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Are you running your business or is your business running you?

Work-life Balance: Decide What You Are Willing To Exchange For What You Want…….

Work-Life Balance

Life is about choices.  It is often when you solicit the opinions of others to make decisions that you already know the choice you need to make.  When the choice involves your family and your career, in most cases it is easy to choose, and others difficult.

Work-life balance.  Does it even exist?  Have you achieved it?  If it were so easy to achieve, everyone would have it.  As an employee, you cannot achieve work-life balance alone.  As a business owner, you are accountable for how you invest your time.  However, it does not mean that there are no resources available to enable you to achieve work-life balance.

As the saying goes, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.”  We live in a time where being busy is glorified and often used to avoid important obligations.  Busy leads to burnout and other problems that often go unnoticed until someone else points them out.

Here are a few:

  1. Busy disconnects us from the ones we love.
  2. Busy becomes a response to “How are you?”
  3. Busy is a form of numbing.
  4. Busy becomes an excuse not to take care of yourself.
  5. Busy is addicting creating an appetite pushing you to do more things.
  6. Busy is distracting.
  7. Busy leaves you exhausted.

If you identified with any of the items in the list, you may be doing things that prevent you from achieving work-life balance.  It is never too late to try something new to achieve a different result.

Here are some things you can do to position you closer to achieving work-life balance:

  1. Learn to say no without an explanation or guilt.  (It is okay to turn down a project or task if you are overwhelmed.)
  2. Delegate tasks as needed.  (See the article “How well do you delegate?”…. http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMM_60.htm)
  3. Create a stopping point and do not work past it.
  4. Make personal rules and stick to them.
  5. Make time for yourself and your family.
  6. Meditate.

As you start each day, set your intentions and stick to the plan.  This is a simple way to get you closer to achieving work-life balance.  Either way you tip the scale, there will be the need to make adjustments.  Be sure that each adjustment you make balances out your equation.  Choose balance instead of being weighed down.

Work-life balance

Please feel free to comment with your tips to maintain work-life balance or your areas of struggle in obtaining work-life balance.

Pneumonia, flu, and possible food poisoning and why working from home makes life easier

Since January my family and I have had our run of illnesses. This is just the immediate family, not counting the extended family who have also had some illnesses, some very serious. My husband and my step daughter work “outside” the home at their jobs and fortunately I don’t because if I did I am not sure how we could have survived the last few weeks.Asian girl sneezing in a handkerchief

While it’s true I have had to burn the midnight oil on many occasions due to needing to take care of my sick family, and yes, I had to just give up one day and devote myself to rest while I had the flu, guess what: I did not miss even one deadline!

Meanwhile my husband had to miss a few days of work, which required a doctor’s note. My step daughter also had to get notes for work and for school. I didn’t need a note because I’m my own boss. I make the rules, so therefore if I am sick, I get to be sick without worrying about someone else. Yes, I have deadlines, but no, I don’t keep specific hours for my clients. I do the tasks on my time, by the due date, or deadline, and when and how I do it isn’t really their concern.

I don’t clock in or out, and I don’t even have to tell anyone I’m sick if I don’t want to. You can also set your business up to work that way if you keep in mind that you’re the boss of your business. Do not try to jump through hoops with potential clients promising to keep all sorts of unrealistic hours, tracking every minute moment of time, and being “available 24/7” it just isn’t realistic.

Instead, create groups of tasks that you will perform for a specific amount of money, by a specific time each week or month.  This will give you a cushion of time. Of course, if you do this you can’t be the type of person who waits until the night before hoping you can get 20 hours of work done in one day…. you have to be dedicated to getting your job done and meeting your deadlines.

When I have a deadline, typically I am done before my deadline. I don’t submit the work until the day before the deadline at the soonest, but I get done by doing work every single day, and not waiting for the other shoe to drop, because I promise, it will drop. You will get sick, your kids will get sick, no doubt about it, if you wait until the day before to finish a project, you’ll have to be in ER instead.

What is your best organizing tip to stay on track of your work?

Creative Commons License photo credit: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget

Juggling or balancing?

Do you juggle work and family, or do you seek more of a balance?

When I started Virtual Assistant Moms I thought of myself as a juggler, juggling all the different hats that I wear:

  • The Mom Hat
  • The Wife Hat
  • The Student Hat
  • The VA Hat

I’m sure you can add some Hats into that mix.We all have them, and we all wear them, sometimes two at once.

Then all the header/logo nonsense happened and my husband said: “Why do you have a woman juggling anyway? I’ve never seen you juggle, but you do balance quite well.”

Until then I had not thought of it that way.

But do we juggle, or do we balance?

And what’s the difference?

Juggling implies tossing a bunch of stuff up in the air and hopefully catching it before it hits the ground.

Balancing implies giving equal consideration to each part of your life as needed to keep you on your path without falling off.

I invite you to look up the definitions on dictionary.com as well, because you may be as surprised as I was that the definitions for juggling and balancing have a lot of other implications as well.

To me, balancing sounds much better than juggling. It sounds less stressful than juggling. While sometimes I slip into the juggling act, I am always striving for balance.

Balance is what will give me the most satisfaction in my career and in my personal life.  So, that is what I am going to try to achieve during 2010 and beyond.

Will you join me?

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas too

I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday. We Virtual Assistants often find ourselves packed with work right before a holiday so I am sure it has been a stressful time leading up to this day. But, I am sure you will feel that it is all worth it once you get a real break.

