If you work from your home or would like to work from home and have a family (your partner counts as family if you don’t have kids!), stop skimming, sit up, and pay attention. This may be the most important thing you have read in a while.
A friend of mine recently quit her stay at home consulting job due to her work-life balance getting out of whack. I’ll let her out herself in due time, but let’s just say she’s no small fry and she’s very good at what she does.
The problem was that her work became the only thing that she was doing – but she’s a wife and mother, too. Her words:
“I spent so much time and effort trying to be physically present at home that I forgot about being mentally and psychologically present.”
If you work from home, ask yourself whether you’re fully present or just physically present. If you’re planning on working from home, ask yourself whether you’ll be able to separate work from life.
Working outside of the home creates very natural barriers between your work and your life. You physically work at a different place at fairly regular times, and your heart and mind follows suit. There’s the work you do, and then there’s where you want to be – home.
When you work from home, those barriers break down. There’s the work you do at the place you want to be – so what’s the need to take off work? You’re there, aren’t you?
No, you’re not. Home is where the heart and mind rests – not where your ass does.
The living room couch becomes subtly tainted when it becomes the de facto office. You’re not chilling with your spouse if you’re sitting next to her while you’re working – you’re working, and she’s doing something else. There’s a silence there you can’t hear because you’re too busy working to your background music with headphones on.
Children quickly learn the difference between you at work and you at home. But when you work from home, they get confused – and the confusion is magnified when you work from home more than you do anything else. This confusion manifests itself in temper tantrums, showing out, and distancing since they can’t come up with more “adult” ways of getting you to spend time with them.
The most pernicious problem for your family is that you don’t just transform your homespace into workspace – you transform everyone’s space. Remember when you hated going to work? Imagine their frustration when (your) work invades their home and they have nowhere else to go. Imagine their frustration when they can’t talk to you in their natural setting because you’re working during what’s naturally understood to be family time.
I’ll save the tips for how to create “work” boundaries at home for later. It is possible to work from home without the dire effects, but they sneak up on you before you realize it. You don’t want to get into the situation in which your relationships are irreparably broken or where you have to hide in your own home away from your work to save those relationships.
Your family doesn’t want your body to be home – they want your heart and mind to be there. Given the choice between you being gone for 8-10 hours but home for 4 and you working from home but never being there, I’d bet most would choose the former over the latter. Don’t make them make this choice mentally or otherwise.
It’s summertime! Take off from work and take your spouse out for an unannounced summer stroll. If you have kids, take them outside and catch fireflies.
You’ll remember it as the day you took off work. They’ll remember it as the day you came home.