©2002 Elena Fawkner
For many people, working from home sounds like an ideal
arrangement. You don't have to waste time commuting to
and from the office, you can be home for your children
when they come home from school, you don't have to
answer to anyone but yourself and you can work the hours
that suit YOU, not your boss. All very well in theory.
On the other side of the coin, though, are the challenges
of working from home. Working your own hours all too often
means working all hours if you don't set a workday schedule,
while rowdy children can become an almighty challenge
when you need to present a professional image to the
prospective client you're speaking with on the telephone.
The fundamental key to a successful transition to a home-
based business is to keep your business and personal lives
as separate as possible. Decide up front how many (and
which) hours of the day you're going to allocate to your
business and stick to this schedule. What you don't get
done during today's business hours can and should wait
until tomorrow. Don't succumb to the temptation of allowing
your business to encroach on your personal and family time.
One effective way to keep your business and personal lives
separate is to have separate areas of the house for each. If
at all possible, allocate a room of your house or apartment
exclusively as your business office. Make sure that all
members of your family understand that when you're in that
room, you're working and not available except in an
emergency. Likewise, don't use that room for any non-work
activity such as a TV room (this is also an important point
if you intend to claim your home office as a tax deduction).
By strictly separating areas in this way, you'll reinforce in
your mind (and the minds of other family members) that
your office is a place of business and is to be treated as
such. Just as your family will learn to respect these boundaries,
it will also help you to "switch off" at the end of your work
day if you can literally shut the door of your office and return
"home" to your family.
There is one temptation that, if indulged, can easily blur the
line between your business and personal lives. That's
attending to non-business tasks during the hours you have
allocated to business. Avoid leaving your office to run a load
of laundry, unload the dishwasher, clean the bathroom or
organize the kitchen cabinets ... any of the myriad of things
that can assume an almost overwhelming urgency in the face
of that business task you're putting off starting. These sorts
of distractions will only serve to keep you in your office much
longer than necessary.
Another important tip for keeping your two worlds separate
is to have separate business telephone, modem and fax lines.
Do NOT allow your children to answer your business phone.
You may think it's adorable but trust me, it isn't. It's
annoying. Arrange for a voicemail service to take your
business calls during your non-business hours. Similarly, when
you're working, try to ensure your children are otherwise
occupied when you make business calls. The last thing you
need when trying to convince that prospective new client
that you should win his account is a screaming five year old
right next to you.
If you have very young children, hire a sitter for the times
of the day or week when you know you'll be conducting
business on the telephone. If you have older children,
deputize one or more of them to occupy younger siblings.
You might want to pay your 'deputy' for this service as a
way for him or her to earn some income or pocket money.
The money you spend on sitting services will be more than
offset by the new business you'll win as a result of the
professional image you will be able to project to prospective
and existing clients and customers.
As important as it is to choose for your business something
you love to do, don't allow your business to take you away
from your family. After all, your family was likely one of
the primary reasons you decided to work from home in the
It is one thing to be present physically. It is quite another
to be present mentally and emotionally. The more rounded
you are as a person, the more you bring to the table both
personally and professionally. The enjoyable activities you
engage in in your non-business hours can energize your
business life. So, instead of thinking about the work you
could be doing on Sunday when you're at the beach, think
of the fun you have on that day as an investment in your
business for the coming week.
Give 100% of yourself to work during the time allocated to
work. Then shut the door on it. Your family deserves 100%
Elena Fawkner is editor of A Home-Based Business Online ...
practical business ideas, opportunities and solutions for the
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