Working From Home: Myths vs. Reality
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Melody, a Career Counselor at Capella University recently started working remotely. She answers some of the most common questions about what it is like to work from home and addresses many of the popular myths.
Many people envy the entrepreneurs that work at home. But often they become consumed with the business because the office is too convenient. It becomes difficult to separate home and work. Getting balance back in your life might be as easy as applying some suggestions that will help establish some positive habits.
When people hear I am a home-based business owner, their first comment is usually a funny remark about working in my pink fuzzy slippers (actually, theyre purple). I must confess, many winter days would find this to be a true statement. Coming from the corporate environment, there has been a drastic change in my wardrobe.
The clothing, though, is the least of the issues. I asked fellow entrepreneurs what they found to be the biggest hurdle for them as home-based business owners. Many stated that their business seemed to consume them because work and home were one and the same. They lack the discipline to keep the two separate.
Every waking moment at home is spent in their office pounding the keyboard. If they do leave the office, they find themselves constantly stopping in to check emails or remembering they needed to do just one more task. Then 2 hours later, they are still working. Often, attention to the family, friends and the house suffer. Whether its a lack of discipline to stop working or a compulsion to continue to focus on the business, it doesnt matter. What does matter is that relationships with family members and friends suffer, social life suffers, the upkeep of the house suffers and ultimately health becomes a factor. So what can someone do when they find the dishes piling up, the laundry isnt done, the grass is now 10 inches long, they cant remember the last time they had a family meal together and they still cant walk away from the business?
The first step is to admit its a problem. I would venture to guess that your spouse and other family members have already discussed this with you. Take an eyes-wide-open look at your daily routine and ask if this is absolutely how you want to spend the rest of your life. Sometimes just being honestly aware is enough to create the discipline needed to stop spending so much time in the office.
Give a true assessment of your work habits. Are you really being productive, or just doing busy work? Are there things that you can stop doing that wont affect your customer service? Is there something you can reduce or eliminate that wont affect the quality of your work? Can you outsource some of the daily routine?
If you had even a few hours a day away from the office, think of the things you could do instead. Spending time with family members, friends or even business associates on a social level would begin mending and creating life-long relationships. Start a hobby that helps you relax. Read a book, watch a movie or go out to dinner on a regular basis. Create a daily routine of walking or working out. Have you always wanted to have a beautiful lawn? Now might be the perfect time to focus on your landscaping. Decide what you want to do, then begin doing it, even if you need to schedule it. Without filling in the hours you just freed up being in the office, youll just fall back into the old habit of continually working.
If all of this still isnt enough to get you out of the office, create some physical barriers for yourself. If you find youre stopping in to check emails every time you walk by the office door, there are a few things you can do to eliminate this. First, just close the door; lock it if necessary and put the key on the opposite side of the house. Even if you have the key, you still have to make the effort to get the key and unlock the door. Put a sign on the door announcing (to yourself) your office hours. Turn off your computer. When you think about turning it back on, it reminds you why its turned off! These seem simple, but they work!
Knowing you can serve each equally well (personal and work) will provide a sense of balance, plus youll probably be better at both of them. And youll be able to do it wearing your fuzzy slippers.