Thank you to our guest blogger Natalie McKee of Nursing Shoe Heaven for offering her insight into how to balance work and home life as an entrepreneur.

Maybe I’m the exception to the rule, but I never set out to become an entrepreneur. My virtual assistant business blossomed my freelance writing into a real career, but I didn’t do a good job of keeping a barrier between work and life when I started out. It was a challenge to balance work and home life as an entrepreneur.

I remember late one night telling my husband I needed to do “just one more thing” for a client before we went on a trip to Rome. We had to be up at 3 a.m. and he was cursing the laptop glow as I typed away.

“You need to say NO,” he told me.

At the time I was pregnant, but we were a young and free married couple and it seemed like work and life could intertwine at all moments and we’d be fine. Answering a client email during a dinner date? No big deal.

Then came baby, and I realized quickly that I needed to balance work and home life as an entrepreneur and as a wife and mother.

Set Work Hours

Obviously this is going to look different for a restaurant owner than it is for a full-time blogger, but the only way to create a divide between work and life is by devoting some hours of the day to each.

In my world, that means that unless I have a major deadline, I’m done working for the day when my husband comes home. I love having dinner as a family and enjoying those baby-free hours after the little one is in bed to be a couple together.

Because I’m also a stay-at-home-mom during the daytime, I try to limit my work to nap time and “independent play time.” Then I create times in the day that we get out of the house for a walk to the park, away from my laptop and the temptation to “just get this done.”

Turn Off Your Phone

Just typing this gives me a little anxiety, but do it. We have cell-phone-free dinners and when I go to the park I turn off my mobile data so I can’t get work emails.

After 7 p.m. I don’t respond to any correspondence that relates to work unless it’s a true emergency: I probably shouldn’t even read the emails, but I’m too impatient to wait until 5 a.m.! 

Ban Procrastination 

If you force yourself to work during set hours, you learn very quickly that you cannot procrastinate. You must get the work that must get done completed in the hours you have to work.

Think of your life when you worked 9-5: You probably had time to goof off a little, chit chat with coworkers, and sip your coffee while daydreaming.

You can’t do that as an entrepreneur who wants a healthy work/life balance. By banning procrastination, you stop wasting time so you have more to spend on your personal life. I dare you to actually track the hours you spend working with a program like Toggl.com — turn it off every time you check your phone, talk to an employee, or grab coffee. You’d be amazed by how much time you waste in a day!

These steps aren’t perfect: Some days work cuts into life because the baby didn’t nap well and I still need to get work done. Other times life cuts into work because of a family emergency. A plan is better than no plan when it comes time to balance work and home life as an entrepreneur.

Natalie McKee is a virtual assistant and social media manager  who works from home with her daughter. You can see some of her work at Nursing Shoe Heaven.