Last week, I thought I would treat myself to a matcha green tea latte one morning after I dropped my kids off at school. I ran into a friend at the coffee shop. She asked if I was on my way to work to which I replied, “No, just heading home”.
Later, I laughed at myself as I drove home, sipping my latte. I work from home, and I was, in fact, heading to work. I had a lot of exciting things planned that day: write a couple blog posts, edit one I'd written another day, and record some videos for my Skillshare course (affiliate link).
So, why did I tell my friend I was just heading home?
I have been thinking about this ever since and it seems like there are few reasons - some good and some not so good. Let's start with the not-so-good because I think there are lessons to be learned when working from home.
When Work Isn’t Work
I don’t consider writing to be work - it’s super fun for me! I look forward to dropping my kids off at school so I can have some alone time with my thoughts and my keyboard. Even when I’m writing a piece for someone else, it’s still fun. You might be wondering why I’m including this in the not-so-good category.
Because I have so much fun doing something I love, it’s easy to forget that I still have deadlines and I still have people depending on me. When I’ve had jobs in the past that I didn’t enjoy so much, I thought about them constantly and it was impossible to miss deadlines. I sometimes worry that because I’m having so much fun, I will suddenly forget that I owe someone an article. That’s why it’s important to for me to establish a routine and set boundaries.
Setting Boundaries for Myself and Others
Over the years of being my own boss, I’ve learned that it’s really important to establish boundaries. Even though I no longer have an office with open and closed hours, I still set specific hours that I want to work. This really helps me maintain a routine and keep work separate from family time. When you really enjoy your job, it can be easy for it to creep into all areas of your life. That’s okay, sometimes, but I want my family to feel important by having my undivided attention when I’m not working.
Setting boundaries for other people can be difficult when working from home. Because I’m at home, it’s hard for friends and family to know exactly when I’m working and when it’s okay for them to stop by. This is where I sometimes have to get tough with them and politely let them know I’m working right now but I’ll have time to visit later. I’ve even hung a “do not disturb” sign on my front door.
Flexibility is Nice...in Moderation
Having the flexibility to work when I want and how long I want is my absolute favourite part about working from home. The key is making sure I’m not so flexible that I don’t get anything done. This is where sticking to my boundaries comes in. You have to recognize you are running a serious business and you can’t drop everything any time someone needs a favour. Once in a while is fine if you want to help out, but just because you work from home, doesn’t mean your business is any less important than someone else’s 9-5 job.
This is where I caught myself when I was talking to my friend. I realized I wasn’t seeing the value in what I do because I work from home, so I said I was “just” going home. Just because something is fun, doesn’t mean it takes less work or should be valued less than a gruelling 9-5 job. Actually, I think it should be valued more because it causes less stress and allows me to live the flexible lifestyle I love.
Next time I see my friend, I’m going to have to buy her a coffee for helping me realize the value in having a flexible job I love!
Do you work from home? Have you ever caught yourself in any of these work-from-home situations? Please tell me I’m not alone and share in the comments.