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Be Firm With Your Boundaries!

by Fran
(Seattle)

The hardest part of working at home for me has not been my schedule or commitment because I find that my work ethic is as strong at home as it was in the work place, at times I think it is even stronger since I am answering to myself. I took a while to think about how I wanted my day to run and what things I would allow to interrupt me and then set my schedule.

I like the freedom of having time in the morning to see everyone off to school and work and then taking a cup of coffee to the computer to begin working. I love being here when the kids get home from school and seeing them set up to do homework. I also love having the time to interrupt my schedule to start dinner.

My main problem, at least for the first few months, was to get my friends and family to take my schedule seriously. Or at least as seriously as I was taking it!

The phone rang so much I finally had to start screening calls so I could get work done and I had to stop answering the door when friends would "drop by" for coffee or to ask me to babysit for a few minutes. It took a lot of determination on my part and a lot of hard feelings among friends and family before everyone finally understood that I was working and not just hanging out playing on the computer when I was at home.

Some people have trouble with these boundaries because they allow all sorts of interruptions at work and so they really need to understand that working at home does not mean you want to put in 18 hour days so you can be available for long phone calls or visits.

I love working at home and the freedom it gives me to set my own hours. And, yes, there are times when I am working into the night as the family sleeps because I find that I am a night owl and can often get some of my best work done then.

My family and friends have learned to respect my firm "I can't talk now; I'm working" and are not hurt when I say this to them.

Set your boundaries and stick to them and you should have no trouble working from your home.

Lisa's Note


Fran, when I read your post, I felt like you had peeked into my own life.

I love working from home, and I love the work I do, so self discipline isn't a big problem for me. However, when I started working from home, I really had to "train" certain people to respect my time.

I set up specific work days and hours and arranged child care on those days because I have young kids at home.

In spite of all that planning, I actually had a friend who made a habit of calling me on one of my work mornings. At one point, she told me that she purposely called me at that time because she knew it was my work time and, therefore, she knew I would be home. Ugh!

I explained to her why I couldn't take social calls during work hours, and I have since learned to screen my calls during work hours (I have the type of business that allows for that).

When you work from home, you really do have to set boundaries with people, and you have to be prepared to reinforce them over and over until people finally understand that although you are at home, you are working and not available to socialize or run errands for others.

I still have issues with certain people not respecting my work hours from time to time, but for the most part, the people who I deal with on a regular basis now know that I am serious about being productive during my work hours.

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