Your home plays about as many roles as you do. It isn’t just a place for you to go to sleep at night. Its a place to express yourself through cooking, decorating, or crazy dancing with the curtains drawn so none of your neighbors can see. Its a place to relax by watching your favorite guilty pleasures on television, reading a good book, or soaking in a bubble bath with a glass of wine. Its a place to gather friends, family, and memories. In addition, if you’re like millions of Americans, its also an office.
According to a Women in Business article by Kara Aragona, in 2010, 2.8 million Americans were working from home the majority of the time – that number doesn’t even include self-employed individuals or those who only work form home occasionally. That number is expected to explode in the upcoming years. The question is, when you work from home, how do you successfully separate business and pleasure? Successfully separating business and pleasure is a physical and mental process. Here are 5 tips that will help you continue to enjoy your home when it’s also your place of business.
1.) Define a separate space. When you work from home you must have a set space that will serve as your office. Ideally, this would be a room dedicated to the task; however, for a lot of individuals, that extra space simply isn’t available. If you don’t have a room that can be used as an office, get creative. See if you can fit a desk in a nook, part of another room (ex. your bedroom), or an unused closet. If none of those options work, assuming you have a laptop, create yourself a mobile office. Get a desk, office chair, and filing cabinet that either come equipped with casters or can have casters added. Then wheel your desk into the dinning room, living room, etc. each day and get to work. At the end of the day you can push all your stuff into a corner and compact it as much as possible (ex. the filing cabinet can be slid underneath the desk). While this option is a little less convenient than others, it does solve the problem. 2.) Define a schedule. When you work form home you must create a schedule for yourself. Decide what hours you’ll be working and be consistent. Let others know what your hours are so that colleagues and clients will know when they can reach you and (hopefully) there will be less interruptions from friends and family members. Keep in mind that his goes both ways. When you’re at work, you’re at work and need to limit personal interruptions. However, when you’re off the clock, unless its an emergency, try to focus on your “home” life. 3.) Treat work time like you’re at the office. To keep your home and work life separate, you have to treat your work time like you would if you were at the office. This means, don’t work from your bed or couch. In addition, get dressed – don’t sit around in your pajamas all day. Focus on the tasks at hand; don’t watch television or spend time chatting on the phone with your college buddies. A good rule of thumb is that if you wouldn’t do it at the office, don’t do it when working from home. 4.) Get organized. Do whatever it takes to keep yourself organized. Create a to-do list each day and check items off as you finish them. Don’t mix your personal records with business documents – have separate filing cabinets or at the very list, separate drawers. Don’t use limited space as an excuse to be disorganized. There are plenty of organization tools that can be attached to walls so go vertical if you need to. Browse sites like http://www.containerstore.com to get inspired. 5.) Accept your limitations. Not everyone is cut out to work from home. For whatever reason, if you can’t keep business and pleasure separate and as a result, both aspects of your life are suffering you need to be honest about that. You need to be honest with yourself, your family, and your employer. Don’t make things worse by continuing to do something that simply isn’t working. By talking to your friends, family, colleagues, and supervisor you may be able to come up with something that will work. For instance, perhaps your family didn’t realize that they were constantly interrupting you during work hours; having an open and honest talk about that can show them how serious the situation is. By talking to your colleagues and supervisor you may be able to determine new tips and tricks to make things work out. There are a lot of options available to you – you just have to be honest and ask for help when you need it.
Aragona, K. (2010). How Many Americans Work From Home? Retrieved from: http://womeninbusiness.about.com/od/wibtrendsandstatistics/a/number-of-people-working-from-home.htm