One of the most challenging aspects of building up an online business has nothing to do with business at all.
It is one’s family life.
Whether you’re a parent of young children (as I am) or you’re caring for older members of your family, it can often seem like it is a distraction from your goals online.
Of course, that’s not the attitude we want to have. Our families are important – far MORE important than any blog or website. It isn’t something that can be abandoned, and those who find themselves putting family on the back burner while they pursue these other online goals often end up regretting it.
The “trick” is to learn to manage it.
I spent 3 years working full-time while my two young children and my wife were home. After those 3 years, my wife had had enough and wanted to pursue some other things. So, she went back to work. Today, my children (ages 4 and 2) are in daycare during the day. My wife and I both work during the day, then our evenings are spent attending to family matters.
It has always been a huge balancing act. I can only imagine that it is a much tougher job as a woman. Being a mother and trying to do all these things – WOW! Huge respect to those who pull it off. It isn’t easy.
There are some things I’ve learned to do to keep a balance and get both done at the same time. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules – everybody is different. But, they help for me.
- Maintain an off-limits work space. This is a space with your computer that is your’s and you get your family’s agreement not to bother you when you’re in there. In my case, I have an office in the home. My family knows (for the most part) not to bother me when I’m in the office. Obviously, there are times when two-year old boy doesn’t listen, but that goes with the territory.
- Keep a schedule. I know one of the romantic goals of online business is to be free of set schedules. But, reality is, set schedules work. You need to impose one on yourself. Even if you can only squeeze a couple hours per day to work on your business, do everything you can do hold true to it. And get the agreement of your family that that’s work time and they shouldn’t bother you.
- Schedule family time. This is the reverse side of the prior tip. You MUST have “off” time when you purposely do not think about your business. You don’t want to be sitting there playing with your kids (in theory) while your mind is REALLY in your office. You’ve got to learn to turn it off like a switch. If you know you’ve got set work time, then make sure you have the set family time, too.
- Be a hard-ass with your time. If you’ve got really limited time to focus, you need to be downright ruthless about your productivity during that time. Don’t fudge around on Facebook and do other relatively useless stuff. Focus on the core things which will bring you results and leverage.
- Be ruthlessly clear on your outcomes. In a past post, I talked about the #1 reason why people spin their wheels working while getting little meaningful work done. It has to do with the ability to exactly NAME what the product is. You never want to go into the office “to go to work”. “Going to work” is too vague and has no clear outcome. Instead, have a specific goal. Is your goal to write 10 pages of an ebook? Or to finish that blog post? Or to record a video and edit it for publishing on Youtube? OK, THAT’S specific. Do that.
- Perform “just in time learning”. This is a phrase I first heard from my friend, Jason, over at Internet Business Mastery. It is the idea that you focus only on learning the things which you need right then, immediately applicable to what you’re doing. Don’t get distracted by the shiny objects. ProBlogger might have just published some nice post with a catchy headline, but don’t bother reading it during your scheduled work time unless it is immediately applicable to you and your business – right now.
- Consumption time is different than production time. You cannot eat and talk at the same time, and the same goes for our online work. You cannot be consuming content while at the same time creating it. And creating it is more important for your business. Consumption time includes Facebook, Twitter, G+, other blogs, forums – basically all the “interesting” stuff. Do that during a different time block than your scheduled work time.
- Learn how to get in and keep a rhythm. We all have different things which work for us to pump us up and keep focused. Some people like listening to music. Some prefer it to be totally silent. Others like the office while still others prefer a coffee shop. What is it for YOU? And what can you do to control the environment? If you need to disconnect from the family to be efficient, then perhaps going out to a local coffee shop will work better. Perhaps putting on noise canceling headphones and listening to music while you work will do the trick.
- Hire a VA. Hiring a VA can help you do a lot of things for your business. And it doesn’t have to be expensive. It can range from somebody in another country for $200/month up to a highly qualified person in the States who charges a much higher hourly rate. The point is, there are options for every demand and every level of economy. Be flexible, be cool, focus on systems…. and hire somebody. For a few hundred per month, you can have somebody helping you build your business while you’re at work or playing with the kids…. and those few hours you squeak out to work personally you can focus on the most important things that only you can do… and let THEM do the rest.
I’ll end off with this…
The success you seek is preceded by an attitude. This attitude isn’t one which must come inherently (although for some it does). It can simply be adopted.
That attitude is a focus on goals and of whatever it takes to get there…. RATHER than a focus on the barriers.
There WILL be barriers. Whether it be family or something else, this journey WILL have barriers. If it weren’t kinda hard, everybody would be doing it already.
But, don’t dwell on them. Don’t ever sit there and lament your lack of time due to your family or your job. Lamenting it only makes you unhappy. It CREATES unhappiness for yourself, and whether you know it or not, only YOU create your own emotions. Your emotions are not a result of the environment. Only you can cause them.
SO… view it as a game. That’s what it is.
Just like a quarterback has to get past the force of the defensive line and predict the right amount of effort to get the football to the receiver, so must you learn to get past those things which are in your way.
There is ALWAYS a way to make it work.
Family is important. For many of us, it is the REASON we do what we do. So, let’s not look at it as a barrier. Let’s change our minds and instead implement some sound policies where you can do both.
If you want to learn more about my approach to time management, check out Time Master Formula.