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It is easy for the lines to become blurred between work and home life when both occur under the same roof. For your sanity and your family’s happiness, draw the line and resist crossing it. Learn to set boundaries for yourself when working from home.
In a perfect world, it would be wonderful if working from home would get the respect that it deserves. Instead, there are the misconceptions that just tweak you off every time you hear them. Here are just a few:
- Spouses that expect you to cook and clean because you are physically in the home even though you are actually working a business. So you might here things like “what do you do all day” when they know very much what you do or “well I work all day”.
- Friends joke that you are “living the life of Reilly” because you get to lounge around all day in your sweatpants.
- Kids don’t respect the closed door or the “office hours” and run in and out of the office constantly because you are accessible to them when you work from home.
- Teachers look at you sideways because you are not always volunteering in the classroom since “you have so much time on your hands”.
It’s hard, but manageable if you can follow these simple steps for setting boundaries for your home business:
- Dress for work – Get up just like the rest of your family and get dressed as you would for the office. This lets them know that you are in work mode.
- Keep a calendar of family and business events – Everyone needs to add their activities to this calendar. Avoid scheduling family stuff during designated business hours and vice versa. If it looks like you are free when you are not, explain that it is work time.
- Set the stage for work – Hang a sign on your door to let others know that you are busy. This sends a clear message to those who can read. For younger children, instruct sitters and older family members to handle anything that doesn’t involve threat of imminent death when you are in “Do Not Disturb” mode.
- Be flexible – How many times have we heard this? Moms are multi-taskers of the first order. When it is important to complete a project or talk to a client, try to do so when the house is quiet. You are fighting a losing battle at 5 pm but may have a ghost of a chance to get crucial business done at 5 am. Work around your family so that they don’t feel slighted and neither does your business. But there are times when you can ask for the assistance of your family, to make them feel included whether it’s stuffing envelopes or filling boxes, it’s more cost-effective to use them then to outsource certain tasks.
From the very beginning, drawing the boundary lines is crucial. Everyone will know your expectations and will understand the validity of what you do and how important it is. Good communication is the key here.