At first glance, working at home might seem like the perfect solution for any modern woman. No need to sacrifice your family life or your career! You can have it all by working from home! Right?!
However, a short stint as a work-at-home woman may make you think twice about your decision. With unending responsibilities and no place to call a refuge, a woman who works from her home is on duty 24/7.
Furthermore, because so many women are natural multi-taskers, they may actually be able to manage it all for a while before burnout strikes. Then, with the phone ringing, a sink full of dishes, an inbox full of emails, and kids demanding her attention she wonders why she’s so unhappy when she’s “living the dream.”
The fact is, no work situation is perfect and despite its challenges, working from home can be fulfilling and enjoyable. But it should not be undertaken without maintaining some structure and ground rules – for yourself, your family, and your clients.
Here are three keys to successfully working from home.
1. Set Rules for Yourself
When it comes to yourself, it’s important to remember that you are a multi-faceted individual and you need to nourish every part of yourself – professionally and personally. Sitting down and placing limits on the time you spend at work, or conversely, setting aside time that you can devote exclusively to your family, your faith or your hobbies will allow you to focus your energy on what you are doing at the moment. You’ll be a lot more effective and relaxed when you know you’ve planned enough time to manage everything that is important to you.
Many women become martyrs when they are buried with responsibilities, and while they take pride in being able to get a lot done, they find they suffer because they don’t take the time to really enjoy themselves as women, partners, and friends. Don’t put off your workouts, your date nights, or your manicures just because you’re busy. Balance means finding time for things that make you happy, too.
2. Set Rules for Your Family
Your family needs to know that your success as a work-at-home woman depends on them respecting certain limits. That can mean giving you the time you need to work uninterrupted, keeping ‘hands off’ your designated workspace, and understanding that you can’t “do it all” on demand. Obviously, most of us will agree that our family is a priority, but we are only human. Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you don’t need help with cooking, chores, shopping, or other household duties. Having regular conversations with your partner and children can remind them of your needs and in turn, give you a chance to hear any worries or frustrations they may have.
3. Set Rules for Your Clients
Finally, when it comes to your clients, it’s important for you to have limits on the times when you can be expected to respond. In this day and age with the high-speed internet, many clients may expect you to be on call 24/7. This can be worse if they know you’re a freelancer or working from a home office. Clearly communicating your “office hours” or letting your clients know your policies on deadlines and communications will help you keep your work in its place – and not allow it to take over your personal or family time.
While it may take a little effort to set your limits and enforce some ground rules (for yourself and others) in the long run, you’ll find that you’re a lot happier and healthier when you do. Maybe you won’t achieve “zen,” but at least you’ll keep your sanity.