I have decided to make it a rule to take off from Dec 20th (approximately) until January 2nd of each year. I have a family to care for, cook for, visitors to entertain and an entire life outside of my business. That is what is fabulous about having your own business, you are NOT an employee, you have a right to take time off and “close your doors” just like anyone else with their own business does.

So, take some time off, and enjoy your holidays Mom!

The Value of Daily Goals

Do your kids or husband think you’re a control freak? I hate the term control freak but sometimes it just fits. I fall into that category many days. I don’t often do well with change. I am a big schedule person, and I like to do things on that schedule, and I never miss a deadline – until I had kids!

When you’re trying to raise a family and work from home, having the control freak personality can work against you. The stress you cause yourself and your family can become unbearable. Working from home is supposed to be less stress. The entire point in working from home for most moms is to be able to be here for our children, our spouses, and our family.

Maybe if you’re a control freak you need to learn to let go, and let others do things for you. And let them do it in their own way. If their way works fine, why does it have to be exactly your way? So what if the towels are folded vertical instead of horizontal? Do the towels fit in the cabinet? Are they clean? What difference does it really make in the scheme of life?

Sometimes you are going to have to let some things slide. So what if dishes get left undone at times. I bet before you started working from home dishes were left undone all the time. Did it really change much in your life? What has changed now? You’re still working, just from a different location. So if you have a deadline and your choice is deadline or dishes, the deadline has to come first.

But, here is the awesome point of working from home,  if the choice is deadline or sick child, the choice is obviously, sick child. Of course you can always outsource the work to someone else to keep the deadline – if you want to. (and let go of those results and let the person do their best work, what is the point of outsourcing if you’re going to micromanage?)

Sometimes work can wait, even deadlines. In our line of work, our children and family can come first, but not dishes, not a bit of dust. So what if a little bit of dust covers the furniture. It won’t hurt you. It won’t harm your kids.

You may be surprised that working from home carries its own stresses, and that even accomplishment can be stressful. You may feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of owning your own business and feeling 100 percent responsible for raising your kids and taking care of the household.

One  solution that works for me is to set daily goals. The goals include both family obligations, wants and desires along with the business side of things. Setting goals helps keep your balance between family and business obligations. Setting up these daily goals will help release some of your stress by helping you concentrate on smaller issues.

Some things to remember when setting up your daily goals.

There are no Super Moms.

Even if you do everything for everyone you still won’t ever do enough. You’ll just be more tired but no one will be more thankful. Sometimes teaching others how to treat you is hard, but it will be worth it, especially when it comes to your children. How you expect them to treat you in regard to your business will inform how they let others treat them when they are adults. Building a business takes time and effort so you will have to carve out that time, and you will need to ask for that time from your family.

One Step at a Time

The saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day” fits here. Building a business takes time. Learning to balance both family and business takes more time. Try one new thing until you’ve tried it out. For instance, if you are working on marketing your business, and you learn a special strategy for marketing, try only that one thing at a time. Try it until you figure out it works or does not work. Once you’ve learned that well enough that it is on autopilot or you notice you have more time, then try the next thing.

One New Client at a Time

As you take on new clients try taking only one new client at a time. When you feel comfortable with the client you have, then take on another one. Spread out the work until you find your sanity level,  then you can add more projects. Taking the time to allow yourself the time to do your best work and meet deadlines will enable you to cut your stress level and build your momentum. Do not be afraid to turn clients away or explain that you do not have time right now but you will in two weeks.

Schedule Your Housework

There will always be housework to do, it never ends. Unless you can afford to outsource housework someone has to do it. So, schedule it into your day. It is good for you to get off your bottom and stand up for a bit doing chores. If you just schedule 15 minutes of chores per hour of paid work, you will feel more accomplished and probably gain less weight. I schedule my day so that my house looks nice by 4p.m. because that is right before my husband comes home. Don’t get me wrong he does chores too, but this is one thing I enjoy doing so I make sure it is done. I feel good about it and so does he. It’s a great feeling when your house is clean and then the family comes home.

Outsource and be Creative

If you have small children at home one of the best things you can do is to find some help. Find a mother’s helper, or someone who can come to your home and occupy your children while you get some solid work done. The cost will pay for itself and it is a tax deduction. Whether you feel that you can do this or not, set aside time during your day that is just for work, and some that is just for the kids. I have combined housework with kid time, when they are little it is fun for them. So I’m not mean! I’m just practical. Little kids love doing things in races, like picking up toys, matching socks, spraying things and wiping things. My girls loved it when we would turn the music up really loud and dance while cleaning.

Schedule in Free Time

I have a schedule in the morning where I just do what I want to do for about 20 or 30 minutes. I have my coffee, or OJ, and just do what I want, read what I want, take a brisk walk, or just sit there relaxing for a while.

Additionally, try to have at least one day that is ONLY for family. Many families choose Sunday for this but the day is up to you and your family. I rarely work on Sunday unless there really is not anything else going on. I prefer to spend it with my family. Whether it is watching TV, movies, going to the park, or just talking. Everyone needs one lazy day a week.

You probably think I am nuts. You’re trying to build a business and I’m telling you to take 20 minutes off and then an entire day off. Trust me when I tell you that your family will appreciate it and so will you. What is the point of success if you have alienated your friends and family?

Remember that each day brings a new opportunity to grow your business, become closer to your family and take time to enjoy the breeze.  Working towards a well balanced life can only increase your satisfaction in life and business. The value of creating daily goals is immeasurable when it comes to your children, your spouse, your happiness and your success working from home.