Being able to have a work from home business is a dream come true for me. I have the flexibility to be able to do the things that are important to me in my life like spending more time with my family. My youngest left her lunch at home the other day and I was able to run home and get it right back to her without having to call into work or take any time off. The children’s school programs are during typical business hours and I’ve been able to attend every single one. If I know there’s something coming up, I can get up earlier to get things done, adjusting my schedule to fit the needs my family rather than the other way around.
That does not mean, however, that life is a bowl of cherries all the time. Nothing is going to be perfect. So let’s take a look and address those potential issues, along with ways that we can potentially fix them. Let’s get started, shall we?
Separating Work and Family Life
When you work at home, your home is our office. You could be working one minute and tending to a child the next. Maybe you’re preparing dinner between phone calls or answering emails as you’re folding the laundry. The line between your professional life and family life becomes blurred. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been guilty of this too. I’ve been known to have the computer sitting on the kitchen counter as I’m preparing dinner so that I don’t miss anything.
Solution: Set a schedule. Set a time for when you’re going to work and when you’re going to do things for your family or your home. You have to be rigid about it. Of course, things are going to come up and you might have to get some work done during family time. That’s going to happen. That would likely happen if you worked in an office. But that should be the exception rather than the rule. Why should your friends and family respect your schedule if you don’t? Set those expectations. This can help to ease the burden placed on relationships with your family as you’re working to continue your business. Read more here about closing the office for the day.
Not Enough Space
Not everyone has enough space in their home to set up a dedicated home office, where you can close the door, kick up your feet on the desk while sitting in your executive desk chair.
Solution: Find a dedicated space where you can work. A place you can work consistently each and every day that you choose to work. Even if it’s a coffee table or a folding table as long as you have a place you can work consistently, you’ll be able to get into the groove. For a long time, I worked in a comfy chair in my living room using a TV table as a desk. The important thing was that I was able to use this same space each day you work from home.
Not being taken seriously
People feel like if you work from home you don’t really work. You must be simply poking around on your computer while you’re doing things around the house. This is more of a hobby for you than it is a real business.
Solution: Remember what I said above? If you don’t take yourself seriously no one else will. Set expectations with your friends and family. Let them know the things that you’re doing. If they can understand what you’re doing, they’re more likely to believe in it just as you do.
Cannot do any work – Interruptions
If you have children, you’re going to get interrupted. Your spouse might pop in just to say hi and strike up a conversation. A friend might stop over because they know you work from home. Stop it people! If you were working for a company in an office would anyone just show up unannounced?
Solution: Not only do you have to have a schedule of when you’re going to work, you have to let everyone else know that you have a schedule. Let your loved ones know that during your office hours you are not to be disturbed unless the house is on fire. If the house is on fire, you should not be disturbed unless they’ve already called the fire department because they couldn’t put it out themselves. It should be that serious. Sometimes there are important things that you have to get done, so see if you can get some help for the day. If your spouse is not available or for single parents, see if someone would be willing to watch the kids for a while so that you can get some things done. Both of my children are in school and so for those hours that they are away, I work like a mad woman in order to get as much done as possible while they’re away. Once they get home, I don’t feel guilty for shifting my priorities to them.
This has always been a big one for me. Since I work from home all day, I can go for long periods of time without adult conversation. I’m sure my dog wishes I would work somewhere else more, but I digress. Working home alone can feel lonely. You don’t have those impromptu “water cooler” conversations that you might be used to having. If you’re a stay at home mom, you may be feeling a different type of isolation as you attempt to settle into the routine of your new business.
Solution: Do something to get out of the house at least once a day. Take a walk around the block. Run to the grocery store. Work from the library or coffee shop for a day. Do something each day to have contact with the outside world.
One thing that I’ve found really helpful, is joining a community of people online who also work from home and provide me with a sense of community. I’ve even been able to make friendships that I’ve been able to take offline, meeting up with friends who understand my experience.
Self-discipline or Self-Management
This is a big one and one that likely is the downfall for a lot of people. I know it has been for me at times. There is no one telling you that you have to get something done. You don’t have any deadlines for completing projects or a boss writing up a performance review or determining your ability to be promoted. You’re on your own.
Solution: Remember your why. Why did you want to start your own business? Think about your goals. What is your business going to allow you to do? Find out what keeps you motivated and put it somewhere that you can see it. Refer to it often. When you feel your motivation waning, get that list back out to keep yourself pushing forward. You have to set yourself up for success.
Keep Your Other Interests
When you’re running a business. It’s easy to let it consume you and working from home makes it easy. You can take the ten-second commute to finish “one last email”. Or, spend all your time either taking care of your business or your family.
Solution: Pursue a hobby that has nothing to do with your business or your family. If you love to write, do it. Love to paint? Consider taking an art class. If you like to create new computer programs, go ahead and start on the world’s best app (just close your email before you start). By doing something away from your family, you’ll feel that you are doing something for yourself and come back to your business feeling refreshed.
What issues do you find when you’re working from home? How do you make the best of them? We’d love to hear your advice.