Dog Boy's Dog Ranch ComputerThere are plenty of advantages and joys to owning your own business, especially if you get to work at or very near to your home. One of the big ones is never having to commute. It’s nice that I can just walk back-and-forth to work. If I forget something at the office or vice versa, I’m just a few steps away. So, walking back and forth between the office and the house to pick something up is a cinch. There’s a lot of REALLY nice things about living and working on the same piece property.

But, there are also plenty of challenges that come along with living and working on the same piece of property. It’s really hard to separate work and personal life when it’s always around you.  Today, I want to give a few tips to help other small business owners who are trying to juggle their home and work life balance. The big takeaway from all of these is that it’s really important to find healthy ways to keep your work and personal life separate. These are the methods I use, and I hope they are beneficial to you.

1. Keep Your Home And Work Papers SEPARATE

One of the first things that I do is to keep my bills, receipts, invoices, paperwork, and any other relevant documents separate between work and home. Because we started our business based out of our home, we didn’t have an office, or any business buildings, in the beginning.

So, several things still do come to my house that are related to work. I try to get any mail, bills, or other documents over to the office as soon as possible. This helps me make sure bills get paid on time, mail gets dealt with in a timely manner, and things don’t get lost in the chaos of homework, bills for the house and junk mail floating around the house.

2. Keep your work and personal finances SEPARATE

I keep my work and personal financial information separate. I have a QuickBooks for work, and I use Quicken for personal financials. I only record QuickBooks transactions at the office, and I only do business banking through my business account.

For example, I never buy groceries with my business credit card or anything like that. It’s very rare that I have to use my business account for personal things. As a general rule I avoid doing that at all costs, and most any business coach or other small business owner would advise you to do the same.

3. Keep Your Business and Personal Communication SEPARATE

cell phone, tablet, work computer...hard to keep communication separate...The third thing that I do to maintain a sane attitude is keeping my business and personal phone and emails separate. My cell phone is used for personal friends, business associates, and employees that I have a close working relationship with. For business associates, that means that I am talking to that person on a weekly or daily basis. In general, I want people that I work with to call me on my office phone, unless it’s an urgent matter or an emergency. In that case, they can always reach me by cell phone.

However, I generally don’t like to give my cell phone out to work-related people that don’t know me personally.  Doing this helps to keep my communication organized:

  • I check my work messages when I’m at my desk.
  • I write them down in my notebook.
  • I make notes related to the business matter they are calling about.
  • I set dates to keep track of who is expecting me to call them back.
  • I stay on top of my work communication.

With my personal cell phone, I just keep track of who I need to get back in touch with using my voicemail, missed calls, and text messages. So, when my mom, my sister, or whoever else tries to get in touch with me they know that I will get back to them in a short amount of time. This helps to keep a healthy work and life balance in place for me, and it alleviates any anxiety or stress that someone might be waiting to hear back from me.

4. Eat lunch away from the office

My husband and I try to take a lunch away from the office on a daily basis. No matter how busy life gets we try to do this. Even if I walk home for lunch, I’ll spend that time with him so we can pow wow during the day. Making sure that we do this guarantees that we get some quiet time together before I go back to the rest of my work day.

If you can’t leave the office, or if you work out of your house, just make sure you’re not eating lunch at your desk. Taking breaks during the day is good for anyone, business owner or not.

5. Don’t work from home unless you have to.

I really try not to work from home unless I absolutely have to. I realize some small business owners have home offices. I still think it’s important to designate the space that is reserved for work, and the space that is reserved for you. Sometimes, for me, that is really difficult because I have computers at home and I have computers at the office.

So do I work from home? Absolutely. If there’s a deadline I’m trying to meet, or something that I need to do online that I don’t want to have to walk out to the office for, then I will do that from home. Generally speaking, I try to do work at work and home stuff at home.

6. DO NOT work on the weekends

It’s really tempting, right? You could get so much more work done if you just spent a few hours working on Saturday and Sunday. In fact, in the early years, I used to think that in order to succeed, I had to be willing and able to work whenever I was awake. DON’T DO IT. This is a big one for me. It will affect your family in a negative way, and it speaks loud and clear that work is a priority over family. NOT GOOD.

I really try hard not to work on the weekends. That is my family time, that is my rest time, and that’s the time I get to take care of all the other things I need to get done in my life. That includes grocery shopping, running errands, going to the park, or whatever. Life is not all about work, so save your weekends for you, and protect that time like it’s precious. Because believe me, you don’t get that time back.

The only time I do work is if I am on call, which we rotate through our management team. If I’m on call, and my staff needs me, then yes I’m there, no matter what. But, if I’m not on call, I don’t come up here and hang out and I don’t come to the office and do work.

This can from time to time be a little tricky because we are a business that provides a service to many people who also work all during the week. So, it’s natural for friends, family, and colleagues to ask me to do private tours on the weekends for them. I always have to say, “No, we already do a group tour on Saturday. So, if you want to come on a Saturday you should do the group tour.”

7. Don’t talk about work on date night

romantic dinner on date nightThis last tip is for all the home business owners out there with spouses and significant others. Do yourselves a favor and pick a couple nights out of the week to NOT talk about work. This is especially important for date night. It is inevitable, after 20 years of business, that work comes up pretty much anywhere and everywhere that we are. If my husband and I are together, we are talking. And if we are talking, I’d say that roughly 80% of the time it’s about work.

Sometimes we’ll be in the middle of a work-related discussion and I’ll realize…”Wait a minute…we’re on a date, we need to stop talking about this right now.” Or, he’ll say, “Did you see ‘so-and-so’s’ email?” And, I’ll say, “I’m not reading it, because it’s Friday night. I will read it on Monday. And, I won’t worry about it, because this is my time.” We do a good job of keeping each other accountable to that task.

I hope that these steps are helpful for you to keep a healthy work-life balance. The real key is keeping the two things separated. It can be difficult at first, but if you put your boundaries in place, and keep at them, it gets easier and easier. If you have other home-based business questions you’d like answered, please feel free to comment below. Maybe they’ll be part of a future post!



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Romantic Dinner by Samantha Ombregt