Four tips to help you avoid work-life integration when running a home business

Running your own business can be a significant amount of work. And doing so as a mother working out of your home can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Many of the issues come from the ease with which the lines between work and personal life can blur. Familial, financial, and self-care obligations can all crowd into your work schedule. Professional notifications and communications can interrupt your personal life at all hours of the day.

If you’re suffering from too much work-life integration, here are a few tips to help you keep these two areas of your life both compartmentalized and thriving over time.

1) Establish boundaries

This is one of the most common recommendations you’ll find — and for good reason, too. If you don’t set up clear boundaries between your work and personal lives, they will overlap, especially if they’re both happening in the same space.

Good ways to establish clear boundaries between work and personal activities include:

  • Setting up a dedicated space for your work activities.
  • Making it clear to your family that they cannot disturb you (except for emergencies) when you’re working.
  • Confidently communicating with clients and coworkers that you cannot be available 24/7.

Good boundaries are ground zero for a healthy work-life balance.

2) Create a CTS

A commitment tracking system, or CTS, is one of the most important tools for preventing work-life integration. The CTS concept isn’t complicated, either. It consists of creating lists that help you track all of your commitments.

However, a good CTS isn’t just a glorified to-do list. It should have dedicated lists for things like open loops, short-term actions, and long-term projects. That way, you can find a place for anything, from replacing a picture frame to finishing a massive project at work all in one easy-access location.

You can use many different tools to create a CTS, from complex software to a simple notepad app. Find a tool that you’re comfortable with, and start inputting all of your commitments, ASAP.

3) Set up a calendar, too

Along with a system to track your commitments, you also need to establish structure in your life. With both business and familial responsibilities everywhere you look, things like schedules and a good calendar can make sure nothing is falling through the cracks.

The good news is, if you have a CTS for your commitments, it can declutter your calendar. Instead of putting every responsibility on there, just use it for time-based or human-based interactions. Do you have a meeting with someone? Add it to your calendar. Does your kid have soccer on Thursdays? Put it on the calendar.

Cultivating a clear calendar doesn’t just improve organization. It also helps you see every social and interactive commitment you have at any given moment. Having this kind of structure in your life can help you stay motivated and in charge as responsibilities tend to sneak up on you less often.

4) Give yourself breaks and margins

The ability to embrace challenges is one of the key traits of female entrepreneurs. But just because you’re willing to take on the issues that cross your paths doesn’t mean they’re resolved instantaneously. Everything takes time, and if you book up your schedule too much, you start to get overwhelmed and burned out.

That’s why you must give yourself breaks and margins. As an entrepreneur and mother, this likely seems impossible. But we’re not talking about recklessly extravagant self-care activities here. This is simply tending to the requirement of building legitimate “breathing room” into your schedule.

In other words, don’t fill every moment with more work or plans. Lean on things like your CTS and calendar to make sure each day has a reasonable amount of work and a solid chunk of wiggle room for when the unexpected pops up. 

Breaks and margins aren’t selfish or unnecessary. They’re a responsible way to give your full attention to each responsibility that you have. They can also help you identify common entrepreneurial concerns, like creative burnout, and then find ways to address them before they become bigger issues.

Avoiding work-life integration at home

If you let your home business and personal lives overlap at will, the results can be overwhelming. Instead, work hard to establish clear lines between your personal and professional activities.

Use tools like a commitment tracking system and personal calendar to stay organized. Set clear boundaries between work and family. Make sure you’re giving yourself reasonable breaks and margins each day.

If you can do that, you can put your best foot forward with your business and your family, without constantly worrying about one interrupting the other.

Photo by Brandy Kennedy