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Working and Living: Don't Blur the Lines.

 

When you're at home all the time, people have a way of giving you everything to do, with no regard for your job. It can be very hard indeed to keep your family life separate from your business when you work at home -- in fact, this is one of the most common reasons home businesses fail, and their owners come away all too glad to get back to the corporate grindstone. If you don't want to be driven away from home business, here's what you need to do to keep your family at bay.

Work Time, Home Time.

Make a schedule for when you're going to work and when you're not, and stick to it. This doesn't have to be inflexible -- it's very silly to only work nine to five every day, for example -- but it still really needs to be there. Without a plan, you're inevitably going to go too far one way or the other, and either work far too much or nowhere near enough. You might find it best to a new plan at the start of each month or week, so that you can still respond to changes in circumstances.

Yes, I know it can be difficult to draw clear lines between family time and work time, especially if your family is around for some of the hours that you want to be working. The only thing I can say to you is that it's important to keep on trying, because the moment you give up everything's going to come crashing down. Whatever you do, don't let your family anywhere near your office space.

Fit Errands Around Work.

People will obviously be upset if you absolutely refuse to run their errands -- is it really so much trouble to run down to the bank when you're at home all day? -- but you can't let them take away hours from work. You should make your response automatic. When someone asks you to take an hour out of work to do something during the day, tell them that you'll have to make that hour up at the end of the day, so they shouldn't expect you out of the office until an hour later than usual.

Don't Do Chores.

It can be tempting to do the laundry or the dishes when there's a load of them to do and work seems slow, but don't give it to it during your working day. Chores eat up an amazing amount of time. One thing you can do to help resist the temptation is to wear better clothes than you usually would when you're working -- not a suit, but something business-casual that you wouldn't really be willing to wash dishes in.

Have a Business Phone Line.

You need a phone line that's just for business to let clients leave messages for you when you're not in the office. Say exactly that in the message: 'I'm not in the office right now, but please leave your name and number and I'll get back to you'. Whatever you do, don't be tempted to take business calls after-hours, or give out your personal number to business contacts -- this is a sure-fire way to never stop working. Turn off the ringer on your business phone when you leave the office for the day.

With Children, All Bets are Off.

If you have children at home during the day (if they haven't started school yet, or it's a school holiday), it can be very difficult to maintain a sensible work pattern. They will come and bother you at every opportunity, because they miss you and want to see you. They'll even cause trouble just to get you to sort it out. They wanted to come and bothered you at your office job too, you know, but they had no way of getting there.

So what can you do when there are children in the house? After all, it's harsh to just ignore them, isn't it? The best answer I've found is to hire a babysitter, who can keep the kids entertained while you work. It could get expensive, but it shouldn't be for long, right?