The hardest thing about establishing yourself as a professional working from home is to impress upon people that the key word is working. It’s difficult to convinced friends that you cannot be on call to do daycare, errands or projects barring extreme emergencies. Relatives may not understand the concept, but you can and should ask that they call your cell phone, and only if you tell them you’ll be out of the house or if they just cannot wait for messages to be checked on the business or home phone. Unfortunately, family can’t wait for anything when they know it’s not like you have a real job.
You Only Have Yourself to Blame
Some people are so thrilled when they start working from home that they allow friends and neighbors to put them on their child’s emergency contact list. This usually leads to the parent calling to say their darling has a fever, and instead of them losing pay at work, could you please run to the school and babysit until after work. Knowing how stressful it is to have to explain to a boss the reason for leaving work yet again, you oblige, thinking you’ll make up the work in the evening.
Then the dry cleaning had to be picked up for the function tonight, and the cleaners would be closed before the office closed, could you please, just this once…? Someone’s boss needed some research done, and “Since you’re so good at it I thought if you could give me a hand (do it for me) I could impress my boss and have a better chance at that raise”.
Losing control of your own agenda means productivity, measured both in quantity and quality, declines, and soon you’ll resent those closest to you for taking advantage. Once the feeling of being overwhelmed sets in, you’ll find yourself spending more and more of the precious time you have left preparing to work instead of actually working.
Remedy Past Mistakes
Take control of your time, and those close to you will still love you. The trick was to identify your goal and the path to getting there.
Your goal is probably to support yourself with the income earned in your home office, working on your own timeframe. Start by finding that person within yourself who had made the decision to start a freelancing career and restore the confidence that had promised success.
Once found, it’s easy to identify that the major cause of discontent was that you have lost control of your own agenda. When you started you knew that you had to work hard and consistently, but probably had never identified set hours as a priority. The flexibility is what makes freelancing so attractive, but when you give that flexibility away, you leave no time for your own success.
Before you leave your desk for the day, look at what is scheduled for the rest of the week and firmly set the schedule for the following day. If you’ve planned a relaxing outing for later in the week, be determined that no temptation to schedule work during that time will happen. If you over-reached expectations and find the set schedule finished early, take out your list of ideas and do a little research. Some of your best ideas come while researching in this stress free time at the end of the workday.
Once you realize that your career is as important as anyone’s, you can convey to your social circle the value of your schedule and gain their support. Stay available as an emergency contact, but that means absolutely no one else can be reached, and the school has had to call you. Yes, you can run a friend to work tomorrow because their car broke down, but you can’t pick them up and wait for them to get their nails done.
Take control of your time, restore your confidence, and use those tools to successfully run your business.