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The Smart Passive Income Podcast

AP 0869: How Do You Find the Right Work-Life Balance if You Work at Home?

AP 0869: How Do You Find the Right Work-Life Balance if You Work at Home?

By Pat Flynn on

AskPat 869 Episode Transcript

Pat: Hey, what’s up everybody? Thank you so much for joining me in this Episode 869 of AskPat. As always, I’m here to help you by answering your online business questions, five days a week.

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We have a great question today from Chris, and why don’t we just get right to it? Here it is.

Chris: Hi Pat, this is Chris from Germany. Before I ask you my question I want to thank you for creating such good content, and on the topic smart passive income. Everything, you’re right, is very inspiring for me, and I enjoy reading it a lot. Here’s my question. Next year I want to get self employed. I’m a family man, I’m a father of two kids. I want to work in my home office next year. The question for you is as far as I know, you are also working from home, from your home office. How do you separate family and work in your own house? Second question is, what is the biggest advice you can give someone who’s planning to get self-employed with a family? I hope this question will find its way in your podcast. Thank you already for answering it. Bye, bye.

Pat: Hey Chris, thank you so much for the question. It’s so cool that you want to start working from home because you have kids. I love that. Anytime I connect with another parent who is working a nine to five, and they just want to be more at home with their kids, and they want to start an online business to do that, it just makes me so happy because that’s what I’ve lived through. That’s a big passion of mine is helping other people experiencing that same thing. Thank you for calling in and asking your question.

Now, how do I separate home and work when you work from home? I’m glad you’re asking this question. It’s a very wise question for you to ask because as you can probably guess, it’s not easy. When you work from home, especially when the kids are there. When you’re in the office you’re like, “Ah, I want to be with my family.” Sometimes when you’re with your family you want to be like, “Ah, I need to do work in my office.” Since it’s right there it’s very easy to do, so I know a lot of people who are on both sides of the spectrum. Because they work at home, are not working as much because they are there with their family, which is their primary goal, and they’re just finding it hard to put in time to work.

At the other end of the spectrum, I can tell you that there are people who when they have their office at home, work way too much, and don’t spend a lot of time with their family even though that’s why they want to do that. Making sure you understand this balance is really important. The big thing to realize, anytime we talk about balance, work-life balance, balancing working in a home office versus being with your family at home. Balancing hobbies in your life with work. Anytime balance comes up in the equation you have to realize that perfect balance is almost impossible.

Think of a scale, right? One side has one thing, the other side has another. The point at which they are perfectly level is when there’s equal weight on both sides. How many times in your life can you say that there’s always equal weight on both sides? It’s going to be never, right? It’s just sort of this thing we’re all shooting for, perfect balance. That’s almost impossible, which is why we all get frustrated, and upset, and stressed out. The big idea with the sort of scale analogy is to just make sure that it’s not teetering too far over to one side, or the other. That there are moments when it might go to one side, but the big thing is to, okay, if it’s going too far how do you bring it back up to almost close to level? Then if it goes too far on the other side, well, how do you bring it back up?

Those systems are really important, and having systems in place so they don’t get too far on one side or the other is really what’s going to help out the most. Now, for me personally, and here’s the thing. Everybody’s going to have different ways of solving the problem of when you’re working from home, how to balance that situation. For me, it’s a couple things. One, boundaries and space. Two, boundaries and time.

Let’s talk about boundaries and space first. First, having an actual office where it has a door. It doesn’t need a door, but me for, that door signifies something, right? It’s like I close it, and if I’m inside, I’m in work mode mentally. If I’m outside, I’m out of work mode mentally. Meaning work is only done in that space, and when I enter it, that’s when I get into work mode. When I exit, that’s when I exit work mode and get into family mode. That physical space where I do work is really important.
I also have two computers. This is—actually I wrote an article about this a long time ago, and it got picked up on Lifehacker.com. This was way back in 2009 I think, or 2010. I have two computers. One computer is my desktop iMac, and that’s used for work, and work related things only. I do not do personal related things on it. The personal sort of just randomly surfing the web, or going down a YouTube rabbit hole, or anything like that. That’s done on my laptop outside of my office. Not only do I have physical space boundaries, but I have computer hardware boundaries when it comes to those things as well. That way I’m never trying to mix it, right?

The other thing that I mentioned was time boundaries. This is creating time in the schedule where you know that you’re going to work, and you also know that you’re not going to work. I think it’s really important to not only set those, but also honor those. Then to your last question in terms of best advice, and I have a lot more to talk about this so I’m not leaving you yet. This relates to the best advice. After you create your time boundaries, and your space boundaries, you want to make sure . . . This is the advice, you communicate that with your family, and the people who are in your house. Even your kids, especially your kids. You want to communicate that, “Hey, when daddy’s in his office, he’s getting work done, and the doors closed. Please don’t interrupt. I promise you, that when I’m out of this office, I’m not going to be thinking of work, I’m going to be there with you 100 percent mentally.”

