A growing number of men are pursuing successful businesses from home; however, it would appear that the majority of home-based businesses are managed by women. Many of these women are mothers, especially of small children; wives; caregivers for elderly parent/s; involved in social and volunteer activities, and the list goes on. While these are normal, everyday activities and responsibilities, they can create tremendous stress for solo-professionals working from home.
It is important to maintain a proper balance between personal and professional life when working from home:
a) Location: Your office building is your home. Your office may be a desk and chair in an already occupied room. Or you may have a room designated as your office. Can you make and receive phone calls without interruption or background noise? At the start of your day, do you dress as if you were expecting a client in your home, or as if you were leaving for a job outside the home? Nothing excessive, but doing whatever is necessary to make you personally feel you’re going to YOUR office to work?
b) Setting Parameters: One of the reasons many mothers with small children choose to work from home is the desire and preference to raise their children themselves while others with older children desire to home-school their children. Does your family understand that once you are at your desk you should not be disturbed unless it’s very important? Do they understand that tools (pens, pencils, notebooks, etc.) on your desk are for business purposes only so that you don’t waste your time looking for them when you need them?
c) Setting a Schedule: A basic schedule is essential. Where babies and very small children are involved it can be challenging to adhere to that schedule. You need to know what your goals are on a given day because without a plan the day goes by and you’ve accomplished very little in your business.
d) Managing yourself not just your time: A proper diet and exercise are essential to function properly in any situation. Many solo-professionals I’ve spoken with find this a challenge, and I often do as well. I’ll get so caught up in what I’m doing that I forget to eat, which leads to headaches. Unfortunately, this will only add to your stress level and may result in health issues. Exercise engenders a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction and can create a sense of well-being that allows you to find humor even in stressful situations.
e) Isolation: Many people love working alone. Others hate it! They miss the rapport with co-workers, the watercooler chit-chats and jokes, and face-to-face interactions with people. Depending on the type of business you’re pursuing, you may not have regular interaction with people. Regardless of how much we love our children, most of us crave adult conversation. If you work with clients/customers mainly on the telephone, why not arrange to meet them in person from time to time? If there are networking events in your area, why not make arrangements so you can attend one or two each month?
Working from home does not mean you have to control every situation instead learn the art of delegation. Share responsibilities with other family members. You may also have to learn to say ‘no’ especially when family members and relatives fail to respect your time or appreciate that you have a business to run. Do not rely only on just yourself and maintain a sense of humor.
I would love to hear what you’ve found works best for you. How do you cope with stress as a work-at-home professional? Please share your thoughts in the Comments.