And Never The Twain Should Meet
© 2013 Elena Fawkner
For many people, working from home sounds like an ideal
arrangement. You don't have to waste time commuting to and
from the office, you can be there for your children when
they come home from school, you don't have to answer to
anyone but yourself and you can work the hours that suit you
... not your boss. All very well in theory.
On the other side of the coin, though, are the challenges of
working from home. "Working your own hours" all too easily
can become "working all hours" if you don't set a workday
schedule, while rowdy children can become an almighty
challenge when you need to present a professional image to
the prospective client you're speaking with on the
The fundamental key to a successful transition to a home-
based business is to keep your business and personal lives
as separate as possible. Decide up front how many (and
which) hours of the day you are going to allocate to your
business and stick to this schedule. What you don't get
done during today's business hours can and should wait until
tomorrow. Don't succumb to the temptation of allowing your
business to encroach on your personal and family time.
One trick to keep your business and personal lives separate
is to have separate areas of the house for each. If at all
possible, allocate a room of your house or apartment
exclusively as your business office. Make sure that all
members of your family understand that when you are in that
room, you are working and are not available except in an
emergency. Likewise, don't use that room for any non-work
activity such as a TV room.
By strictly separating areas in this way, you will
reinforce in your mind (and the minds of other family members)
that your office is a place of business and is to be
treated as such. Just as your family will learn to respect
these boundaries, it will also help you to "switch off" at
the end of your work day if you can literally shut the door
of your office and return "home" to your family.
One temptation that, if indulged, will blur the line between
your business and personal lives, is attending to non-
business tasks during the hours you have allocated to
business. Avoid leaving your office to run a load of
laundry, unload the dishwasher, clean the bathroom or
organize the kitchen cabinets ... any of the myriad of things
that can assume an almost overwhelming urgency in the face of
that business task you are putting off starting. These
sorts of distractions will only serve to keep you in your
office much longer than necessary.
Another important tip for keeping your two worlds separate
is to have separate business telephone, modem and fax lines.
Do NOT allow your children to answer your business phone.
Arrange for an answering service to take your business calls
during your non-business hours. Similarly, when you are
working, try to ensure your children are otherwise occupied
when you make business calls. The last thing you need when
trying to convince that prospective new client that you
should win his account is a screaming five year old right next
If you have very young children, hire a sitter for the times
of the day or week when you know you will be conducting
business on the telephone. If you have older children,
deputize one or more of them to occupy younger siblings.
You might want to pay your 'deputy' for this service as a way
for him or her to earn some income or pocket money. The
money you spend on sitting services will be more than
outweighed by the professional image you will be able to
project to prospective and existing clients and customers.
As important as it is to choose for your business something
you love to do, don't allow your business to take you away
from your family. After all, your family was likely one of
the primary reasons you decided to work from home in the
It is one thing to be present physically. It is quite
another to be present mentally and emotionally. The more
rounded you are as a person, the more you bring to the table
... both personally and professionally. The enjoyable
activities you engage in in your non-business hours can
energize your business life. So, instead of thinking about
the work you could be doing on Sunday when you're at the beach
with your spouse, think of the fun you have on that day as
an investment in your business for the coming week.
Give 100% of yourself to work during the time allocated to
work. Then shut the door on it. Your family deserves 100%
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Tuesday, 23-May-2017 21:19:12 CDT