Maybe “mastered” is a little bold, but I do have years of experience working from home and have fumbled my way to relative success. The challenges of working from home are different for everyone, but here are three of the biggest challenges I’ve faced and the solutions that have worked for me.
Challenge #1: Kids
As a parent, it goes without saying that you love your children. But as much as we love our kids and love being parents, work and kids do not go hand-in-hand. Your kids may have been a factor in your decision to work from home, but that doesn’t necessarily make juggling work and kids any easier.
If you have young children, like I do, you don’t have the benefit of having school hours to buckle down and focus on work. This means you are splitting your time between the kids and work during the day, getting up early and staying up late to work, working weekends, or calling in reinforcements (family, nanny, babysitter, daycare) to help out with the kids.
I’ve done all of those things listed above and after facing severe burnout from lack of sleep and working through every weekend to try to stay caught up, I discovered that the best solution for me (and the kids) was setting up childcare outside the house a few days a week. This gives me the dedicated work time I need to run my business, and it gives the kids a break from me and some socialization time with other children their age. When they are home, I have less work to do so my time with them is more focused and attentive. And there’s a lot less stress.
Challenge #2: Isolation
Let’s face it, working from home can be lonely. You don’t have coworkers sitting down the hall who you can chat with during the day, and you may not get out to do much face-to-face networking. Add to that being an introvert, like I am, and forget it…you’re on your own!
For me the solution for this has been my regular calls with clients, scheduling some time during the day to run errands, and forming relationships with colleagues online. While I use many social media outlets for business, I have also had the amazing benefit of forming personal relationships with some great people I connected with online, which has been invaluable to me.
Challenge #3: Unplugging
Because I love what I do, I face a challenge I suspect many of us who work from home face – the inability to shut down, turn off and put away work at the end of the day. This can be a good and a bad thing. Good, because you get more done and are able to stay on top of everything. Bad, because we all need time away from work. And if you frequently work on the weekends, too, you may be in desperate need of a break.
My solution for this, and I admit it is an ongoing area of improvement for me, is trying to plan time that is work-free — when my kids are home, for some weekend hours and in the evening. I can always jump back into the loop with my BlackBerry, but I’m learning not to be tethered to my laptop and incoming messages. This gives me some much needed down-time and makes my dedicated work time much more productive and efficient.
The bottom line is that I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do in business from my home on my own time. And I wouldn’t change my situation for anything, even if I frequently have to troubleshoot solutions for challenges that arise. Your challenges may be different from mine and what others face, but the key is finding solutions that work for you.
What are your biggest challenges of working from home? What solutions have helped you?
Image credit: Jeremy Doorten