Boundaries

When working from home how do you draw the line between your professional life and your personal life?

I’ve been working from a home office for 12 years now and it’s a constant battle to maintain focus and motivation when there’s nobody looking over your shoulder.  There’s nobody to commiserate with or share a few moments of idle chat for distraction. I do have clients that stop by to deliver paperwork and pick up checks throughout the day but it’s often a quick interaction.

It helps to have an availability schedule and be firm with it.  Give yourself the freedom not to answer client calls after hours or on weekends.  Yes, it is difficult NOT to pick up a client call after hours . . . I mean, you LIVE there – they know you are home.  It just feels rude not to pick up.  I am still struggling to adjust my habits, and making the transition is sometimes frustrating on both ends as people become creatures of habit.  Sometimes a 2nd phone line helps – although in my situation I eventually went back to one phone.  Had the business line been a landline in my office it would have worked for me not answering – but my clients and I have embraced text messaging for quick contact and questions and I wasn’t going to sacrifice that.

I eventually reduced my available hours significantly to give me the flexibility to work when I want to or feel like it.  I had been operating with regular hours (Mon-Friday 8am-4pm) but often found my mind distracted during work hours then super focused when I continued working after hours.  This meant I was in my office ALL of the time . . . and after a few years of this I was very burnt out.  Now I’m only “open” 12 hours per week for customers to stop by or expect me to pick up the phone.  It’s strange, but even now I still find myself terribly unfocused during those twelve hours.  The moment I lock my door and silence my phone it’s like a switch is flicked.  I am sure I’m just completely distracted by the thought of “who could stop by and why” while the door is open.  Anti-social much?  Sad, but true.

Author: bforberg

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