Because working at home combines work with the rest of your life, it’s easy to get work, housework, and family life jumbled together, to the degree where you can’t accomplish your goals.
If the distractions of home and family life are getting in the way of reaching your work goals, then it’s time to lay out some disciplines.
Home Office Location
Where is your home office located? If it’s near your front door, family room, hallway, or kitchen it may be hard to keep your mind on work, with family members coming and going. Perhaps you could turn your basement into an office, such as the television character, Ray Barone of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” There Ray was able to churn out his sports column articles those days he worked at home. The most important thing about a home based office is to treat it like a business and make sure you have a plan.
Your office doesn’t necessarily have to be in a separate room. If you can find a quiet space, away from family life and household distractions, then that’s a good location to set up shop. However choose a permanent workplace and determine not to move to a different location just because you feel like working somewhere else on any given day.
Declutter Your Office
You may not have a boss looking over your shoulder, but you still need to keep your desk tidy, realising that neatness results in greater productivity. Purge your office of all outdated items, such as old mail, cards, etc. This will make room for current jobs that need to get done as soon as possible.
If your office area is cluttered with non-work related materials, chances are you’ll be distracted. Gather up all items that don’t pertain to your business and assign them to different locations in the rest of your house. If you’re limited in space and not able to move them out of the room, then get them away from your sight. Either set up a barrier so you won’t be sidetracked by their presence, or cover them up.
Setting Telephone Rules and Establishing Schedules
When you first start working at home, well meaning friends and family members may not respect your work hours when it comes to calling you. A good way to establish boundaries regarding calls is to explain, “I always love chatting with you. But because I’m working at home, I’d appreciate it if you would call after work hours.” If they still don’t respect your boundaries, then you’ll need to use your voice mail and/or answering machines.
Better yet, if your work at job doesn’t require answering the telephone, then it may be best to set up your office where you can’t even hear the phone. I’m sure many homeowners feel they made the right choice not to install another telephone line in a bedroom or newly refinished office basement. And, if you’re not expecting any important calls, you can always place your phone on the “ringer” mode where you don’t hear the phone.
As for housework, you need to set up a workable schedule for household chores. For example, have a set time you do laundry and shop. You may be working at home, but you still have to treat it as any other job outside the home, where work is your first priority.
Finally, don’t forget to shut the door on your office when work hours are over. It’s just as important to set aside time for relaxation and family, as it is to accomplish your work goals. Remember, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”