Work-at-home creatives decide to work at home for many reasons. For some, it is out of necessity, for others, personal fulfillment. Either way, working is meant to improve our quality of life: to provide for us, to give us flexible income, or to strengthen our sense of self.
But what happens when work takes over our lives? What if the work that was meant to improve our quality of life ends up making life worse? It is easy to become sedentary, with hours spent at a craft bench or computer. Working at home also blurs the line between office hours and family time, and can easily cause added stress and a lack of sleep.
Sometimes, we reach a point where we need to slow down. Yes, it is hard to come to terms with; but when our physical and mental health is on the line, it just might be a necessity.
We don't have to throw in the towel, and we don't have to give up. Slowing down can just be about scaling back a bit.
If you're ready to take it slow (like I am doing this month with August Break), here are seven ways you can gain control of your work load without shutting things down altogether:
1. List only what you have available to sell.
I used to be in the habit of selling out on items, and re-listing them for sale before I even made more. I hated the thought of missing out on a sale; however, if you're finding it difficult to keep up with orders and you're lacking down-time, stop re-listing products before they're made! If everything in your shop is immediately available to ship, you'll lose that added feeling of pressure in your life.
Are you still striving for the elusive "life balance"? Check out this post on what a balanced life really means.
2. Set business hours.
Working at home makes it nearly impossible to separate work life and home life. If you set business hours and publicize them in your shop, then you can take some time for yourself and your family, guilt free. Customers will know when to expect availability, and maybe you won't be chained to your laptop or phone 24/7.
Still not sure about setting business hours? Read this debate on the pros and cons of being constantly available.
3. Edit your product line.
Get rid of the products you don't enjoy making anymore. Say goodbye to those pieces that just don't fit in with the rest of your line. Get rid of seasonal items that are now out-of-season, or products that aren't really in style anymore. Need some help editing your product line? Read this post on finding a common thread for your online store.
4. Raise your prices.
Raising prices can do one of three things: decrease your sales, increase your sales, or make no difference at all. If either of the two latter things happen, try raising your prices again. If your object is to decrease your work load, doesn't it make sense to decrease your incoming orders AND get paid more for the time you put in? Want to know more about product pricing? Read this post.
5. Create a queue for custom orders and services.
Some online mavens have a customer queue that goes 6 months into the future. Instead of stacking your plate a mile high, why don't you create a schedule and a queue for your business - just make it clear that there is a wait list, but your services are worth the wait! Discover your purpose for working, and if you are actually living the life you want to have.
6. Set your products as Made-To-Order with a longer turnaround time.
An alternative to tip #1 is to keep all of your product line available for purchase, but make it clear that the items are made-to-order. Be honest about how long it will take to make - don't underestimate the time you will really need to finish the order.
Check out this post on setting boundaries in work and business.
7. Put your shop on vacation mode.
If you're close to a nervous breakdown, or you seriously overwhelmed - don't be afraid to put your shop on vacation mode! Vacations are just as important to those who work inside the home as to those who work outside the home. Take some time off just for you; travel with the family; or work on those projects that have been nagging at you for months. Want more rut-busting tips? Try this post.
If you find guilt is a driving factor in your current business model, stop! Feelings don't lie, and if your gut instinct is that you need to slow down a bit - whether for your mind, body, or for your family - you should give that feeling some attention. Here's one final post that may help you: Getting Over Guilt.
Best of Luck,