When I was younger (I say that as though I’m older than 31), I used to dream about being my own boss. I thought it would be oh-so-glamorous, I could set my own hours, work just a little, and then spend the rest of the day doing whatever I wanted. No hard work, right?
I didn’t know I was part of the problem. “What problem” you ask?
I was simply ignorant of the real work that goes with owning your own business. The taxes, the extra, long hours, the slow growth, the disappointment that inevitably comes. Unless you’ve really worked from home, whether it be full time or a side hustle, you just don’t know what its really like.
In a perfect world, working from home would get the respect that it deserves. Instead, there are so many misconceptions people have. Spouses that expect you to cook and clean because you are physically in the home even though you are actually working a business. Friends joke that you are living the life of luxury because you get to lounge around all day in your pjs. Kids don’t respect the closed door and run in and out of the office constantly. Teachers look at you sideways because you are not always volunteering in the classroom since you have so much time on your hands.
The solution? You need boundaries! (And stick to them! This is your business!)
Setting Boundaries for Your Home Business
From the very beginning, drawing the boundary line is crucial. Everyone will know your expectations and will understand the validity of what you do and how important it is. Good communication is the key here.
Here are some tips for drawing those lines:
Dress for work. Get up just like the rest of your family and get dressed as you would for the office. This lets them know that you are in work mode, and sets the tone for the day. I find that I am WAY more productive when I'm dressed for the part too, rather than sitting in something schlumpy. I feel like there is a reason I dressed up and I need to make it pay off.
Keep a calendar of family and business events. Everyone needs to add their activities to this calendar. Avoid scheduling family stuff during designated business hours and vice versa. If it looks like you are free when you are not, explain that it is work time, and it will need to wait until after.
Set the stage for work. Hang a sign on your door to let others know that you are busy. This sends a clear message to those who can read. For younger children, instruct sitters and older family members to handle anything that doesnít involve threat of imminent death when you are in “Do Not Disturb” mode. You could try putting a clock sign on your closed with the time you will be done, or use a system of red, yellow and green cards on the door. Red could mean “do not even think of knocking unless someone is dying or there is a fire.” Yellow could be “please knock and give me a moment to finish something before I say to come in.” Green could be “come on in!”
Be flexible. This might sound like it goes against what I just said, but this is part of the benefit of working from home. When it is important to complete a project or talk to a client, try to do so when the house is quiet. You are fighting a losing battle at 5 pm but may have a chance to get crucial business done at 5 am. Work around your family so that they donít feel slighted and neither does your business. It doesn’t have to happen every day, but when you’ve got a deadline approaching or something that just HAS to get done uninterrupted, its a great solution.
As for me, I’m still sitting here wishing I could work in my pjs.