Work-Life Balance as an Online Retailer

Young man shown doing multiple tasks in home office

Working from home can help you cut down on distractions, but it can also make it difficult to find the right work-life balance.

When you work a conventional 9 to 5 job, you know that your work is supposed to stop when you commute home in the evening. There are clear boundaries between your personal life and your professional life because they take place in two distinct spaces. But when you start working from home as an online retailer, all that changes. Suddenly your personal and professional lives are much closer together, and it can be hard to know when to draw the line and stop work for the day—or when to get started when you’ve got chores, kids, and other distractions on your mind.

Finding a healthy work-life balance can be especially tricky when you’re first starting out as an online retailer, so we here at SheepBuy have put together a few tips to help you manage.

Set a schedule—and stick to it. If you don’t set yourself a schedule, you’ll most likely either a.) get distracted and not put enough time into your online business or b.) spend way too much time working on your online business to the detriment of your personal life. By setting a schedule, you’re telling yourself when to get started and also giving yourself permission to stop. Of course, you don’t necessarily need to work from 9 to 5, and you can always rearrange your schedule on days when you have things like a doctor’s appointment or a kid’s soccer game. The beauty of being self-employed is that you can come up with the schedule that works best for you.

Let family and friends know when you’re working. Sometimes it’s hard for friends and family members to recognize that you’re working when you’re at home, especially if you’ve only recently become an online entrepreneur. Be polite, but firmly let friends and family know when you’re working and when you’ll be free so that they won’t interrupt you at inconvenient times.

Create a designated workspace. Sure, working at the kitchen table might seem fine at first, but what happens when the kids come in after school or the neighbor starts sawing down tree branches right outside your window? Some online retailers are fortunate to have a room in their home that they can convert into a designated home office, but even if you don’t have this space you can still partition off an area in another room of your house or look into renting a co-working space.

Know that you don’t always need to be on call. Good customer service is important when you run an online retail business, but if a customer emails you a comment or question right before you’re going to bed, it’s okay to wait until the morning to respond. As long as you politely respond to customers within 24 hours, they should understand that as a solo entrepreneur, you can’t constantly be on call.

Learn to recognize when you need a break. A lot of people who switch from an office job to a work-from-home job find that they were actually more likely to take breaks at their office job because there were co-workers to talk to and other distractions. When you’re sitting in your own home office, it’s a lot easier to get into the zone—but also a lot harder to recognize when you need a break. If you’re having trouble stopping work once you get started, schedule short breaks for lunch, walking around the block, or even just standing up and stretching.