Working from home is great. You have all the extra time you need to keep the laundry done, run errands, cook, clean–all those things other people have to do when they get home from a job. It’s a great life. Or is it? Are these things eating into your work time? Wouldn’t you be more productive if you set working hours just like people with jobs outside the home? Doesn’t it make more sense to also set home hours to tend to those things you have to do around the home?
An ordinary “work from home” day can go like this: You start a load of laundry–you have the freedom to do this, it’s cool. You then sit down to start writing and before you know it the buzzer goes off and breaks your concentration. Do you keep writing or go tend to the laundry?
You decide losing a few minutes isn’t going to hurt anything so you go put the clothes in the dryer and get it started. Once you sit down to “work” again, it often takes another ten minutes to get back to the train of thought you were having before the buzzer sounded. Again, you finally get into your groove with writing and the buzzer sounds again. So, once again, you’re off to do the laundry. A typical load of laundry takes an hour and a half. In that hour and a half you’ve just lost a good 15 minutes of writing–that’s if you only tended to laundry while you were up.
The phone rings. It’s your best buddy from high school. Do you answer it or keep working? If you answer it you could be on the phone for an hour. Time spent on the phone is time you’re not spending writing.
You realize you forgot to grab a certain item while you did your weekly shopping. No problem, you have the freedom to run to the store and pick it up–after all–you work from home. Is it possible you could do without that item for awhile longer? Can the item wait until after working hours? That’s when other people go to the store or run errands.
Maybe your spouse or children forgot to tell you they needed something important from the store while you were shopping. But it’s okay, you work from home, it’s not a “real” job and you have all of this freedom to cater to their forgetful whims.
Or maybe they expect you to drop everything because it’s their day off? They didn’t plan ahead so you could clear your schedule, but they do expect you to drop everything at a moment’s notice and spend the day chasing garage sales.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you want to work from home it’s best to set normal, daily working hours and stick to them. If you need to run errands–set a day aside for that so it doesn’t eat into your work time.
Make sure your family and friends understand that you have working hours just like everyone else and you’d appreciate it if they’d abide by them.
If no one respects your working hours, understands that this is a career for you and you can’t take control of the situation–you may be better off getting a nine to fiver outside the home or decide that the writing life isn’t for you because you don’t have time.
Another consideration is all the things you need to update on a daily basic–blogs, journals, twitter, Facebook, Myspace–and other social networks. Do you spend time taking care of those things each morning before you start your work day?
Ben Spark added a great post covering these distractions earlier this week. Be sure to check out, Caution: Too Much Can Stunt You.
I’ve found in my own career, that if I get down to business first, the business goes more smoothly and I’m more productive. Social networking is important, but it can be scheduled for break time or even after work hours. Trust me, I’m the world’s worst about getting lost in Facebook land and losing precious time by goofing off too long. The simple solution is to check those things on your leisure time–not on your work time.
The harsh reality is until you take your own career seriously and start putting your foot down and avoiding distractions–no one else is going to take you serious either.
If you want a writing career, make it happen. If you want to play around like you have a writing career, that’s what you’ll get; a play along game that your friends and family don’t take any more serious than you do.
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