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        How to Separate Your Work from Your Home and Family Life

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        Another AHBBO Article
        Flipping the Switch ... How to Turn Off Your
        Business and Turn On Your Life

        © 2013 Elena Fawkner

        So, you work from home.  Good for you!  No boss looking over
        your shoulder, no wasting time commuting to and from the office,
        no-one setting your hours for you or telling you what to do.  No
        one to care if you're wearing your rattiest clothes or don't take a
        shower before 10:00 am.  And how about no life and no time for
        yourself while we're on the subject of what you don't have any
        more?  Sound familiar?  If so, read on.

        Escaping the regimented structure imposed upon you by the
        corporate world may have been one of the driving forces that
        prompted you to seek a way to work from home.  One of the
        often-overlooked advantages of such a structure, though, is that
        it IS a structure.  It has limits, it places you at a certain place at
        a certain time, and it dictates what you will spend your time on.
        In other words, it establishes boundaries in your life.  The
        boundary between work and home, work and play, on duty and
        off duty, company time and your time.  You could leave work at
        the end of the day and your time was your own.

        Sure, you may have had other obligations but at least your work
        was confined within the boundaries of a workplace and a workday.

        Working from home, for all its advantages, can sometimes have
        the disadvantage of removing the boundaries between work and
        home, work and play, work time and your time.  For some, the
        problem may manifest itself as a tendency to procrastinate when it
        comes to work activities or a lack of personal self-discipline may
        become unavoidably obvious.  For such people, the formalized
        structure of a workplace separate from the home may suit them
        better than the independence and autonomy of a home business.

        This article, though, is concerned with those at the other end of the
        spectrum.  Those who have absolutely no difficulty at all in motivating
        and disciplining themselves to work from home.  So much so that
        their home business literally takes over their entire lives.

        In my time online, I've heard many people say that they sit at their
        computers for 18 hours a day working on their businesses.
        Oftentimes, they will still be working at 3:00 am and go to bed at
        7:00 am for a few hours before getting back in the saddle.  They say
        this as if it is something to be proud of.  I don't know about you,
        but working from home, when and if I am finally able to achieve it on
        a full-time basis, will be first and foremost a lifestyle choice.

        By that I mean I expect my decision to work from home will result
        in an enhancement of my lifestyle in that I won't have to commute
        for over an hour to get to and from work each day, if I want to start
        at 5:00 am and finish for the day at noon I can do that.  If I want to
        work all weekend and take two days off during the week I can do
        that too.  I can choose the projects I want to work on, I can retain
        the rewards of my own efforts and I am answerable to no-one but
        myself.  Although I understand that I will work as hard or harder
        at home than I do at the office, I certainly have no intention of
        merely exchanging one form of prison for another.

        So, it perplexes me that some people seem to think it is a Good
        Thing to shackle themselves to a desk for 18 hours straight and
        break only to snatch a few hours sleep before starting all over again.
        But, if that's how they want to live their lives, that's entirely their
        business.

        But what of those who want more balance in their lives but find
        they simply can't 'flip the switch' on their home business so that
        home becomes a retreat again once the workday is over?  If this
        is you, here are six suggestions to help you turn off your business
        and turn on your life.

        1. Confine business activities to an exclusively "work" room

        If possible, confine your business activities to a certain area of the
        house, preferably a room that is exclusively used by you as your
        place of work.  The advantage of a room as opposed to an unused
        corner of the living room is that when work is done for the day you
        can literally and symbolically shut the door on it.  Out of sight, out
        of mind.  If you don't cordon off your work area in this way, you
        will be reminded of work whenever you enter the living room.  Even
        though you may not be physically engaged in work, you will still
        be mentally engaged and that's the same thing.

        2. Separate communications systems

        Have separate communications systems for home and work.  That
        is, you have one telephone for home and one for work.  The same
        for fax machines and any other forms of communication.  When
        you are working, you should have your home answering machine
        on.  When you are home, you should have your work answering
        machine on.
         

        3. Establish a routine and structure similar to the workplace

        As stated earlier, the structure and routine of an external workplace
        has the advantage of allowing you to leave work behind at the end
        of the day.  By establishing a routine and structure similar to a place
        of work, you can still benefit from this advantage.  Now obviously you
        don't have to be as regimented as you would be if you worked in a
        corporate office.

        You don't have to start at 9:00 am, work till noon, take a one hour
        lunch break and then work through until 5:00 pm.  You can set
        whatever routine and structure you like.  The important thing is to be
        disciplined in sticking to your routine, whatever you decide it is.  If
        you prefer to work from 5:00 am through 10:00 am and then from
        2:00 pm through 4:00 pm that's fine.  This structure allows you to
        enjoy the hours from 10:00 am through 2:00 and after 4:00 pm as
        your own.  There is room for flexibility here.  Work however is most
        productive for you but stop once you get to the end of your allotted
        work time.  If you haven't finished what you started, then pick it up
        again in work time.  Don't allow 'your' time to be encroached on by
        work.

        4. Minimize distractions and interruptions

        By implementing suggestions 1., 2. and 3., you will also be
        establishing an environment where distractions and interruptions are
        minimized.  For example, if you have school-age children, by scheduling
        your work time to coincide with their school time, you will minimize the
        distractions and interruptions you will inevitably face if you try and work
        while they're at home.  By having separate communications systems,
        you won't be interrupted with calls on your home phone while working
        (your answering machine should be getting these calls so you can
        return them on "your" time).  By having an exclusively "work" area
        in your home, and making sure that other members of your household
        respect this space for what it is, you can help others remember that
        when you're in your room you're working and are not to be interrupted
        for things that can wait until you're "home" again.

        5. Rituals

        Rituals can play a useful role in flipping the switch at the end of the
        workday.  For example, you may already have a routine that sees you
        working until 6:00 pm, the time your partner returns home from work.
        Perhaps you share a glass of wine together at that time.  Why not
        think of your shared glass of wine as an "end of workday" ritual.  By
        making a habit of doing this, your mind will soon learn to associate that
        glass of wine with the end of the workday and flip the switch on work
        in automatic response.

        Another idea is to wear a certain item of clothing while working so that,
        when you take it off at the end of the work day, you mind makes the
        connection between its removal and the end of work time.  A baseball
        cap, a particular pair of shoes, whatever it is doesn't matter.

        6. Plan to take days off and vacations

        Finally, when establishing your routine and work schedule, don't
        forget to schedule days off and vacations.  And make sure you take
        them.  You may decide to take Saturdays and Sundays off, or your
        "weekends" might be Tuesdays and Wednesdays or Mondays and
        Fridays. Whatever works in best with your lifestyle, do it.

        The same goes for vacations.  Don't underestimate the rejuvenating
        effect of taking a week off entirely.  Not only is it good for your overall
        health and mental wellbeing, you will probably find that you are that
        much more productive when it comes to getting back to work for having
        taken a true time out.

        Hopefully you can see that working from home does not have to
        mean turning your home into a place of work.  Working from home
        as a lifestyle choice should mean that the quality of your life is
        enhanced as a result of your decision, not diminished.  By practising
        these simple disciplines day-in and day-out you can be sure that
        even though you are taking care of business, you are also taking care
        of something even more important.  Life.

        _________________________

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