Achieving a Healthy Balance
When you first went into business you probably thought working from home would be ideal. Most contract accountants don’t anticipate the difficulties they will encounter when trying to balance their personal and business lives. Often it’s easy to become distracted when working where you live. It can also be difficult to leave your work behind even after the metaphorical whistle blows. So in order for you to achieve true balance with work and home life, you must have a strategy. Here are six things to consider:
1. Leave work in the officeIf your office doesn’t have a door you need to get one. When you’re on duty you should close the door behind you; when you’re off duty you should also close the door behind you. Your work should stay in the office. Avoid carrying files around with you. You should train your mind to be prepared to work as soon as you step in that office; and you should work hard until you’re ready to leave. You should not train your mind to work from your living room as you spend time with your family or from your bed while your spouse tries to sleep. This closed door policy will make that transition from work to home life much easier. Also establish some rules with your family so they understand if and when you can be disturbed.2. Determine work-free days/hoursWhen you work from home it’s equally important for you to set aside work-free times you can spend relaxing or with your family. When the line between work and family life is blurred, resentment for your accounting practice can build and cause tension at home. So when you take time off be sure to enjoy it.3. PrioritizeObviously you must do what it takes to see that your business succeeds. Often this requires long hours. In order to compensate for this drain on your personal life you must use your “free” time wisely; you must prioritize your values and the way in which you spend your time. If eating dinner with your family is important then you must ensure that your schedule and work load accommodate that priority. If you want to be present for your children when they get home from school, then leave that time free and make up for it either earlier or later in the day. It’s important that you not sacrifice your family for your business. Balance is key.4. Use your imaginationWhen working from home where the refrigerator and television may only be steps away, you must devise a plan that will enable you to focus your efforts and “stay” at work. Some find that using a little imagination can help with this task. Arrange your office so that somehow you are able to imagine yourself miles away from home and in an environment completely void of distraction.5. Set strong boundariesThis goes for both your clients and your family. You need to have work hours both honor. Obviously emergencies happen and your family and your clients should know how to reach you in such circumstances. Otherwise you need to do all you can to ensure your boundaries are respected. This means you shouldn’t answer your phone after hours; nor should you answer your home phone while you’re working.6. Remember your motivationMost people start their own businesses in order to enjoy the freedom to dictate their own schedules and spend more time with their families. While this isn’t as easy as it sounds, you must continually remind yourself why you started your practice in the first place. A daily or weekly reminder can help you maintain your focus and your priorities.
Balancing work and home life isn’t impossible, but it does require a strategy and the establishment of certain rules to help guide your efforts. And when you attend to these 6 items, you’re on the right path for finding the peace and freedom your business affords.