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Secrets for working from home

   Workingfromhome_2                         As layoffs spread through my office, I try to keep a positive outlook by working from home at least once a week. But it's been difficult. Sometimes my dog often barks while I'm on a business call. Not very professional. Next, my car in the driveway seems to be a sign to my neighbors to drop by and chat. Worse, I feel guilty about the unwashed dishes, dirty laundry or the clutter that needs to be put away while I force myself to sit in front of the computer. And then I feel guilty when I do get distracted and try to make up for it by working into the evening.

     So, I found the conversation sparked by Dave Navarro, a business productivity coach, on his Freelancefolder blog hit home. It's particularly timely as laid off workers consider some type of work from home arrangement. Navarro asks freelancers and entrepreneurs to share their biggest secret to work-life balance success.

    Here are some responses:

  • Lois K writes: I set a schedule and stick to it. I treat my freelancing as a regular job with regular hours. I have been known to do overtime, but at least stay with the schedule for minimums. I also let my family know my schedule.
  • Allena T writes: My secret: I refuse to multi task. Work time is work time and family time is family time, and never the two shall meet.
  • Jeff Zbar, author of TheChiefHomeOfficer blog, writes: With three grade-school kids about, it’s a moving target. But a routine (albeit flexible) helps. So does understanding from those around you (including you) that sometimes you have to punt. And sequester yourself until a deadline is met. And reward yourself for a job well done. And do it again. And again. Until you retire. In 2028…

      All those secrets for success sound good to me. But I wonder...is the discipline for working from home perfected over time or is it something you need from day one? Are some people just not cut out for working from home?   Do YOU have any secrets for work/life balance success to share with those now considering working from home?


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jeff zbar

In a Perfect World, discipline would be a wonderful thing to possess at the home business starting line. But it often doesn't happen that way. Many people coming out of corporate America lack the experience to master the distractions found in the home office (TV, chores, kids, pets, Starbucks, etc.). And distractions evolve (kids get older, their extracurriculars and school events command even more attention; 19 years into this gig, I'm still occasionally driving carpool, fetching a sick kid, delivering a forgotten lunch, etc.).

Balance is a learned behavior. Heck, it's like getting an MBA in home business - and you never quite get enough credits to graduate...

Ray Medina

I have been working from home for a year now and yes, as Jeff commented previously, you always can find yourself delivering a forgotten lunch, etc... But I think you do that even if you are in an office. I remember when I was in an office, a few times driving to pick up my kids sick from school and then taking the rest of the day off b/c I couldn't take my kid back to the office. At least now, I can put them in bed, give them medicine and still be in a conference call (mute). I've learned to be very discipline, but at the same token, I don't schedule anything before 9am and nothing after 4pm (exercise before nine & kids extracurricular activities @ 5pm). One thing I'm always strict about is my LUNCH time. When I first started working from home, I found myself working thru lunch and didn't eat anything until about 3. Not anymore...

It also helps to read your "To-Do list" article (http://miamiherald.typepad.com/worklifebalancingact/2008/12/to-do-list-help.html). It will help your work-from-home life 100%.

I completely agree with you that NOT everyone is work from home material, but it does help to have a designated "office space".

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