« A Knock On the Door | Main | A Two Year's Old Attitude »

How do you balance things... if your office is 3 feet from your kitchen?

I recently had a coaching client who was making the move from working in a corporate setting to working from home. 

She was excited about joining the growing number of biz people who are making the move to an office in the home.  But she was also a little concerned about balancing things. 

Feet_on_desk_2How about you? 

Have you made the switch? 

If so... let me ask you a question.

Has it become easier to balance work and life... or has it become harder?

There are pluses... sure. 

The commute from the bedroom to the office is measured in footsteps instead of miles.  You can do some laundry during coffee breaks.  You can even raid your own refrigerator instead of spending $8 at a local sandwich shop.

So... yes... some things might be easier.

But... is there a potential downside?  Sure.

Your computer can call to you at all hours of the day and night... beaconing you to check e-mail just one more time.  Studies have also shown that it's easier to feel isolated when your only interpersonal connection during the day comes via the phone lines and high-speed internet. 

Another BIG issue is balancing work-life... with life-life... when the two worlds are so close together.

So what's a person to do?  How do you balance things?  How do you draw clear lines and set up effective boundaries? 

Those are the questions my client was asking.  They might be the questions you're asking too. 

For my client, we started to set up strategies for planning her day... so that she could end each day with a clear sense of accomplishment and with a clear expectation for the next day.

One solution was that she decided to set aside 30 minutes at the end of each day.  (She actually made an appointment with herself in her outlook calender.)  During that time she looked at her schedule for the next day along with her to-do list.

She would do some simple math to figure out how much time she had to work on her list of "to-do's" the following day. 

Her equation?  Total hours in work day - planned meetings = actual work time for "to-do's."

For example... let's say that Tuesday she was planning on working from 8 to 4:30.  She would look at her calendar and see that she had three one-hour teleconferences.  She also had a one hour lunch meeting with 30 minutes of commute time.  Plus, she had her 30 minutes of planning time.

So... 8.5 hours - 5 hours for meetings and planning = 3.5 hours for to-do's.

Then... she would look at her to-do's and decide on what she could realistically accomplish with that time. 

Lastly, she would build her to-do list for the next day based on the actual amount of work time she had.

This helped her come up with realistic goals for the next day.  Plus, it helped her to accomplish more in the time that she actually had.

She told me, "I feel more peace of mind by being able to close my lap top at the end of the day and know that even though there's a lot to do... I got everything done that I could.  AND that I know that I can come back tomorrow and go after it again.  It makes it easier to not feel like I have to be working all the time!"

Clear goals... and clear boundaries... that sounds pretty good to me!

How about you? 

How do you balance working from home?  Join in the conversation and share some of your strategies!

If you'd like a few more suggestions... check out Scott Young's 20 tips for working from home.

Photo credit: Cynner SF

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83452ceb069e200e398223e598833

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How do you balance things... if your office is 3 feet from your kitchen?:

Comments

Thanks for linking.

The post (and topic itself) is very interesting. I found I actually get much more productive, and feel less the pressure, if I keep track of how many hours I work every day. A simple excel spreadsheet does the work.

This gives me a measure of "how much" I did so far, and helps me not to overwork/underwork, which is one of biggest risks IMHO.

Then, setting up some "office hours" to make phone calls, answer mail, post/comment on blogs, IMs, etc. might be a good (necessary?) choiche as well.

I usually also dress up like I'm supposed to leave the house, and change my clothes when I stop working, to better separate the two part of the day; but this might be not necessary for all of us, it just depends on personal attitudes and tastes. :)

Savino -

Great stuff and great strategies.

And... I agree.

I know that everybody jokes about being able to do teleconferences while wearing bunny slippers (and that's okay once and a while), but I find getting ready as if I'm leaving the house... also helps me.

I feel sharper.

Plus... it makes it less awkward when the power company guy comes to check the meter! hee hee.

Thanks for checking in and thanks for the great info!

Mitch

Mitch,

I tried working from home... and failed.

Just did not work for me. I found myself doing "home" activities during some working hours, and then doing "work" activities during home hours. My wife and I agreed that the cost of having an external office was a fair price to pay for the balance it put in our lives.

Additionally, now I see most of my clients in my office. I am not sure I would want that kind of traffic in my home.

Well, of course workin at home just won't fit jobs which require social interaction... after all that's one of the main problems, the lack of interaction! :P

I agree with you, I'd never want customers going back and forth in my house... in that case you definitely need an office, I would do the same ;)

Art -

Hey... thanks for checking in.

BTW - I'd reframe your statement. I'd say that your "working at home" experiment failed. You didn't.

You just figured out that the part of your overall work "experiment" needed to take place outside the home. And... that sounds totally realistic.

As Savino said... not every job... and not every person is meant to be able to work from home.

I'm with you both... although I've dealt with it a few times in my work life... I wouldn't want clients coming to our house on a regular basis. Yow.

But thanks for also bringing up the point that it's tempting to do "home" work when you should be doing "work" work and then... you have to make up for it by doing "work" work... when you should be home.

Again... it's not for everybody. But for some it fits like a glove.

Thanks for the great conversation!

Keep the ideas coming!

You guys are awesome!

good point,I want to collect this post.
thank you for sharing this article for us.

The comments to this entry are closed.

« A Knock On the Door | Main | A Two Year's Old Attitude »

Technorati Bookmark: How do you balance things... if your office is 3 feet from your kitchen?

This site is intended for informational and conversational purposes, not to provide specific legal, investment, or tax advice.  Articles and opinions posted here are those of the author(s). Links to and from other sites are for informational purposes and are not an endorsement by this site’s sponsor.