Friday, May 14, 2010

When Your Home is Also Your Office

When I was a teenager, my mom worked out of a home office. There were strict rules pertaining to Mom’s workday: She was not to be bothered unless the house was on fire or there were people at the door with balloons and a “ginormous” check from Publishers Clearing House. Mom laid down very clear ground rules, and she and Dad enforced them. Here are some tips to help you make working at home a home run:

• Create simple, workable ground rules. You are smart enough to figure these out. But do it, write them down, share them with the family, and tweak and repost as needed.
• Follow your own rules. If you’re leaving your office during your workday to check the kids or take care of family business, your family will figure you are available and those rules go out the window! Set boundaries, tell them what the exceptions are, and post them on the fridge.
• Quarantine thyself. Your office should be away from where family members congregate—I’m talking sacrosanct. This means your work space should not be located in the den, bedroom, kitchen, or man cave! Instead, have your office in a separate room with a door you can shut and lock.
If you ever meet with clients, it’s important, if at all possible, to have a separate entrance to your office. Think of it this way: How would you feel about visiting a professional at their “office” and having to trip over loads of laundry, be greeted by a wet dog, or see dirty dishes in the sink?
• Gussy up. Another rule my smart mother adhered to: Follow the same morning routine you would as if you were leaving the house to go to work. Get dressed for work. Put on makeup, brush your teeth, wear clothes appropriate for your profession. Set regular work hours and at the end of the day discuss your workday with your family to reinforce the fact that you are working from your office, which is now, after hours, known as home.
(Deb Neuman's article that appeared in

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