, it can be – with practice.
Being a work from home entrepreneur, I have a few unique bonuses and challenges to the work/family quandary. The tips I’m sharing today have been put to the test in an amplified way due to the physical closeness of my work and family. Whether your family is just on the other side of the wall (like mine), across town, or many miles away, I hope you’ll take this opportunity to bridge the gap from office to home.
#1: Set clear boundaries for work and family time
Ah, boundaries. Without them, our lives would be chaos. While boundaries may seem to be confining, they actually liberate us to enjoy what we’ve been given. For example, I never work on Sundays. It’s a rule and a boundary I never cross. This frees my mind to completely let go of work, relax, and be fully present to my family.
On the other hand, I keep work hours work-related. If my family knows that I will be working from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., these hours can remain free from the honey-do list. Of course the occasional family-related task leaks over into work time. Staying true to these boundaries, though, helps me accomplish what I need to get done so that my mind can be free later.
#2: Stop checking your phone all the time
We’ve all seen (and if we’re being honest, we’ve been) that distracted parent who is on the phone while a toddler does something totally unpredictable, embarrassing, or maybe even dangerous. From dumping out the entire box of cereal to bopping that pesky cousin on the head, distracted parenting leads to frustration on the part of the child and parent. I always look back on these situations and think about how easily it could have been avoided if I was more fully present to my child. If I had obeyed tip #1, this wouldn’t have happened.
Spouses and children deserve our best, and phone-checking is definitely an annoying habit. It makes them feel in second place. You may be so distracted that you don’t notice little things that make a big difference. One way to resolve this issue is to set a phone-checking boundary for yourself. For example, you could have two checks per night or three checks per Sunday. This gives you the confidence that the world isn’t burning down without you. If a work emergency pops up during family time, you’ll have to figure out the best way to handle it. Just be careful how you define “emergency.” Most things can wait until the morning.
#3: When in doubt, over communicate
How many silly fights have arisen over something that doesn’t really even matter in the long run? Nine times out of ten these tiffs can be prevented with better communication. First and foremost, make sure that the boundaries from tip #1 are approved by the affected members. If you even suspect that a boundary will be violated, it’s best to communicate that as soon as possible. If it turns out to be an issue, your family will be thankful that they were prepared for it. If it turns out to not be an issue, you come out looking like a prepared problem solver – success!
Also, make sure you tell your family the major happenings of your daily work. Equally important, ask them about their day. While this seems like common sense, many loving conversations never happen because someone was afraid of asking questions. Show genuine interest in your family and try to get everyone involved.
Hopefully these tips will get you on the right track to bridge that gap between work and home. When it comes down to it, your family is the reason why you do what you do. Shouldn’t you make them more of a priority?