The Home Based Business Juggling Act

"If you want to see what children can do, you must stop giving them things."

- Norman Douglas

The Home Based Business Juggling Act

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

Yes, men are from Mars and women are from Venus - everybody knows that!

So how does the different ways they think impact on how they handle working at home?

First, neuroscientific research affirms that women tend to be highly skilled multi-taskers, while men are comfortable concentrating on one thing for longer periods of time. Though women often take pride in their ability to juggle tons of things at once, multi-tasking has its shortcomings - it's the core reason that women tend to over-commit and burn out. It also inhibits creative thought because some of our best thinking is done when our minds are quiet and we allow ourselves to focus on one thing.

Flip side - a man’s ability to focus on one thing for a long time can be seen as beneficial, but it can also lead to tunnel vision and an insensitivity to people and behavior not seen as 'mission critical'. Men also tend to believe that spending a lot of time on a project equals better results - something that may be untrue because short bursts of concentration are often more effective than carrying over tasks and projects for extended periods.

These characteristics can have a significant impact on work-at-home business operators. Most women will have a tendency to take on too much in one day, trying to keep up with caring for home, family and business equally (taking a business call with baby on hip while stirring the soup pot), while men may become withdrawn and may be more likely to obsess over the work at hand.

It's useful to keep these differences in mind when creating a work plan and scheduling your time for the week.

Time Management

In real life, building your home based business in a family environment is going to be a juggling act.

Time management will be among your biggest challenges – there’s always something around the home that will be battling for your attention. Without a strategy to stay on course, you won’t do justice to either your business or your family, and burnout lurks around every corner.

First, be realistic that the home based business juggling act means that you need to be flexible. When your kid tries to flush her teddy bear down the toilet - telling your working spouse that you`re too busy with your business to babysit the plumber isn't going to fly.

Second, take the value of your time into account in making your decisions about whether to tackle the job yourself or source it out. Determine the value of your time per hour and ask, "Should someone who charges $xx an hour be doing this"? If somebody else can do the work for a fraction of what you charge for your services, it makes sense to hire them. In particular, don't rely on 'do it yourself' when it comes to computer technology.

Be sure you have a responsive computer support team on hand that will make home service calls promptly, if necessary. These days, if your computer's down, you're out of business.

While there are many resources available for hire that are designed for small and home based business, a solid grasp of Microsoft Office, Quickbooks, ( Buy QuickBooks Premier and Save 20% ), and proficiency using the Internet will make you more self-sufficient and will cut down on professional services fees.

Break Your Day into Segments

The best time management plan will have you getting up in the morning knowing exactly what your day looks like (leaving some flexibility for the unexpected, of course).

Schedule your time according to your personal energy patterns. If you`re a morning person, jump into your most important tasks first thing. If you`re a night owl, use that time to deal with email and other correspondence that isn't time sensitive. If you`re in Direct Selling or MLM, plan to spend some time in the evening and weekends to communicate with part-timers that hold down traditional day jobs.

Break the day into time segments, some dedicated to your home based business, some to family, then concentrate on the task at hand to the exclusion of needless distractions.

Here's a look at how I keep my home based business moving forward, modified for a family with kids (even if you don’t have children these practical ideas will make the days run more smoothly).

o Mondays – Laundry/Business tasks (phase out items that need ironing and use drying racks to reduce time in the dryer). Pack lunches and lay out clothes (including your own) for tomorrow.

o Tuesdays – Evening grocery shopping (leave the kids at home, if possible)/Business tasks. Exercise session. Pack lunches and lay out clothes (including your own) for tomorrow.

o Wednesdays – House cleaning (include the kids in age-appropriate activities like making their own beds)/Business tasks. Pack lunches and lay out clothes (including your own) for tomorrow.

o Thursdays - Business tasks. Exercise session. Pack lunches and lay out clothes (including your own) for tomorrow.

o Friday – ‘Take it Easier’ day/Reading/Hobby time/Business tasks as time permits

o Saturdays – Meal planning/preparation for upcoming week. Exercise session, including kids, if possible. 1-2 outside errands or outdoor chores.

o Sunday – Church/Socializing/Recharge. Pack lunches and lay out clothes (including your own) for tomorrow.

This strategy can save your sanity, heighten your home based business productivity, and allow for a 40-hour work week without sacrificing the other important things that need doing. If it seems a bit rigid on paper, set your skepticism aside for a month and give it a try’ll find it easier as you go. It has many side benefits including teaching your children invaluable lessons on time management, eating properly, and learning how to look after themselves and their own families when the time comes. Kids thrive in an orderly, predictable environment, so reduce or eliminate any influences that promote chaos in your home.

Ready to think outside the box?

How about having your groceries delivered to your door? What could you do with all the time you wouldn't spend in the checkout line?

In the Kitchen

o Plan menus a week ahead – even better prepare meals ahead.

o Having a daily plan is efficient. You know what you’re preparing and you’ve made sure all the ingredients are available and at hand. Better yet – set aside a couple of hours a week on the weekend to prepare food in advance and freeze it. Preparing several dishes at once is more efficient – if two dishes include chopped onions, you can chop enough for both at one time. (Pasta dishes, in particular, freeze great!) Prepare a fresh salad while the entree heats and you’re ready to serve in minutes. Get the kids involved in helping with age-appropriate tasks, including the clean up.

o Invest in a slow cooker (you can get a good one for less than $30). Have the ingredients pre-assembled in packets in the fridge, then combine them in the cooker in the morning and you have dinner ready to serve.

o Planning will pay big dividends: time saving, better nutrition, and saving money at the grocery store.

Better Nutrition

o When you look at the week ahead, it’s much easier to cover your bases to assure you’re including all the food groups each day.

o Include the kids in the planning. It’s a great way so spend quality time while teaching them that they can make choices, but treats have to be balanced by high-nutrition foods.

Saving Money

o If you limit visits to the grocery store once a week or less, stick to a list, and never shop hungry, you’ll spend much less. And if you stick to your plan, you’ll tend to have fewer leftovers (or leftovers will be included in your meal plan).

o Steer clear of pre-packaged and prepared foods. You’ll pay a lot more to eat prepared foods and you’ll sacrifice nutrition – for one thing, they're laden with salt.

Stay Organized

Force yourself to start organized, and stay organized. Whether you're using cardboard boxes or file cabinets, take time at least once a week to put everything in its place.

Minimize the amount of paper you store in your home based business. It takes up tons of space and makes it hard to find stuff. Instead, scan and file documents on your computer, keep a backup copy on disk, and get rid of the paper version.

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