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When two worlds collide: balancing work and home

Flexibility to set their own schedule and make their own decisions are often the most compelling reasons to become self-employed. A survey conducted in February 2006, by BusinessLink for London, shows women are more likely than men to cite this as a key benefit. Quite often because, whatever their working situation, women are still more likely to have most of the organisational responsibility for managing home and family.

A self-employed woman usually has a new business to manage, and a family to take care of. She might often feel life is in a constant state of near-chaos. Here are some positive steps to help integrate the two worlds smoothly.

Planning
Effective planning is the key. Keep one diary. Have family and work commitments all in one place. Instead of a mountain of paper notes get used to an electronic organizer. Everything will be in one place and reminders can be set for meetings or appointments. If using a PC calendar grab one of the combination phone/pocket PC which will synchronise with your PC. Then reminders will come even when away from the office. Blackberry's are one choice, but check out these others.
T-Mobile's MDA vario range
XDA from the Carphone Warehouse.
Have a good search around as the amount these gadgets can do increases every day, even to being able to take a signature from a customer for delivery. Apart from making a lot of small jobs a no-brainer, they look very professional as well.

Child or other dependant care
Arrange reliable care for your children or other dependants as soon as meeting dates or appointments are taken. Then make a good back up arrangement. Knowing home commitments are taken care of will allow full concentration on work. If working some distance away from home, have local emergency back-up cares for when things inevitably over-run or there are travel problems preventing you from getting home at the arranged time.

Flexibility
If flexibility is of your key benefits for becoming self-employed, allow yourself the luxury of using this flexibility. Here are some ways you can do this:
  • on a regular basis, perhaps only working during school hours.
  • work a longer day and take time out to attend special school performances or other social events.
  • Need to attend regular health clinic appointments or keep a breast-feeding schedule where possible.
  • Time out for family outings, kid's parties etc.
  • Have coffee with other working mothers and women in business for networking and advice.
Above all, lose the guilt when having time away from your business. Staying fresh and enthusiastic from time away now and again will mean the business will benefit in many other ways.

Keep your worlds apart
Do try to avoid bringing work issues home. But a trusted partner or friend can be fantastic to bounce ideas off and debrief after a hectic day. Also solutions can be found by tossing ideas and problems around. The trick is not to let a bad or strenuous affect your mood so much it affects the people at home. Talk it out and let it go, tomorrow is another day, and the cards will fall as they may. If working from home you should ,wherever feasibly possible, use a separate area for work. This allows the ability to switch-off when finished, and minimises the risk of interruption.
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