Working from Home

I really, really love my new business designing sites and blogs for people.  I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved in the last two months.  I’ve worked for some wonderful creative bloggers, who have been so kind and supportive to my design business. I have clients lined up until Easter, and I couldn’t be happier with how it’s going.

But I have a problem, I don’t know when to turn off.

I realised that there was a problem with how I was working, when Miss L who is a massive iPhone fan was delighted when it self destructed.  And I mean REALLY HAPPY that she’d get some ‘Mummy Time’.  Last week was a nightmare as I was trying to do bits and pieces while she was on half term, I should have taken the week off but I didn’t. If I’d been in an office working for someone else I wouldn’t have had a second thought about taking the week off.

So from now on I’m going to treat it like it’s an actual office job, there’s no point in me working for myself and then still working at 12pm at night.  I might as well accept that things sometimes take a little longer and plan accordingly.

  • Paperwork that needs to be dealt with and invoicing can have it’s own day
  • I need to set up a work area – the sofa isn’t really cutting it anymore. Not sure where it’s going to be, but maybe the dining table and a shelf from the bookcase will do?
  • So I’m going to take most of Easter holidays off
  • Work hours will be 8.45 – 3pm and NO WORKING IN EVENINGS!
  • I’m going to disconnect my VioletPosy email in the evenings so I don’t see it.
  • I need to make time to design my Violetposy Design site – still not even started!
  • Do some Sage Line 50 Training for the accounts.

If you work from home, or have your own business what do you do to keep a work/life balance?  I’d be really interested to hear, I never thought it would be so hard.

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20 Comments

  1. It’s incredibly hard, because technology means you’re always available, and it’s ridiculously difficult not to look at that email/answer that call in case it’s something work-related. I feel very guilty sometimes when it’s after school and I have to go back on the laptop – but I always make sure we talk for at least 20 minutes. By the very nature of doing something creative, too, I think it’s difficult to just work regular hours. Particularly in my line of work, when I often have to interview people in the evenings because that’s the only time they’re free to talk.

    I work at the dining room table, partly because of convenience and partly because it means I can look at the garden whenever I need to (on google streetview you can even see me at my laptop, lol!)

  2. It has to be separated. Only you can decide how to do that but I’m sure you know that your children come first. It’s not easy but I guess discipline comes into it and a lot of determination to keep both work and home life running smoothly together.

    Good luck with it all. And well done on your success so far.
    CJ xx

  3. Thanks Liz. I honestly didn’t think that I’d find it as hard as I am. I think before when I had an office job I was very concious that after school/evenings were home time and I made an effort to turn off. I now find myself saying ‘Mummy will just be a minute’ and then an hour has gone by and poor Lily is about to go into a melt down. She’s been I think very tolerant of it so far, but last week really made me realise it’d had gone too far.

    I like the idea of working at the table and looking at the garden – even if it is another thing to make me feel guilty! But at least it’s pretty 🙂 I can’t believe you can be seen on Streetview LOL!

  4. Thanks Crystal, you’re right she comes before everything and it’s time I got disciplined and more organised….fingers crossed 🙂 xx

  5. This post could have been written by me – husband reading over my shoulder just asked if it was mine!

    My intial reply was going to be all my tips on how to have a good work/life balance when you run your own business, but actually they would be tips that I need to take note of too, because my balance is, at the moment pretty goddam awful!!!

    Every week I say to myself ‘be stricter’ don’t work late when husband is on a late or night shift, watch TV, have a bath, read a book – do nothing! But the laptop seems to appear on my lap.

    I set up my PR business two years ago and gradually I’ve moved from lap to dining table to home office in the loft. Being able to shut the door at the end of the day has helped my state of mind, I think less about work when cooking dinner.

    I work a three day week and I’m trying desperately to be stricter on clients that I don’t work Monday and Friday but it’s hard having the confidence to tell people that and make them accept it. It’s so important though because otherwise I spend my two days with the bear feeling anxious to the point of dispair about not being at my desk answering emails that I know because of my Blackberry are flooding in (what a stupid idea that was).

    You do have to imagine its an office job – would you reply to an email at 10pm? Would you do stuff outside your role when you already have too much on your plate.

    I’ve come a long way in two years but the balance is so hard to achieve – dash from your desk at 5pm to do the nursery run and switch off from what you were working on and become mum in the space of 15 minutes.

    It fries my brain trying to figure out how to have a happy balance. I dream of a check out job in Waitrose, and none of the stress of running a business. I imagine sitting infront of the TV and doing nothing all evening, waking up fresh and not with my stomach in knots worrying about everything I need to get done.

    I hope this honest reply doesn’t come across negative because there are huge plus sides too. I think the key is just to be really, really strict on yourself and like you said, treat it like an office job.

    Will be checking back in the hope of some life saving tips from others – Liz the garden view is a definite help, I agree there!

    x

    1. Hi Catherine
      I’m glad I’m not the only one struggling with this, it’s so much harder than I thought it would be. It’s interesting you saying about having the confidence to say to people that there are days you don’t work. I think that I’m going to have to implement something like that. On Thursday my old job had a problem with a computer and I spent hours fixing it, for it to go wrong again Friday – when I wasn’t supposed to be working! I think I need to learn to say no a bit more! Thanks for the support and I hope your’s become less manic and we get some good tips xx

  6. I put all of my work away at the end of the day and try to be really strict on not working in the evening. Being an early bird, if deadlines are tight or on the odd occasion I need to, I get up earlier and have a few extra hours then. but evenings and weekend are MY time.

