One of the great things about working from your own home is freedom. Freedom to start work when you want, wear what you want and work the hours that you want. Right? Well actually, probably not.
In reality working from home doesn’t work like that –- well not in my experience anyway. You usually end up working normal business hours plus a few more to boot (though you may still be in your PJs).
The main problem with working from home is everyone’s expectations.
- your expectations
- your family and friends expectations
- your clients’/ employer’s expectations
All these expectations create their own pressures that lead to longer working hours and a less than perfect work/life balance. To keep your working hours and sanity in order, these expectations need to be managed and managed carefully.
When you first start working from home you might think life is going to be all rosy — late starts, time to do all those things during the day you would not normally get time to do. Then, reality strikes: if you want to successfully work from home. You are going to have to work. Then, there are insidious extra pressures that come to bear. These are both real pressures and unseen self inflicted pressures:
I must be available to answer the phone at all times.
What if they think I’m not here and they think I’m off doing something else?
I must beat that deadline even though there is no way I can do it in time, (if I work a normal working week). If I don’t, they will think I’m slacking off.
I know it is late but I’ll just check my email. You know — just in case.
You will end up adding extra pressure to yourself, working longer hours and never getting away from your work. It is difficult to shut up shop and leave when you live there.
Your friends and family’s expectations
Since you are now working at home; can you just fix that cupboard.,
can give me a hand with this etc. If you already work from home and live with someone; you will know what I mean.
It is easy for other people to forget that you are actually working and not just mucking around on the computer. This can be confronting to friends and family, especially when you are not overjoyed when they interrupt you.
Your clients’ / employer’s expectations
Whether you work for yourself or another business–they expect to be able to contact you during normal work hours – which can be tricky, especially if they are not on the same continent as you.
The Three Golden Rules:
1. Set your working day hours and stick to them
Of course there will always be times when you will need to work longer hours to meet some deadline or other, but, for all other times – stick to the hours you set. Let your family and friends know that within those hours you would prefer not to be disturbed.
2. Delineate your office area
Hide/cover you work area when you are not working. It is important to be able to walk away from your work area and not feel the pressure to just go back and finish this or that. It maybe that you close the door on your home office or if you have a desk in one of your main rooms – cover it with a sheet at the end of the day to visually show you are not at work.
3. Keep your boss/client up to date on what you are doing
Check in with them regularly, whether this be by instant message, email, phone or whatever.
It is possible to have a work/life balance, it all boils down to communication and discipline. Let people know what you are trying to achieve and when you are trying to achieve it and have the discipline to follow the hours you set. TTFN.