By LINDA GOODSPEED
I was talking on the phone with a contact I had been trying to reach for days when I heard the mailman tramp up the front stairs and my dog, lying so contentedly at my feet a moment ago, started barking furiously, drowning out the man at the other end of the phone. I opened the door to my office to let the dog out, and my daughter walked in.
“Mom, do you know where my cleats are?”
I waved frantically for her to be quiet. Then the door bell rang, starting the dog barking all over again. I got up from my chair, holding the phone to my ear, my finger in my other ear, and went into the living room, looking for quiet. Instead, I tripped over my daughter’s school bag on the floor. The TV in the kitchen was blaring a music video.
“Can I put you on hold for a minute?” I weakly asked the busy executive I was trying to interview.
Such are the perils and distractions of working at home.
Working at home can be wonderful and frustrating all at the same time. Here are some tips to make working at home work for you.
1) Make an office. Don’t try to work on the dining room table. Set aside an office and keep it as your office. Put a door on it, even a lock if you have to.
2) Keep other family members, especially children, out of your office when you are working. Impress upon them that when you are in your office you are working. If they need you, they should knock on the door.
3) Even when you are not working, your office and office computer and phone should be off limits to the rest of the family. Invest in another computer and set it up in a public place for use by your children and for family computing, such as shopping on line, movie downloads, etc.
4) Keep regular hours. It’s OK to get up, put a wash in, or pick up the kitchen, or make the beds. But keep distractions to a minimum and your absences short.
5) Get dressed. You don’t need to dress for an outside office, but you shouldn’t work in your pajamas either. Find a casual, comfortable wardrobe that works for both running around town and working in your office..
6) Avoid getting sidetracked on the Internet researching that trip to Spain,shopping for Christmas, or chatting on Facebook. You wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) do this in an outside work office. Don’t do it in your home office.
7) Working at home can be isolating. Make lunch dates with friends and colleagues. Attend conferences and business events. They will provide good social outlets and are also good networking opportunities
8) Avoid home office creep. Keep papers, files, research materials, mail, notes in your office, not spread around the house. The rest of the house is for the family. Keep
your work in your office.