“Working,” was the reply my self-employed friend said to her house guest who stood in her slippers and robe at the edge of my friend’s home office door.
Has this ever happened to you? Some well-intended friend or family member comes to stay with you mid-week and thinks that because they are on a mini-vaca you are too.
What about your significant other or those darling little people who you feed and clothe? They come bopping into your WWHQ as you work diligently on a client project or as you are just about to have a break through on a BIG writing project. Their requests are, “Hey babe, have you seen that thing I was working on last night?” Or from the smaller set, “…..I’m bored……” (Hey it’s the start of summer, I don’t have kids, but I see what happens to my cash flow coaching clients during our sessions).
Here’s the thing. We teach people how to treat us. We “go along to get along”. But this is your business, it’s how you make a living. If you worked for BIG Company X in your city and were working along in your cubicle, your house guests wouldn’t stop by in their bunny slippers, and your spouse and kids wouldn’t come tearing into your space in the middle of a phone call.
So, don’t let them do it when you work from home.
I believe in boundaries. Clear. Healthy. Boundaries. It’s up to you to set them.
If you are new to home office work, or have gotten a bit lax with your expectations, today is a new day and you can let everyone know your office policy. Here are a few of my favorites for ultimate effectiveness.
Unless there is blood, and a LOT of it, do not interrupt a phone call.
Create 10 minutes of “buffer time” between client calls or projects on your calendar. Let your family know that you’ll come out between commitments and can answer their questions, or open the lid on the peanut butter jar.
Schedule lunch with your family. You have to eat. Let them know you are stopping for lunch every day at 12:30 and will eat with them, play with them, talk and hang out with them for 45 minutes and then you are back to work. They just love ya and want to spend time with you. Let them know when that is. I schedule lunch with my hound everyday – he makes sure we have a hard stop at noon! I feed him, we take a short walk – maybe sit outside for a bit. It makes me more effective for my afternoon client work. He gets attention, and I get to stretch my legs. A win for everyone!
Let your family know your “hard stop” time. If you are done with your work at 5 – be DONE at 5. Kids are REALLY good at keeping you to this! In order to keep your hard stop commitment set an alarm on your phone 40 minutes before the end of your day. That will give you a few minutes to wrap up what you are working on, transition to the final phase of your day which should be replying to emails and planning for the next day. Then when 5 comes around, you won’t be saying to everyone in your house, “Hang on – I just have one more thing……”
Don’t accept overnight house guests during the week. May sound harsh, but here’s the thing. It’s going to mess with your schedule. If you are planning to take the time off anyhow – no worries. However, if your well-intended sister and her kids are going to stay for a week and use your home as the landing pad between adventures to the water park and museums while you work. Don’t do it. It will cause more frustration for you, your clients and your sister.
Summer is such an amazing time to connect with family and friends. Be intentional as to how you connect and don’t rob from your business to make it happen.
Debbie Page Whitlock is a business coach and leading authority on business cash flow for women entrepreneurs, and writes on all things related to creating sustainable, scalable and potentially salable businesses and other useful bits of business wisdom she’s acquired on her 20 year entrepreneurial odyssey.