Although I only became an authorpreneur a little over a year ago, I’ve been working from home by contract for the past eight years. It’s a sweet set-up if you know how to work it, but it took some trial and error to find a good balance of work, family and play in my life.
Take vacations for example, my family just returned from a week in Florida for spring break. These trips mean the world to me because we only have a few more with our teenage sons. It’s prime family time but for me it’s also work time.
When you’re your own boss your work goes with you everywhere.
That rankles some. It goes against the traditional idea of vacation where work is left behind to give you uninterrupted time to focus on your family and create fun memories. But after working this way for over eight years I argue that although the traditional idea of a vacation may no longer be an option for me, the replacement is just as good and possibly better.
The key to enjoying your working entrepreneur vacation is to let go of traditional notions of work days, weekends, home time and vacations. Because so much of society still functions on those concepts it can be hard at first. Moms working from home can feel the same guilt as those who work at an office. It’s the classic contradictory pull of family when you are engaged with work and work when you are engaged with your family. Reading The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey gave me my first spark of the idea of breaking my day into smaller chunks and integrating my work and home life. It took some trial and error. There were so many factors I could now incorporate into creating my ideal schedule–my kids’ schedules, the fact that I’m a morning person, the best days and times to grocery shop to avoid crowds, the best times for me to exercise, and my own style of working. What started as chaos has now become a relatively smooth running schedule that allows me to focus on those things that are important to me. I get to be the mom who never misses a school event. The concept of rush hour traffic is completely foreign to me now and my family never has to skip a trip somewhere because I don’t have enough vacation time saved up at work.
But yes, I am that woman, the one with her laptop at Disney, cranking out email replies over Mickey-shaped waffles at breakfast. From the outside it might look like I’m the work-obsessed entrepreneur unable to set my work aside and spend time with my family. But my family and I see a very different picture. They see my chunks of work time as downtime to play a video game or catch up with friends or do a guy thing that I have no interest in. We’ve all adjusted our idea of vacation to include chunks of play time interspersed with my work time.
Ironically while I was in work mode checking social media on this trip I ran across a fantastic article that confirmed my theory that the way I work is the wave of future. Brilliant futurist, Faith Popcorn posted an article with her predictions for the shape of work in 2025, The Future of Work. She paints a somewhat scary but mostly exciting picture of successful people who use technology to manage multiple income streams and build a life that works for them. It not only confirmed the validity of my current work status, but sparked some great conversations in our family about what work and family and play might look like for our kids someday.
Running your own business while juggling home life isn’t easy. I have more things on my idea list than I could possibly complete, all of which need to be balanced with the work already in progress and dentist appointments, family reunions and the occasional wine and Nexflix marathon. But I’m making it work and focusing on the upsides because I’m building my business and at the same time I’m still making vacation memories with my family.