As any working mother knows, balancing the demands of a job and the needs of a family can be pretty tricky.  But when you’re trying to run a business from home, it can actually be even more difficult.  For one thing, an office provides a relatively calm and noise-free space in which to conduct business, whereas working on your home turf means kids and pets underfoot and almost constant interruptions while you attempt to get work done.  And splitting time between your kids and your clients often means that you don’t give your full attention to either one.  So how can you better manage your time and organize your life in order to reduce stress?  Here are a few tips and tricks to get you on track.

  1. Separate spaces.  One of the easiest ways to get organized and manage your separate spheres is to clearly delineate the spaces in which you operate.  Set up a home office and confine your work activities to this room.  Don’t let the kids come in and leave their toys, and don’t take your laptop or paperwork out into the rest of the house.  When you have a regular job, you can leave the office (and the stress) behind at the end of the day.  It’s a bit more difficult when you work from home.  But by making an effort to separate “work” and “home”, you’ll be able to physically close the door on your office so you can mentally focus on your family (and vice versa).
  2. Set a schedule.  If you don’t have a schedule in place to manage your time, you are likely to fail on all fronts.  By laying everything out, you’ll know when you have to hit deadlines for work and when you need to get the kids to school, activities, and so on.  Then you can figure out logistics like drive time, and work in trips to the market and other errands for maximum efficiency.  The time you save is priceless.
  3. Project management software.  Most of us use a mish-mash of to-do lists, post it notes, and electronic reminders to get through the day.  But by using project management software, you can seriously cut down on the clutter and better organize your work (if not your whole life).  Many come equipped with tools to manage multiple projects, clients, and files, budgets, and schedules, as well as compatibility with mobile devices.  Check out sites like Basecamp HQ, TaskPoint, and LiquidPlanner, all of which are SaaS (software as a service means no downloads and a tax write-off), and are geared towards small business management.
  4. Ask for help.  There are certainly times when your focus will be pulled by either your family or your work.  You may be able to juggle them a bit more easily with some help.  Don’t be afraid to ask your spouse to jump in and take a sick child that you’ve been tending all day so that you can get some work done.  You’re in a partnership and you are each contributing to the bottom line.  So there’s no reason you can’t share equally in the parenting duties as well.  But don’t expect your honey to read your mind; you usually have to ask if you expect to get help.
  5. Make time for you.  If you’re totally stressed out, you’re not going to do anyone any good.  So make sure to pencil in a little time here and there for a short nap, a decadent bubble bath, or a day at the spa with the girls.  Fitting in some R&R will keep you happy and energetic, two attributes you’ll definitely need to be a good mother and run a successful business at the same time.

Jennifer Kardish writes for Software for Project Management where you can find free project management software and an assortment of other software for your personal or business needs.

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