The Work-Personal Paradigm
Stop fretting over the amount of time you spend on personal problems in your home office. Turns out it’s not all your fault.
U.S. News & World Report’s Money & Business blog recently posed the question: “Is It Harder to Cope with Personal Problems in a Home Office?”
It’s an interesting question, and I’m quite certain the answer is yes. But it’s not all our fault. We also have evolution and the family factor to blame. Here’s why:
1. We’re wired for a break. A wise person once told me: “We don’t work like machines; we work in bursts.” You shouldn’t feel bad about working for a few hours and then taking a breather to do some menial personal tasks. We need the break in order to refresh our creative energy, so consider doing personal tasks as a rejuvenation exercise that will benefit your career.
2. We get more done with bad lighting. As a freelancer, I work from home, though I spend one day on-site at a client’s office. Going into the office is a blessing. I instantly adjust to all things “corporate” – even my mind-set changes. There’s cold air blasting out of the vents, the fluorescent overhead lights, and the perfectly placed trifecta of tape, scissors and stapler. My monitor is nice and large, and I never trip over its wires. Best of all, nobody bothers me, which gives me plenty of time to… get some personal stuff done. I have a file folder marked “personal,” a list of all my Internet passwords, and I carry a memory stick on my keychain. I relish using my company’s T-1 line, which lets me send 10 e-mails in the same amount of time I could at home. When you’re doing something like vacation planning, a T-1 line and free phone service come in pretty handy; just make sure to use 800 numbers and do the work on your lunch break or after hours.
3. We mistake personal time for “home” time. If you don’t have an office-in-the-city oasis, I suggest you go somewhere other than your home to get your personal tasks done, such as a coffee shop or park. But be diligent about it: Go at a certain time each day, have a list ready, and don’t bring your newspaper or beach reading. It’s your personal stuff, but it’s still serious a life-management responsibility.
4. We are expected by others to be “free.” I try my best to level-set expectations. My boyfriend may think that because I’m at home I can take on menial tasks such organizing our pots and pans, or updating our Netflix queue. That’s not the case, and I try to let him know that by simply not doing it. But since I’m home, I like to make him a warm meal every night, just to keep him hooked on my lifestyle – and on me.
Tell us: Do you take care of the ‘personal’ when ‘working’ from home?