So you’ve decided to take the plunge and start your own business. You’ve got stars in your eyes and grand visions of working in your jeans, having the time and flexibility to “do lunch” with friends and pick up the kids each day from school.

The reality, however, often can be quite different. Many people find they’ve left a harsh manager at their old day job only to be working for an even harsher one— themselves! There comes a point in each new entrepreneur’s life when they question their own sanity as they struggle with blurring boundaries between home and life.

You can achieve balance by managing your time in a way that is flexible and practical yet allows you to be productive and generate vital cash flow. These six simple steps will help you keep your sanity while you start your own business or consultancy:

If you are working from home it is vital that you create a separate and distinct work area that will allow you to work uninterrupted. For example, converting the corner of your lounge room, one side of the garage or a bedroom may be necessary to create your office space. As you grow your business your need for space and clearly defined work-hour boundaries also will grow.

A supportive work space should also include beauty. Candles, favorite artwork or pictures, a bowl of fresh flowers or music are all part of developing an ambience that allows you to perform at your best.

Just as you may have used a calendar when working in the corporate world to schedule your time and account for your activities, so, too, can you allocate your time when self-employed. The best way to assist your unconscious mind to snap into effective mode is to clearly define work habits and patterns.

For example, plan your start time, workouts and meal breaks for the same time each day. Schedule regular sessions for strategic thinking, planning, researching and training. Batch all of your time together for administrative chores such as invoicing, responding to inquiries and sending out thank-you cards. This will stop you from falling into the trap of jumping from task to task and feeling as if you haven’t achieved anything at the end of the day.

One of the best ways to leverage your time when working for yourself is to use technology to your advantage. Although you can’t beat face-to-face communication, reserve it only for the most important clients and prospect meetings. For all other times use phone, fax, e-mail or teleconferencing to keep in touch in the quickest and most efficient way possible. If you carry a PDA, use it to keep in touch with urgent e-mail and appointments when traveling or out of the office. Treat your business as a business, not a hobby, and make sure that you install separate business phone, fax and Internet lines. The days of the home phone/fax are over.

Friends and family may assume you suddenly are available and accessible now that you work for yourself. A good idea is to call a family meeting and openly discuss how your business will affect everyone. Sometimes those closest to us are the ones who most need boundaries defined. If you still find that you struggle with this, you may want to work one day a week outside of the office, where you can’t be disturbed as easily.

Possibly the hardest but most valuable step you can take to keep your sanity as you start your own business is to hire help for your lowest-paid activities. Hiring a bookkeeper, virtual assistant or housekeeper to undertake these activities frees you up to do the higher-paid tasks that you went into business to do.

Working for yourself has many rewards and benefits if you form good habits in the beginning and set yourself up for success.

Author's Bio: 

Coach, author, speaker, teacher and entrepreneur, Heidi Alexandra Pollard, The Communicators’ Coach publishes Value Ad, a free monthly ezine for smart, savvy professionals who want more prosperity, passion and purpose in life. If you’re ready to jump start your success, make more money and have more fun doing it then get your FREE tips now at © Leading Value 2010.