How to separate “Home” from “Office” in your Home Office

Doesn’t a home-based office sound great? No peak-hour traffic, watching daytime telly over lunch, working around personal commitments and taking the laptop off to the local café now and then.

But the reality is somewhat different – and the distraction are many and varied. The breakfast dishes don’t wash themselves, after all, and telemarketers love people at home during the day.
Not to mention friends and family assuming that because you work at home, you are able to chat on the phone, have lunch or run errands.

The difficulty lies in separating “home” from “office”, when they are basically the same thing?

Here are seven ideas that work well for me:

1. Have a proper “office”: OK, so right now, I am sitting in the lounge room with the laptop on my lap while my daughter dances to her CD player, but usually you can find me in my office. It’s not ideal, and I share it with several dozen wine bottles, the clothes airer and my husband’s collection of amplifiers. But it has a door that I can shut – which I sometimes even do when I am alone.

2. Don’t answer the home phone: People that ring home phones during the day are either a/ telemarketers or b/ my mother. The former can wait and the latter will ring my mobile if it’s urgent.

3. Clearly separate home chores from work: I do emails and social media before school and daycare drop off and then, as soon as I am back home, I wash do the breakfast dishes and hang the washing out. Then I sit at my computer and work until it’s pick up time. The house gets a once over late in the afternoon.

4. Negotiate with the kids: Working around pre-school aged children can be tough, so try and do a deal with them where you do something fun in the morning and work in the afternoon, Or vice versa.

5. Hire help: Just because you work at home does not mean you can also cram in all the housework (which you don’t get paid for). I have a cleaner come in once a fortnight. I figure I can earn twice as much in an hour than I pay her, so it is worth every penny. And, as soon as you can afford it, outsource the bits of the business that are not core.

6. Avoid working on weekends or holidays: I admit, I struggle with this one, and I think my kids see the laptop as part of my anatomy. But I recognise that if I give the kids my undivided attention on weekends, they are more tolerant of my working during the week. The last time we went on a family holiday, I actually left the laptop at home (but I admit I took my tablet so I could check emails etc.

7. Don’t multitask: This is a tough one too and you will often find me writing a blog post, or a client newsletter, while also doing the parenting (as I am doing right now!). I shouldn’t do t, and I know I shouldn’t do it. I am making little changes here and there, but I think as a mum and a woman, I am hardwired to multitask. But, here’s the thing, when I avoid multitasking I am a better writer, better mum and better wife..