Learn to Separate Home from Work – Or Your Business Will Suffer

Whether you’re running your company from home or a traditional office space, from a storefront or even a co-workspace, your primary focus as an entrepreneur is the same: operating a successful business.

However, with a home business, you face the challenge of keeping a clear line between where you work and live. The more solid and distinct you can make that line, the better. Learning to separate home from work is a lesson worth practicing – blur it too much and you could find yourself on a slippery slope to the detriment of your business.

So here are 5 things you can do to set up and practice keeping the two separate -- before a conflict arises and any damage is done to your business, or your home.

Define office boundaries

This is beyond having a desk, chair and your laptop. Create a workspace separate from your home or family space, ideally a room with a door that can be closed – which helps create a physical “separator.” Make this space your focal point for running your business, where you’ll make and receive calls, take video conferences and work on projects (even if you could be working anywhere in your house on your laptop).  

The boundary you create also signals to others at home that, whenever you’re in that space, you are conducting business.

Schedule your calls at appropriate times

As straightforward as this one sounds, it’s a tip that makes sense for many home business owners but won’t necessarily apply to all. For example, if your mail carrier comes at a regular time every day and your dog inevitably barks before she even comes in your yard . . . it’s not the time for a work call. 

And, yes, you can always shush your dog but the more you can avoid these situations, the less risk to your professional reputation.

Create a work schedule

Schedule the times you’ll work every day, with scheduled-in breaks. Managing your time effectively – with sustainable start times and end times to your work day – is crucial to running your business successfully and a great way to keep your business separate from your home life.

Be sure to prioritize your schedule based on the needs of your company, not around the personal demands on the home front. Structure your days and week like you would if you were employed at an office, setting time aside for projects.

Limit home distractions

Even when you have a space dedicated to your business, home distractions are just a step across that threshold. Use that physical boundary as a reminder that crossing over to “home” means you risk a prolonged distraction. You might miss an important call if your “load of laundry” takes longer than expected. Or if you have to take a call on the fly unprepared, you could risk damaging your reputation as a professional -- even lose a potential client.

Fight the pajamas urge

Yes they’re comfy but this much-touted perk of wearing your pajamas while you work can become a culprit in your fight to separate home from your business.

Wearing your sweat pants or boxers, or whatever, is blurring the line you’re trying to create, and may impact the operation of your business. Even if you don’t have appointments, getting out of your pajamas into at least “casual business” can help toe the line that separates work and home.

Your “business clothes” will set a professional tone to the start of your work day (you’re running a company after all!), and vice versa -- changing into your “I’m home” clothes signals the end of your work day. 

It will help keep you on track for higher productivity (remember time management is crucial to your success). Plus if you’re in your pajamas, your signal to yourself and others is unclear. Are you working or getting ready for a nap?

Closely related:  Home Businesses: 10 Ideas That Work Great for Small Towns and Rural Areas

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