As a home-based entrepreneur you must be familiar with the envious musing of your friends, “You’re so lucky to be working from home! I wish I could too!” If only they knew. Balancing domestic responsibilities and a professional enterprise is no easy feat; even the most organized entrepreneurs find it difficult to manage both work and home.
Sure, it looks simple—a job in your comfort zone with no fixed hours and plenty of freedom. But working from home erases the physical boundaries, differentiating the personal and professional space. The trick is to find the silver lining, i.e. managing your organization without losing your hold on reality.
Challenging though it is, the benefits enjoyed by homepreneurs far outweigh the difficulties:
- Flexible work hours
- Your home is your workspace
- Unlimited income opportunities
- Freedom from cumbersome office politics and hierarchy
- Lot of scope for growth and global exposure
- No need to maintain a fixed dress code
- Diverse freelance opportunities
Gone are the days of conventional business practices in a 9-5 office setting. Now, more and more entrepreneurs are shifting to the virtual platform, particularly if they’re looking to hire out their skills and services to different companies, as a home-based consultant or freelancer.
If you’re a consultant or a freelance entrepreneur like a writer or designer, there are hundreds of free job-listing directories online, or subscription-based sites such as Flexjobs. The difference with subscription sites is they aim to simplify your job search by filtering only the most authentic job postings. And while this might look suspicious as most job portals are free of charge, subscription sites screen illegitimate scam listings and prevent your having to wade through tons of useless ads. They also often contain newspaper listings, and save you time by listing only the most relevant jobs to your search.
Once you’ve decided to base your freelance or consulting business from home, there are a number of ways to maintain the delicate balance of work and home life:
1. Recreate a Professional Atmosphere
Working in a pair of sweatpants sure sounds comfortable, but it’s not necessarily the most productive idea. Getting dressed helps you set the correct atmosphere and focus better on your work. Also, as you’re working from home, you’ll probably be doing most of your dealings via video conferences therefore dressing up helps you create a good impression. Create clear-cut boundaries between work and home assign a corner of your house specifically for work. A proper work environment sets the correct mood for business, helping you be at your professional best.
2. Keep Work and Personal Schedules Separate
Technology sure has improved our lifestyles, sparing us the discomfort of public transport, fixed working hours and office politics. People can now choose to work from the comfort of their homes and are free to manage their time as they like. But this excessive freedom has also been a hindrance, as most home entrepreneurs are so caught up in work that they forget their personal commitments, which takes a toll on their overall mental and physical health. Learn to organise your time and follow a fixed routine. Stay dedicated to your assigned workspace and maintain a certain degree of decorum.
3. Socialize—Don’t Cut Off the World
Working from home has its fair share of disadvantages; you cannot indulge in occasional office gossip, take breaks from work and enjoy time with your colleagues. Home entrepreneurs have no company and they are often cut off from the hierarchy of the workspace. This often makes them lonely and vulnerable to many mental and psychological problems. Don’t let your social life be limited to just your business clients and competitors; make it a point to call at least one friend or loved one every day. Visit friends and take out some time for your family, they’re important as well!
4. Don’t Neglect Your Health
Managing an enterprise from home can be extremely stressful, and oftentimes home entrepreneurs have a tendency to isolate themselves from the real world. Like a hermit holed up in his cave, you get stuck in your workspace, staring at the computer, lost in the virtual world of business dealings. But amidst all the long hours and tedious work, your health is neglected. Eat fresh food and go out once a while, there’s more to life than just your work!
5. Cut Yourself Some Slack—Learn To Shut Down Your “Work”
Working from home means that you don’t have to deal with fixed working hours and deadlines, you can work at your own pace. Take regular breaks and refresh your mind, learn to turn off the work for some time every day. The growth of your organisation is important but don’t let that become an obsession; ensure that you get a proper 7 hours of sleep every night. Irregular sleeping patterns not only make you cranky but also lead to serious medical issues if aggravated.