Working from home and fitting this around your children can certainly bring with it some challenges!
I run my own VA business from home and I partly chose this business as it would fit in around my children. It certainly ticks the boxes for me in the sense that I can work during school hours and manage the workload accordingly.
Here are some top tips on how to work your VA business from home and allow it to fit in around your children too.
Set physical boundaries
Having a dedicated office space can help separate your VA business from your home life. A separate home office is ideal but if this isn’t possible then try and dedicate a separate space in your house where you can spread and work comfortably. You will need to keep business paperwork together and have a sufficient filing system in place to keep you organised and on track. Design a space that appeals to you, where you want to spend your working time.
Create a clear desk policy and invest in sufficient storage, this will help clear your head as well as your desktop. It is great if you can have space where you can shut the door and everyone knows when you are working. One of my children designed me an ‘I am working’ sign for my door so everyone knows if I am busy and can’t be disturbed. Communication is critical. Also remember you can shut the door, leave your computer and phone behind and then have quality family time – it can be done!
Set time boundaries
Having specific hours for working is great and it can ensure that everyone in your household understands when it is work time and when it is family time. Before I start work every day I run through my plan of tasks that need doing and write up my priority list. There are lots of ‘time suck’ activities involved in your VA business eg social media so a daily plan helps to give these a time frame. Just because your work is based from home it doesn’t mean you are simply ‘at home’. It is worth educating friends, neighbours and family about your working hours and try not to get drawn into putting on the washing etc which is easy to do. Think about when you personally work best – I know I am not a night owl so getting up early for me works better than staying up later.v
Dress for work
It may sound silly and no one expects you to sit at your kitchen table in your best suit, but if you dress professionally it is more likely you will act professionally – in your emails, telephone calls, social media or other communications with the outside world.b
Get out and about
It can be isolating working from home on your own so do plan in a walk, even if it involves the school run, just round the block to take in some fresh air can leave you refreshed and rejuvenated to tackle a new task. It is worth looking into relevant local networking meetings which would enable you to meet other home workers and provide the social contact which is important to all of us.v
Working virtually is fantastic and it is made so much easier with various technology but it can also be a hindrance! Technology can ensure you are always available to your clients, even when you are out and about. However beware of checking your emails even before you have even got up – remember to keep to those boundaries as you would if you were based in an office. Have quality time with your children and once they are at school your working day can begin. Remember that sending a client email at 11pm doesn’t look great either so bear those factors in mind.
Think about your health
If you work in an office appropriate height desks and adjustable chairs are provided as standard. Health & Safety is a key concern. You should take the same care of yourself at home – sitting on the sofa with your laptop on your knees may seem comfy but it won’t be helping your back in the long term.
I hope you have found these tips useful. We can’t get it 100% right all of the time but by setting a few boundaries and having a priority list we can achieve the balance between working and managing our family too.