There are so many awesome things about working for myself at home: getting to see my husband and dog all day, being able to walk or play the piano whenever I want, and having complete control over my entire day.
What isn't very awesome about it is living at work. It is so much easier to lose yourself in the task and completely forget to spend time on yourself. There are all kinds of wonderful perks to working at home, but if you don't budget the hours in the day wisely, you could end up missing out on all of them... Like I did for a while.
We recently moved to beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. The overly-used word awesome truly applies to this stunning landscape which was the backdrop for the movie The Last of the Mohicans. We live in a great apartment in the mountains with spectacular views and black bears wandering into the yard on occasion. I was so excited to move in that all I could think about was the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway, Chimney Rock, and the fantastic downtown, but after we moved in, my priorities quickly shifted.
Within the first week I was working night and day to get orders large and small out and finish enough pieces to put in two galleries downtown. While I love painting and had a blast doing it all, I began to feel not only tired, but like it had been a long time since I'd really been myself. Instead, I was becoming my business.
Working out a budget for time is so important. When you run a home business--especially a creative one that makes you happy--it's very easy to let time just get away from you. Recently, I wrote about this topic for an Etsy team blog, Aspiring Artisan's Guild, but I didn't really get into too much detail.
Time isn't visual--obviously-- so making your organization for it a visual thing can be an important aspect of setting up a budget. Make a list of everything--and I mean EVERYTHING--that makes up your day. Write down what it is and how much time it takes.
Once you've done this, pull out a highlighter and go over everything you think is a waste or could be reduced. Remember, making time for yourself is ridiculously important, so don't say that reading time, bubble bath hour or other creature comforts are wastes: they aren't. Creature comforts get us through life. It's mostly important to make sure you aren't over doing it with them. Just as you don't want to spend too much time working, make sure your "me" time isn't turning into something akin to Narcissus's "me" time by that pool of water.
When you look at the list and begin adding up the time you'll find that it is completely ridiculous. 23 hours?! What happened to that sleep you know get? The important thing to do when you finish the list is to go back through and figure out how many of those hours are actually multi-tasked. For example: I'm on Twitter all day. I actually look at it and tweet for about 2 hours total, but I am never solely on Twitter. I often tweet while painting and surfing my team forums simultaneously, so what I wrote down as being 2 hours here, 3 there is really all taking place at the same time.
Mapping out all of your day and making a complete schedule for yourself can be very helpful (this chart you just made can certainly aid in setting that schedule for yourself down), but often the most helpful thing is just being aware of how you're spending time. Is running errands at the most busy time of day taking 3 hours really necessary or will getting up earlier, running them in less time, and being able to catch a brief nap in the afternoon if needed shave an hour--and some frustration--off of your day?
Another thing to think about is whether it's the lack of time causing stress or how you're spending that time causing it? I actually work more hours now than I did, but feel more relaxed about them because it feels like I have them under control.
There's no way to ever really have time "under control." I'm not God, so like every other being alive, I get 24 hours in a day. No one can overdraw and no one has ever under drawn (that I am aware...). This is just one of those things in life where the illusion of feeling like you know what's going on really does help get you through the day. Finding the best strategy to trick yourself into being calm is entirely up to you!