  7. Liz,
    great first step in acknowledgment of time spent.
    You do have to make it separate, or you will not turn off and make your self crazy. Setting time lines for work and family is the very first step and it’s the most important. I don’t look at my email after 6:00 pm at night. (due to my work, at times I do get emergency calls from the Law Officers in my building, I have them call my person phone) but other than that I keep it separate.

    second, a work area for your work is important. I just saw a great little office set up at Door sixteen.
    http://www.doorsixteen.com/2010/01/28/closet-office/
    She converted a closet to an office space, brilliant idea. You can close the doors to “close up shop for the day”. If you have a closet to convert of course.

    Wishing you much success!! such an exciting time for you.
    congrats on you success of your client list!! yeah for you!!
    xx
    callie

    1. Hi Callie
      Thanks for the advice, I think I’ll have to keep the laptop in another room that way I’m less likely to turn it on and not look at my mail. I love, love, love that cupboard….I could build something like that in the dining room in the nook by the fireplace. I need to have a think but that is genius! thanks xx

  8. This is really interesting. I’m glad it’s going so well, but I can see how it takes over your life, it’s bad enough with blogs and twitter! When we get back from our travels, I’m planning to start writing from home. I realise I may not be inundated with work, but you never know. And you are right, if you can’t spend time with your children as a benefit of working from home, then what is the point?

  9. Hi Victoria,

    Exactly the whole point of working for myself and at home was to have more time for Lily, and I feel I’ve utterly failed at that at the moment. Still tomorrow is another day and I’m going to have to develop a way of working which means I can turn off. I’m so looking forward to hearing about your travels 🙂 x

  10. This is an issue for me too – especially during the holidays as my girls are both usually at school. I am very convinced though that my children are happier having me around (even if I’m not giving them my undivided) than they are having someone else looking after them. I am happier with them being brought up with a good work ethos too – that we have to work to get what we want – but that their parents are always there for them when they need them. Working for myself has given me the freedom to be their for special assemblies, sick days, Christmas plays etc – I wouldn’t swap it for the world and I’m sure my girls would agree!

  11. I hear you loud and clear Liz.
    I’m really really lucky in that I have an actual ‘office’ at home in which I can shut the door and get my head down and work.
    At the end of the working day I pick my children up, bring them hope and still find myself checking in ‘just in case’, so it is really really hard.
    I think it’s just something you have to find a happy arrangement that works for you. My wake up call is when the children say ‘you’re not in the office AGAIN are you mummy’. That’s it, I switch off and go play wrestling in the lounge. Or something.

    That said, I GREATLY appreciate everything you have done to redesign my blog and I have to admit it does make me glow with a happy feeling that I’ve given a working mum the work and not a faceless company at the end of the computer line.
    Every time I write on my blog now, I will think of you coding away with Lily hanging off one leg . . .

  12. I have worked from home for 3 years now. It’s a little easier for me because I work for someone else and not for myself. We have a very strict routine. I get the little one up and get her brekkie (she is 19 months) then my hubby who stays at home to look after her takes over. I lock myself in my office (next door to the playroom – bad planning) and come out at lunchtime where I get lunch for us all. I lock myself in again for the afternoon and at 5 I come out and look after her till her bedtime at 7pm.
    I do everything I can to avoid conference calls after 5 although a few a week still sneak in.
    After 7pm I am free to do my own thing again. If I had my own business I think I would use that time for work again

  13. I can imagine it would be so hard, especially when you are trying to build your business up. Anytime I have worked from home, I either don’t get anything done or I am doing it in the evening. It’s hard to find a balance, it sounds like you are getting there. Good luck and success with VioletPosey. xx

  14. You are always so generous with your time and your energy my friend, I think last on that list should be “And it’s ok to say no sometimes” 🙂

    I struggle with this so much, and I’m only really ‘playing’ at a career right now. I find it so hard to split my focus between my own plans and the needs of my family. I could quite easily spend twelve hours inn day working on my own thing and barely look up for breath. Maybe that’s why our family’s are there – to help us find more balance.

    Hope you find yours xx

  15. It’s a really tough one, this, isn’t it? I totally struggle with it myself, and I don’t think there is a simple answer. I am lucky in that I have a separate office at home, so I can shut the door on it at the end of the day. Trouble is the end of the day just isn’t at 5.30 when you’re at home, is it?!

    Half term week was a bloody nightmare, as I had my busiest week work-wise for ages, and also trying to play catch up before a long weekend away, as well as make time for William. Whatever you do, you feel guilty about something. I do, anyway.

    Something that I find works quite well for me in term time is stopping work at 3.45 to do the school run, and then if I need to, go back to it after Will goes to bed at 8.30 pm (sometimes with a sneaky 20 mins to check email slotted in while he’s occupied with his homework!).

    And I quite often get 30 mins to 1 hour’s work in, early in the morning, before everybody else wakes up (I’m a morning person, so that doesn’t trouble me particularly).

    There’s no easy answer, I don’t think, and it’s mightily difficult to switch off from it when you work from home.

  16. I think its just down to discipline, when I worked at home I realised I was having conversations with clients whilst unloading the dishwasher! Not very professional. Someone also gave me a great bit of advice, give yourself to the task you are doing for 45mins, then allow yourself 10 mins of you time – to tweet, to fb, to make tea. It helps you achieve more and hopefully you feel less like you should be working in the evenings.
    I think you also need a space where you can close the door at the end of day! That helps! Its personal to everyone and you will find your way with this. Lilly will probably help!
    big hugs