Running a business from home can go one of two ways. Either it can be your one way ticket to the best health of your life, or it can be an invitation for various new stresses, problems and things that can go wrong. Which it turns out to be for you is all down to the way you manage both that business and your health.
And it all begins by understanding just how connected these two seemingly disparate matters are: there is a lot of synergy between your career, your lifestyle and your health and you need to approach these things as one challenge rather than separate ones.
This five minute guide will provide the perfect overview and introduction that can help you to do just that… And you'll learn all that in just five minutes!
Part 1: Lifestyle Design
The first concept we should touch on is lifestyle design. What is lifestyle design? Essentially, it means coming up with a career and designing the other aspects of your routine in such a way that it supports the lifestyle you want to live.
This is the exact opposite of the approach most of us are used to taking. Most of us will instead take up a job and then our lifestyle will just kind of ‘happen' around that. Often we ‘fall into' the job rather than choosing it specifically and then we are forced to choose where we are going to live, how we are going to spend most of our time and when we will exercise all based around the parameters set by that job.
Lifestyle turns this on its head by asking: what's important to you? What would it take to make you happy? Then, you look at creating a career that supports those objectives.
In this case, if we are looking at health, we will ask about how the job we're doing can better support our health. If your career is leaving you tired and stressed and you're struggling to find the time or energy to exercise… then you need to change something about your job! Come up with your goals and from here design your training program. Now think about how you can fit those four hours a week of training into your working day routines. Can you go before you sit down at the computer? Would it make more sense to go in the afternoon when the gym is nice and quiet? Which days will you have most energy?
And we are also including ‘happiness' here under the umbrella of health. So as you're designing your own career and your own lifestyle, you should also be asking yourself what you can do to make yourself happier. For many people, that will mean spending more time with the people they love, travelling more and having more time relax.
Some people take the idea of traveling through lifestyle design to its ultimate conclusion – and as a result they end up as ‘digital nomads' – people who spend their entire lives travelling while they make enough money to live off of from the web with just a laptop.
Note that not everyone will want to go as far as to become a digital nomad – you can end up really missing all your creature comforts and friends if you live perpetually on the move. In that case, a good ‘compromise' is to simply go on more holidays and trips in your spare time and to do more unusual and fun activities to make the most of the flexibility that comes from running your own business.
For many people, the best type of business model to support lifestyle design, will be one that provides passive income. Simply put, passive income is money that you aren't working for. This means that you are earning cash even as you sleep because you have a product that is selling or because you are able to outsource the work for commission.
This then means you're no longer trading time for money – and if you can get to that position you will find it's much easier to put your health first!
Part 2: Energy Management
A lot of this comes down to energy management. Often when we're struggling to start a new training regime, we will be tempted to blame our time and we say that we don't have enough hours in the day in order to fit in our work.
But the reality for most of us is that we have more than enough time. If you've ever watched an entire boxset of some TV drama or other, then that's a clue that you probably have enough time! The problem is, that you're coming home from work feeling stressed, tired and worn out and that's why you can't find the will power to get off the sofa and do a full workout.
So if you're going to work from home and you want to ensure you really benefit from that, you need to think about what you can do to maximize your energy levels.
This is also how you make sure you have the time and energy to spend time with your family and friends and to really enjoy your free time.
And the most important thing here? Somewhat ironically, that is to give yourself structure and discipline and not to allow yourself to get into bad habits. You need to set the hours you are going to work and you need to set the hours you are not going to work and you have to ensure that these are clearly defined and separated.
Part 3: Separating Your Home Life and Work Life
One good example of how you can separate your home life and work life, is to make sure that you are not working from home. Working from home does not have to be a phrase that you take literally – it can instead mean ‘working not from an office'.
Being a digital nomad means working out of an office but so do does working from a coffee shop. Or how about working outside somewhere on a laptop in the sun?
Doing this helps you to create a clear psychological distinction between when you're working and when you aren't working. Likewise, actually leaving the house means you get to take more steps in a day, you get to meet other people (even if that only means talking to the baristas in the coffee shops!) and you get to get some fresh air.
