Running a business requires focus and determination—not to mention long hours and personal sacrifices to keep everything running smoothly. Staying busy with your business means you might not have time for everything in your personal life. And it’s a vicious cycle: If you’re treading water at home, it can make your work life feel extra chaotic. So how can you stay organized at home to make sure you’re able to focus on your business? Three small business owners share their top tips.
1. Put it on the calendar
Andrew Follett, founder of the video production business Demo Duck, acknowledges that things can get a little hectic as a business owner with three young kids at home. He and his wife have found that having a shared calendar to keep on top of everyone’s schedules has proved invaluable. “Having a whiteboard calendar in our kitchen helps us to have visual reminders of what’s going on each week,” Andrew says.
The shared calendar allows him to know what his wife is doing and what the kids’ schedules are. “Staying organized at home is a big part of what helps me be organized at work,” he says. “Constant communication helps me ease my stress at home, which then allows me to focus more fully when I'm at work.”
2. Cross off your to-do lists
Like many entrepreneurs, Allyson Renee runs her company, Forward Planning, a business consulting service, out of a home office. So for her, managing her personal life hits her business close to home—literally.
Allyson stays organized by using to-do lists to manage her personal tasks. “I have so many to-do lists. It is very important to me to look at that list, see what's checked off, see what's not checked off, and be able to get back to it,” she says. Ultimately, crossing personal items off her list lets her better focus on her business. “I have to have the ability to discipline myself so that I can stay focused,” she says. “Being an entrepreneur means that every single day, even when I’m in my home, I have to put on my entrepreneur hat, and I have to realize that my business will only succeed if I'm focused.”
3. Make a spreadsheet
If an organization strategy works for you at your business, there’s a chance it could help in your personal life, as well. For Amy Dordek Dolinsky, co-founder of the sales firm GrowthPlay, spreadsheets are a handy tool at home as well as at the office. “My husband and my children may or may not appreciate this, but I bring spreadsheets into my personal life,” Amy says. “We use spreadsheets to organize trips or activities.”
Amy believes that the lines between your business and personal life don’t have to be rigid. “Often, you can bring them together in a way that is fulfilling and very effective and actually can be very beneficial.”
Don't stop there!
Here are a few more ideas to keep your personal life running smoothly so you can feel confident in your entrepreneurship endeavors, as well:
- Make a schedule and create deadlines: Just like you might block off time on your calendar for meetings at work, schedule time to complete any household tasks that might slip through the cracks when you’re pressed for time. Make a deadline to complete personal to-dos, whether it’s anything from a load of laundry to catching up on personal emails or phone calls.
- Delegate whenever possible: Are there responsibilities around the house that your spouse, partner or children could help out with? Find ways for everyone to pitch in. Or, check out apps or services that might deliver groceries, pick up laundry or handle tasks around the home if you feel it might free up some of your time.
- Maximize your weekends: Create a list of items you want to accomplish on the weekend—you can think of it like a two-day “bucket list.” But don’t forget: it’s important to relax and recharge, too! Be sure to add some down time to your weekend schedule if that’s what you need.
Whether you embrace technology or rely on old-fashioned sticky notes, having a dedicated system to use at home and in the office is critical to your peace of mind and, ultimately, to your business’s success.
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