Working from a home office you might think it is easy to balance out work and family.
Think again! It’s hard work to make it happen and I have been trying and testing many methods since I started in 2008.
Working from home has its benefits; I can take a 15 minute break and throw in a load of laundry, walk the dogs or put supper in the oven – all things that help my family along. A big one for me is being able to help my kids when they need it – forgotten lunches, missed homework, school chaperones, drive to early hockey games … and more – if I can help I try to, as long as the kids respect my work time and continue to develop their responsibilities.
But there are also many challenges that come from having your office in your home. Overcoming these challenges usually comes down to planning and communicating. You need to make sure you can do your work, but have your family and friend time as well – in many cases that is why you have your office at your home.
What challenges could someone have working at home?
My biggest one is family – friend interruptions. Think about it, when you work in a large corporate office, friends would rarely drop in to chat or have a coffee. They also think twice about calling you during work, most things can wait. When you have a home office – that separation of work and home is not as clear to everyone.
Working from home means setting your boundaries for everyone, including yourself, and following them; achieving a good balance is possible if you know the limits and expectations. These boundaries will help you have the time with your family and friends that everyone needs to keep them in balance with life.
Here are 5 tips that will help keep you on track to balance your time along with work and family.
- Let everyone know your work hours and follow them. Post them on your office door and on your voice mail messages, this way everyone knows what to expect from you. Try not to make too many exceptions or you’ll find the “work hours” mean nothing.
- Use Caller ID to help you determine which calls should be answered during office hours. If it’s your kid’s school; you may want to pick it up, but if it’s Maxine, the neighbourhood gossip, let it go.
- Set a schedule for breaks and use them to refresh yourself. Whether it’s to make a quick phone call, do a quick chore, a few minutes of exercise; or read a chapter in a book. Getting out of your office will do wonders for your mental state!
- Keep work and family emails separate. If you are like me and keep in touch with people by email or facebook or you belong to volunteer organizations, make sure you have a separate email address you use for family and things not involving work. So many people communicate via email, the last thing you need is to miss a vital work-related email because you had missed it sorting thorough the hundreds of emails in the inbox. If your emails are unmanageable and keep you from doing your work, you may want to consider hiring a Virtual Assistant to do some email management for you.
- Set a schedule for your family. Without a schedule of some sorts – you may find it very hard to make that balance work. Make certain the boundaries are known by your family so they can respect when you work and you also respect that they want to spend time with you.