How do you manage a work life balance working from home? When you work from home, work and home life can often blend together. Sometimes, this is a good thing. Sometimes it’s a distraction. And sometimes, it just makes everyone confused — are you working? Are you at home? What’s going on?
Deciding whether or not to set office hours depends on your unique business and family situation. It can also depend on why you decided to work from home in the first place. For some of us, not having set office hours is precisely why we wanted to work from home. For others of us, working from home is a perk of owning your own business.
If you choose to set office hours:
Having a defined work schedule comes with some great benefits.
That regular schedule creates predictability and makes it easy to schedule the rest of your life. And it can help with your own reliability. When you know when you’re supposed to be working and when you aren’t, you can make commitments both to your clients and to your family easier.
And it’s easier to draw the line between work and not-work time with set office hours. Having that boundary can help make it easier to focus on your family when you aren’t working, and to focus on your work when you are. And because there are set boundaries, when you close down for the night, it’s easier to relax.
However, having set office hours might not be ideal.
Especially if you’re a work-at-home mom, set office hours might be just as challenging as working outside the home.
Many of us chose to work from home because of a lack of appropriate or affordable child care. So having set office hours defeats the purpose of working from home, because there may still be that need for child care. Or if we set office hours outside of our kids’ needs, we might sacrifice our health, our relationships, or any outside interests. And none of that is healthy.
Even if you do have the supports in place, having set office hours might mean making difficult choices. Since you’ll have made commitments to your clients and customers, you might have to miss out on family events. Or, family obligations outside of your work schedule might mean that you miss out on opportunities for your business.
And the commitment of set office hours might cause more stress than it solves.
If you choose to not have set office hours:
Not having set office hours isn’t always easy either.
When you blur the line between work time and not-work time, you can often find yourself always “on” for work. And that can mean that there’s much less downtime for you!
Without a set schedule, it can be easy for work to drift into the time you’re spending with your kids, and for your family to interrupt or distract you from your work. And that can mean you can either be working all the time, or not working at all! It might be difficult to have a good work-life balance.
But there are perks to not having a set office schedule too.
The flexibility of being available means that you can work around your kids easier, and still be responsive to your audience. So when that email comes in with an emergency, your clients or customers know that you will respond quickly, rather than having to wait for your next block of work-time.
It also means you can be more responsive to your family. Since your schedule is flexible, you can make the time you need to for those special events, or if your child is sick, or if you simply want to hang out with friends spontaneously. It’s a lot easier to make adjustments on the fly without a committed schedule.
Most of us probably use a combination of both.
I don’t have set-in-stone scheduled office hours, but I do have regular work times. The exact start and end times might vary from day to day, but generally my clients know that I’ll be available at certain times of the day. They also know that if I don’t respond right away, that I will as soon as I’m free to do so!
My kids also know that I’m available to them almost all the time. And that if they do see me working, they respect my time and generally only interrupt if it’s important. (Of course, my children’s definition of what’s important
and mine might disagree…)
There’s no such thing as free money. For most of us, our incomes rely on consistent, regular effort, no matter if that’s at the same time every day or week, or as we can fit it in to the rest of our lives.
Choosing set office hours is a personal decision, and there’s no right way. But whatever you decide, make sure it works not just for you, but for your family and goals too!
Do you have set office hours?
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