When one works from home, it is all too easy to get overly consumed by it, which is a sure-shot way of making your family feel neglected and unhappy. Similarly, it is all too easy to lose yourself in household chores and other distractions, and not really get any work achieved at all. To avoid both these situations, it is crucial that a work-from-home entrepreneur maintain a healthy balance between work and home life. It is essential to set up healthy boundaries between these two areas.
SupportBiz lists nine things that a work-from-home entrepreneur should do to establish such healthy boundaries.
Set up office hours.
Set up work hours for yourself, which you will follow on a daily basis. Ensure that you begin and end work at fixed hours every day, as far as possible. This will help you maintain your focus, avoid distractions, and improve your productivity. It will also help you dedicate an equal amount of your time and energy to your work and family.
Establish ‘Do not disturb’ signs.
Establish signs that let your family and friends know that you are busy at work, and should not be disturbed. You do not really have to put up a ‘Do not disturb’ board on your door; you just need to communicate this to them using various means, on a regular basis. The easiest sign of this all is a closed door – when you are working behind a closed door, let it indicate that you are held up and not to be disturbed.
Have a separate work space.
Set up a separate zone within your house, where you can work peacefully and without distractions. Use only this zone to work regularly, and let your family know of the same.
Contain your work to your work zone.
Be aware of the disturbances that your work brings to your family, for instance a desk cluttered with paperwork or a phone that rings constantly. Ensure that you keep such disturbances confined to your work zone, and do not let them enter the other space in your house. Try to contain all your work frustrations, too, within this zone, and do not carry them with you outside it.
Make a list of activities that are not allowed.
Make a list of all the personal activities that you should not be doing while you are working. (For instance, watching TV, talking to friends, cooking, cleaning up or playing with your children.) Similarly, make a list of all the work-related chores that you should not do while you are with your family. (For instance, replying to e-mails, talking to clients or returning calls.) Ensure that you stick to these lists as far as possible.
Arrange your work schedule around your family.
When you are a work-from-home entrepreneur, it is a good idea to arrange your work schedule around your family. Use the time when your spouse or children are not at home, or are napping, to work. Figure out the times of day when your children are best behaved or are content to play independently, and get a major chunk of your work done during this time.
Use password protection.
Protect your work and important work-related documents on your home computer using password. This is especially necessary if your spouse and children use the same computer that you work on, to keep your work secure.
Make a to-do list.
Prepare a list of all the household and work tasks that you will do every day, and prioritise them. Do not overwhelm yourself by trying to do too much on one day, but concentrate only on doing the tasks on priority. Do them well, and leave the rest for the next day.
Use noise barriers.
Working from home makes you prone to distractions due to noise made by your family. A shut door is quite effective to drown out such noise. Other than that, you could use other things like earplugs and soundproof glass to keep your work zone insulated from noise. Alternatively, you could also play some light music in your work space, to keep out background noise and help you focus on the tasks at hand.