I don’t care who tells you what. Working from home isn’t easier than working at an office.
At the office, you can signal people that you’re working and they won’t interrupt you. At the office, at the end of the day, you can close up your laptop and walk away (ok, that’s in theory). I am partially kidding with these examples.
I have worked at jobs where I was required to log in to work in the evening. I’ve had friends who have conference calls at 930pm at night. One friend has to get up at 315am because she has to drive 45 minutes to be at a worksite and the work starts at 430 (she’s a drywall contractor). You don’t have to be white-collar to change careers and work from home.
The bottom line is for both working at home and outside the home, you have to firmly set boundaries in order to get done what needs to be done.
It’s Not Easy
Often, you’ll have friends who call or drop by because you’re “not doing anything.” And they know you’re home so you can’t pretend by not answering the door. You’ll have to do something difficult and set boundaries. Let them know that they need to call before dropping by. Let them know you have certain work hours where you’re working, just like if you were at a job. Because you do have a job.
Actually, you have more than a job. You have a business. A common mistake people make is treating their business like a job. That’s the fastest way to get into debt and lose your mind.
Why Are You Doing This
Whenever you have someone asking you to volunteer at the school or sneak off for lunch or shopping, before you answer, reflect on why you’re doing this. If you go out to do something now, will that mean you have to push to get things done later in the afternoon when you’d rather be helping your kids with homework or cooking dinner?
(I like cooking, so it’s a reward for me after the end of a busy day)
That helps make it easier to say “no” to the things that aren’t getting you closer to your dream.
I set up my own business to be more available to my daughter. As I’ve mentioned, she was diagnosed as delayed language and needed additional help over the years. By working for myself, I could shuttle her around. But that meant I couldn’t go out to lunch as often as some people would like.
And I still have that problem. I’m not perfect. I have problems saying no to my stepmom when she wants to go out and I have to write a newsletter for a client. I rationalize that I can write the newsletter faster than I really can. Don’t fall into that trap.
Well, You Probably Will….
I don’t want to be negative. The truth is we don’t always realize what’s happening until it’s over. Ever been engaged or dating the wrong guy? Then you wake up one morning and go “Whoops.” Well, that can happen if you end up at the end of the week and not enough was done and you go “Whoops.” At least saying Yes too much is like a few bad dates. It’s easier to start to say No more often.
And don’t forget to block out sections of time in a calendar. When someone calls or messages you, stall for time and say you’ll look at your calendar. Then say “Thanks for thinking of me. Today won’t work. How about next Thursday?”
Or if it’s something you don’t ever want to do, thank them for thinking of you and you won’t be able to help them.
My husband is always trying to teach me to say No without any excuses. He says it’s more polite and keeps the door closed to negotiation. Let’s be honest. Have you ever bought a car? What does the sales associate always try and do. Get you to give a reason. And when you do, he counters it.
“I don’t really like the color.”
“If I can get you that car in a different shade, will you buy today?”
Then you’re stuck.
“I have to finish up this project.”
“If I put you on this smaller task that won’t take more than an hour a week, can I sign you up?”
Don’t let yourself get backed into a corner.
Another good resource is Dr. Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Read the chapter on putting first things first. He gives a lot of good examples of how his wife Sandra doesn’t get overcommitted.
Bottom line, don’t think things will be easier than when you went to a job. You will have to juggle a lot of expectations. Treat yourself like a business owner. And learn how to say no and feel comfortable with it. You got this.