ICBA Blog

Find Work-Life Balance with These Tips

Stay on top of tasks while still having time to kick up your feet

When you run your own business, especially from home, work life and home life commingle. Tending to both without letting the other suffer is a delicate balancing act. We’ve put together some ideas on how to get it all done and still have time for yourself.

Set your hours
One of the most important steps to getting projects done is to set regular work hours. That might mean working a traditional 9 to 5 or maybe you have young kids to tend to during the day and need to work at night. Whatever your situation, figure out your best chunks of time to get work done and stick to that schedule.

One of the benefits of being an independent contractor is having flexibility. A doctor’s appointment or an important errand might crop up. It’s okay to shift your schedule to fit in these things from time to time. Just be sure to make up for the hours away from your desk at a different point during the day. If you continually skip out on your regular work hours without rescheduling them, you might find yourself slipping behind.

Set clear boundaries
Setting your schedule is one thing, but making it stick with others is another issue. Plenty of people with traditional jobs have a misconception about the independent contractor lifestyle. They assume that because you set your own hours, you have a lot of free-time on your hands. Learn to say no to long lunches and coffee dates or doing miscellaneous favors for friends and family. Don’t fall into the trap of emergency babysitter just because you’re at home.

Say no to freebies
Be wary of when friends or acquaintances ask for free help with professional tasks in your field of expertise. If you’re a graphic designer, for example, a friend might ask you to design a logo for her startup. Don’t give your work away for free too often, or people will take advantage and you’ll be overloaded with these requests from the same repeat offenders.

Unplug
Make sure to schedule time to go to the gym, take a yoga class, or hit the bike path. Find opportunities to completely disconnect from your devices too. Guard your free-time just as you would your work hours, and you’ll naturally find yourself more productive in all aspects of your life.

Multi-task when possible
If you’re working from home, you’re in proximity to your household chores. Think of the little tasks around the house that can fit into your normal work breaks. Switch the wash while you brew coffee or empty the dishwasher while brainstorming blog topics. Just don’t get sidetracked and start cleaning out the fridge when you should be dealing with your email inbox.

Know when to outsource
You might have work tasks that can be outsourced—like bookkeeping, setting up appointments, handling correspondence, and the like. But don’t forget about the home tasks that are sometimes worth hiring out. Order takeout when you’re too overloaded with work to think about what to make for dinner. Or hire someone to clean the house, mow the lawn, or stain the deck. Sure, you can tackle these things yourself if you enjoy them. If you don’t, you might find that taking on an additional project instead is a better use of your time.