Families are spending more time together than ever. The coronavirus pandemic has closed schools, canceled public events, and moved offices remotely.
Parents, children, and other family members are being told to stay home, leaving many wondering how they are to balance business with family.
Running a business is demanding. Managing personal finances is stressful. Dealing with family dynamics can be crazy. Combine all 3 with a dash of global pandemic and you have a recipe for disaster—unless you’re careful.
Here are 5 tips for balancing business with family during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Set and Complete Daily Goals
Your to-do list may seem never-ending right now as you try to stabilize your business. It’s not uncommon for business owners to pull 12-hour days, especially now that they’re researching coronavirus financing options, managing remote teams, and stabilizing revenue.
However, pushing yourself right now is a great way to burn out and add stress to your situation. With the added health risks from COVID-19, a lack of sleep could also lower your immune system, making you more susceptible to the virus.
Instead of burying yourself in your work, take a more strategic and focused approach. Set aside time every evening to list 3–5 goals for the following day. The practice of collecting your thoughts and outlining tasks will give you more focus while working.
As you complete these daily goals, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment and purpose that will make it easier for you to step away and feel like you were productive. The psychological benefit of list-building has also been studied at length. A report from Wake Forest University found that simply writing tasks down will actually make you more effective.
If you want to balance work and family during the coronavirus, make and complete daily lists.
2. Develop Communication Boundaries
You wouldn’t let your kids play on their phones at the dinner table, so why would you take a call or respond to an email at that time? Set boundaries with your staff for when you can and should be contacted about work.
For example, you may decide that you won’t check your email at all after 6pm and instead use that time to be with your family.
If you have a call scheduled or a deadline in that window, it’s okay to be flexible. This tip isn’t a hard-and-fast rule—it’s a guideline to help you further develop work-life balance during the pandemic.
When you set a communication schedule with your team, you’ll find it much easier to relax. Rather than checking your emails and phone constantly to see if someone messaged, you’ll know the exact times that you need to monitor those channels. This practice will give you peace of mind and will help you devote your full attention elsewhere—like to your family.
3. Take a Mental Commute
It can be hard to symbolize an end of the day when you’re working remotely. Where the drive home gives you time to decompress from the day, working in a home office does not.
Develop a schedule where you have a set time to walk away from your home office or leave your physical office to disconnect from work. Some experts call this a “mental commute” or an option to mentally transition from work to your personal life.
Your “mental commute” can be a variety of things. If you work from home, it could be a 10-minute break to walk the dog outside. It could be a 20-minute window to play basketball with the kids. Whatever your ritual, use this activity to symbolize the end of your workday and the start of your personal time.
4. Know When to Be Honest with Your Family
Your family members, especially your kids, are more intuitive than you realize. They can pick up on your stress levels and will know when something is wrong with you or your business. Hiding financial woes and other problems will only cause them to assume the worst and worry about the family. You don’t want your kids to take that on.
Consider having an open discussion as a family about the state of your business. Talk about the steps you are taking to right the ship and weather this storm. You don’t have to tell your kids everything, but treating them like adults—or mature children—can show them an added level of respect and comfort.
5. Find Time to Support Your Spouse
As a business owner, you’re under a lot of stress right now, but so is your significant other. Focus not just on your mental health but also on their stress levels during this pandemic.
If your spouse is also working from home, consider working together if it makes sense. You can be each other’s accountability partner—helping keep one another focused and motivated.
If your spouse is mainly working around the house and managing the kids, take on extra chores or find ways to show appreciation and support for their work. For example, you may decide to watch the kids for a few hours so that your partner can relax and rest in the middle of the day.
Additionally, if the state of your business will affect your personal finances, talk to your spouse about it. While you may want to hide the bad news, they need to know what is going on so you both can plan accordingly.
No one wants to be blindsided by bad news. Sharing the finances of your business can help your partner support you mentally while allowing your family to prepare for any household changes ahead as a result of the financial crisis.
Developing a work-life balance was difficult for small business owners before the global pandemic. Now, it’s almost impossible. However, small business owners can take back some of the control by balancing their business and family during the coronavirus pandemic. Consider the 5 tips above if you’re struggling while working remotely right now.