Now of course that’s easier said than done, because as an entrepreneur your work is never done, right? It’s like a painting. How do you know when that last brush stroke is done, right? You could always keep adding brush strokes, or more color, or whatever. How do you know when you’re done? You just have to be done and say to yourself, “Okay, I’m going to come back to this later. Now I’m going to be with my family.” It’s hard to do. It’s hard to do at first, but the more that you can just be conscious about it, and mentally check in with yourself every once in awhile so you’re not on autopilot. A lot of times when you’re on autopilot, you’re going to forget a lot of these boundaries. Having these space and time boundaries, and communicating that with your family, especially your spouse, is really, really important so that when you’re in your office, your spouse knows to not interrupt, but also to support. But that you will also be there to support. Also, making sure the spouse is happy is really important too.

If you are spending a lot of time in the office, make sure that . . . especially when it’s launch week for something, or you’re really busy because something is coming up. You’re going to be in the office a little bit more. Make sure you balance that out on the other end with more family time. Maybe a vacation, or just going to the park with your family, or whatever. Even giving your spouse time for themselves, because they’ve given you time for yourself. All that sort of yin and yang kind of stuff is really, really key for having that happiness and stress free sort of situation going on.

The other thing I want to mention is that although I close the doors to my office when I’m working. I often open those doors when I’m doing work related things that don’t require just 100 percent mental focus. Sometimes I’m editing something, or sometimes I’m shooting, or editing a video, or even I’m about to get on a podcast. I invite my family in. I mean, my wife not so much. She’s already busy doing other stuff. My kids, I invite them into the office, and I show them what I’m doing. I talk about the process with them, I get them on the microphone. They want to touch the buttons and everything, guess what? I let them. I let them touch the buttons, I let them mess up the knobs on my podcast stuff. Of course I’ve taken a picture of that before hand so it can always go back to where it was. I do that because I don’t want them to consider this space in the house a space that takes daddy away, right?

I want it to be a space that they know where I go to do certain things that helps the family, but I also want them to experience what that’s like so that they can get involved, and be a part of the process too so it’s not this mysterious thing that I do, but it’s a thing that they know that I do. They know what the process is like, they’ve messed around with the things themselves, and if they ever want to get involved, which they are at that age now where they do, I let them, right?

Of course, they often want to do that even when I’m within my work mode and I say, “Hey, we’ll do that together at this time.” Letting them know that they’re going to get involved, and going to get a chance to do these similar things at certain times. If they really want to do it, but I just can’t right now. Letting them know, “I’m not saying no.” I don’t ever want to say no to them, but I want to say “Not yet,” or “Not at this moment.” Those kinds of responses do really well, because then you can get your stuff done. They are also looking forward to doing some things with you in there too.

Chris, that’s a lot of information. I could talk about this for days. I wanted to make it quick for you. Hopefully that helps, and good luck on your journey. I’m really looking forward to hearing how it pans out, and want to wish you all the best of luck. I think the motivation for why you’re doing what you’re going to do is key. Always remember that. It’s nice, because when you’re at home, your motivation is typically right outside that office door if you have an office. If you don’t, that’s okay. When I first started out, I just had a little nook in the corner of the kitchen, and that was my physical work space where I could only sit and do work. When I was in there, everybody knew that. When I wasn’t, then I could checkout mentally.

Chris, thank you so much. I appreciate you. I want to wish you the best of luck, and also send you an AskPat t-shirt. We’re going to send it all the way to Germany for you as a result of having your question featured here on the show. You’ll hear from my assistant in the next two to three weeks, and we’ll hook you up with that. For everybody else listening, if you have a question that you’d like potentially featured here on the show, just head on over to AskPat.com and you can ask right there on that page.

Thanks so much. I appreciate you. Make sure to check in on my Facebook page: Facebook.com/SmartPassiveIncome. Especially because Fridays at 1:30 p.m. Pacific, I conduct a live AskPat session where I answer as many questions as I can. It’s called AskPat Live. Again, that URL, 1:30 p.m. Pacific every Friday. That’s going to be at Facebook.com/SmartPassiveIncome. Then finally, as always, I love to end with a quote. This is a Latin proverb and that is, “By learning, you will teach. By teaching, you will learn.” All right guys, take care. I look forward to serving you in next week’s batch of episodes of AskPat. Until then, keep crushing it. You guys rock. Bye.

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