Also important is to resist the temptation to work into the evening to try and earn more money, or to meet a deadline that you promised a client. To ensure you don't do this, the first tip is to aim to ‘under promise and over deliver'. In other words, don't promise you'll get them their work tomorrow but the day after. If you finish faster, you'll really impress the client. And if you don't? Then you won't feel tempted to work until 3am to hand it in (which only makes you even less productive the next day).
Likewise, think carefully about which clients you accept and which projects you take on. Don't accept work if you can't afford it and don't work with clients who send too many e-mails or want to have ‘Skype meetings' just for a $10 order. Stick with the clients that are fast to pay and who are more interested in working efficiently together rather than ‘playing business'.
All this can be scary. The thought of turning down work is something many of us find difficult but there are a few tips you can use to make it easier. The first is to make sure that you have more than one revenue stream. In other words, set up a scenario where you are also earning money from an app or from a website and that way you can focus on this on the quiet days and the income will help make up for quiet patches.
Another tip is to try outsourcing work to virtual assistants and others which means you can focus instead on the parts of the job that require your presence and that you really enjoy. You can also use software to automate a lot of your job.
Finally, make a pact with yourself not to answer e-mails after 5pm. Set up an autoresponder telling people that you won't be answer messages during those hours and have a separate phone for home and for work.
By the same token though, it is equally just as important that you tell your family and friends that they can't interrupt you during working hours. Treat your working day as you would any office job – you are not free to meet up on a whim unless you've finished your work. You can be more flexible but make sure you stick to a routine and you don't make exceptions when you feel like it.
Having a strict set of goals for how much you need to earn in a day (as a minimum) can also be a good idea and help you to be strict in these ways.
Part 4: Sleep
Sticking to a routine, working towards goals and having systems to keep work and your private life separate will all help you to stay less stressed and to be more productive.
What's also very crucial for both these things is getting the right sleep. Getting sleep is absolutely critical because it will help you to be more focused, energized and productive when you wake up. Think of sleep as being sacred and make sure you don't let anything interfere with it.
A few things can help you to get better sleep. One tip is to make sure that you stop looking at phones and computers an hour before bed. This will help you to avoid the unnatural blue light that makes our brains think it's morning. At the same time, you'll avoid stresses that can be caused by seeing a work-related e-mail last thing at night.
A hot shower helps a lot before bed too, as does making sure that you get all the right vitamins and minerals. Vitamin D, magnesium, zinc and melatonin all help us to sleep and can be found in our food. Finally, make sure that your bedroom is dark and that you have removed noise as much as possible.
Part 5: Your Work Environment
Your working environment also impacts on your health and productivity. If you're running a home business, then chances are that you're going to be spending most of your working day on the computer. This has potential to be bad for your back and for your arms and wrists.
Try to make sure your computer is at head height, that your arms are bent at right angles and that you hover your wrists above the keys. Try to change position regularly and get up often to go for walks. Finally, make sure that you think about the light in your area. Having a view out a window can do wonders for your mental health but do ensure it's not creating glare on the computer screen which can lead to eyestrain, headaches and other issues.
Part 6: Diet and Exercise
If you're looking to lose weight, then eat a little less. If you're looking to build muscle, then eat more protein. More importantly though, your goal should be to support your body's energy processes to help yourself become more productive and more focused.
The best way to do this is by eating a nutrient dense diet, which coincidentally will also keep you fuller for longer. Eat meats, organ meats, fruits, vegetables, fish, fats and eggs and as a result you'll be getting more magnesium, zinc, iron, calcium, amino acids, omega 3 fatty acid, CoQ10, creatine, tryptophan, lutein… you name it. And all these things will help you to perform optimally.
We've already talked about how you should design your lifestyle to support a training program, so the last task here is to come up with that training program. Pick something that will be actually fun and rewarding to do and you will find it's that much easier to stick to.