The life of an entrepreneurial parent is already filled with challenges and rewards, and working from home can add an extra layer of complexity. While working from home offers numerous benefits, such as flexibility, reduced commuting time, and the opportunity to be closer to your family, it can also present unique obstacles in terms of productivity, work-life balance, and maintaining a professional environment. Let’s discuss strategies and tips to help you succeed as a work-from-home parent, entrepreneurial or otherwise, ensuring that you can effectively manage your business while staying connected with your family.
- Create a dedicated workspace
One of the keys to success as a work-from-home entrepreneur is having a dedicated workspace that allows you to focus on your business tasks without distractions. In other words, something other than your kitchen table! Ideally, this should be a separate room or area in your home that is designated solely for work purposes. This space should be comfortable, well-lit, and equipped with all the tools and resources you need to be productive. By creating a dedicated workspace, you can minimize interruptions, maintain a professional atmosphere, and mentally separate your work and personal life.
If you don’t have the space a dedicated room (or even a closet!), then at least have a dedicated corner, with its own desk. Make it clear to the kids that it’s a hands off area. If you only have the kitchen table available, try to carve out some shelf space or a special bag to store your stuff when the table is in use, so you’re not constantly having to scramble to find things when it’s time to work. A good laptop bag with the paperwork in progress, pens, pencils, etc., can work wonders.
- Establish a routine
Establishing a routine is essential for maintaining productivity and creating a sense of structure in your work-from-home life. Develop a daily schedule that includes specific times for work tasks, family time, and self-care activities, such as exercise or hobbies. Consistency is key – try to stick to your routine as closely as possible, even if you need to make occasional adjustments to accommodate your business or family needs.
- Set boundaries and communicate them with your family
When working from home, it can be challenging to separate your professional and personal life. To maintain a healthy balance, it’s important to set clear boundaries and communicate them with your family. This may include setting specific work hours, minimizing interruptions during work time, or designating specific areas of your home as “off-limits” to family members while you’re working. You don’t need the kids rifling through your files, and having to clean toys off your desk all the time will get old, fast. By setting and enforcing these boundaries, you can create a more focused and productive work environment while also ensuring that you have dedicated time for your family.
- Prioritize and delegate tasks
As an entrepreneurial parent, it’s crucial to recognize that you cannot do everything yourself. Make a list of your tasks, both professional and personal, and prioritize them according to their importance and urgency. Identify which tasks can be delegated to others, such as employees, contractors, or yes, even your kids. Women in particular tend to be martyrs, trying to do all of the housework as well as all of the business work. Everyone should be pitching in.
- Utilize productivity tools and technology
Leveraging productivity tools and technology can significantly enhance your efficiency as a work-from-home entrepreneurial parent. There are countless apps and software programs available to help you manage your time, organize tasks, and streamline communication, both within your business and with clients. Some popular tools include project management software like Trello or Asana, time-tracking apps like Toggle or RescueTime, and communication platforms like Slack or Zoom. Experiment with different tools to find the ones that best suit your needs and help you stay organized and on track. Special emphasis here on picking the tools that are right for you. Just because some big name entrepreneurs make use of a tool or endorse it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for your situation.
- Embrace flexibility
One of the advantages of working from home as an entrepreneurial parent is the flexibility it provides. Embrace this flexibility by adapting your schedule to accommodate your family’s needs and your business priorities. This may mean working during unconventional hours, breaking up your workday into smaller segments, or adjusting your routine to align with your children’s schedules. It also means you can say screw it and take everyone on a day trip if the mood strikes. By being flexible and adaptable, you can make the most of your work-from-home arrangement and strike a balance between your professional and personal life.
- Plan regular breaks
Taking regular breaks throughout your workday is essential for maintaining productivity and preventing burnout. It’s also tougher to do since you’re not ‘on the clock’ as much mentally, when you’re at home. Actually schedule short breaks every hour or two to step away from your workspace, stretch, or engage in a brief non-work-related activity. Use this time to recharge and refocus, which will ultimately help you stay more focused and efficient when you return to your tasks.
- Involve your children when appropriate
While it’s important to maintain boundaries between your work and family life, there may be opportunities to involve your children in your business in age-appropriate ways. This can help them develop a better understanding of your work and foster a sense of responsibility and pride in contributing to the family business. Additionally, involving your children in your work can provide valuable learning experiences and help them develop essential life skills.
- Connect with other work-from-home entrepreneurial parents
Building a support network of fellow work-from-home entrepreneurial parents can be immensely valuable in helping you navigate the unique challenges of balancing your business and family life. Join online communities, attend networking events, or connect with others in your industry who also work from home with children. Sharing experiences, advice, and resources with others in similar situations can provide encouragement, motivation, and practical support. Not having to deal with office politics can be wonderful but it can also be lonely. Recharge and socialize.
- Celebrate your achievements
As a work-from-home entrepreneurial parent, it’s essential to acknowledge and celebrate your achievements, both in your business and personal life. This can help maintain motivation, boost your confidence, and remind you of the progress you’ve made in balancing your professional and personal responsibilities. Take time to reflect on your successes, and don’t forget to include your family in these celebrations, as they are an integral part of your support system.