Moms who work from home do not lack ambition. We do not lack creativity. We do not lack intelligence, discipline or vision. Some people might say we lack time, although we have the same amount of hours in a day as anyone else. But we are missing something crucial to our success – effective boundaries.
We are in desperate need of a gatekeeper — that wonderful person who protects you from interruptions and distractions and keeps you focused on your most important tasks. I remember being envious of senior level executives in the corporate world who had someone to answer their phones, check their email, schedule appointments and clear their desk so they could solve problems and create solutions. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have that kind of assistant in your home office?
For most of us, that’s a pipe dream. We have to be our own gatekeepers. And it can be particularly challenging when we spend most of our day shifting from “mom” to “business person” and back again. We love both of our jobs and it’s difficult to keep them separated. Our minds are divided and our hearts are torn. But there are some strategies we can put in place to set better boundaries when we work from home.
How to Set Better Boundaries When You Work From Home
1. Establish regular office hours. Even if you have to change them every week, it’s important for everyone to know when you are working and when you are not working. Too many moms try to “squeeze in” a few hours of work when it’s convenient but there never ends up being a good time for it. So be intentional about when you plan to work.
2. Identify dedicated office space. I love those photos of women working on their laptops at the beach but somehow I just don’t think I’d get much accomplished if I took my office to the beach or the pool or the playground. I’m the kind of person who is sensitive to my environment. I like an organized desk and familiar noise-free surroundings. So I do most of my work within the four walls of my home office. It’s the best way for me to set a mental and physical boundary. When I cross the threshold into the foyer, I’m no longer at work. Even if you don’t have a separate office with a door, try establishing a designated space for work – and use that space for nothing else but work.
3. Communicate clearly. It’s not enough for YOU to set boundaries, you also have to make sure those around you know what to expect. Talk with your children about rules for picking up the phone, answering the door, keeping the noise volume down, playing on your computer and entering the office without permission. Discuss your office hours with your husband so he knows when to expect you to be available for him (hint, hint: you might need to have this conversation if he’s upset that you spend every night on the couch with your laptop while he’s trying to enjoy downtime with you). Let your mom know that you can’t chat for an hour every day while you’re working (then give her an alternative time to talk!). Tell the ladies in your small group that you won’t be able to grab coffee spontaneously but that you can’t wait for the next regularly scheduled meeting. And by all means, kindly inform your friends, your sister and your neighbors that while you love their children you are not available to babysit during work hours. [Read more...]