You’ve eagerly bounded into your home office to start your day, and suddenly there’s a knock at the door and Betty, your mother-in-law, has popped over for a chat and coffee.
With a sigh you let her in and sit through an hour’s worth of idle chatter, her words passing in one ear and out through the other as you mentally sift through the work you want to get started on today. And of course, because of the hold-up, you’re now going to run late with dinner and the quality time you want to spend with the family once your business work is done.
Does this sound familiar? The same scenario most probably plays out with your friends and the next door neighbour.
They mean well, but they just don’t GET IT that you’re not at home to receive visitors and chit chat all day; you’re at home because you’re making a legitimate living!
What’s happening is that you are not setting clear boundaries, and when your boundaries aren’t voiced people are not aware of them; you tend to get trodden over and feel a whole lot of anguish and anxiety over someone’s actions.
So, are you running a business or are you running a hobby? If you’re running a business, then you would have a clear idea of what your hours are, when you are working, and so on. Are you someone who likes to just “run with the flow” and get your business done whenever, or are you someone who likes to work, say, in the mornings and between 2pm and 4pm? To ensure you achieve what you want to achieve in your business, it’s really important you understand when you work at your best and when you are committed to working. Sometimes this can also be dictated by your target market and / or your clients.
The next step is to take responsibility for those hours and let everyone know of your unavailability during those periods. This is clearly stating what your boundaries are, so the next time Betty or the friend or the neighbour unexpectedly visits, you won’t feel so bad when you say “Oh, you know what Betty, I would love to sit down for a chat, but like I said the other week, I’m working between X and X and it’s really important to me. Can we catch up after I finish work?”
When you’re working at home, turning away people you love can be a challenge; you don’t want to hurt their feelings right? But when you voice what your boundaries are, and it comes to a time when that loved one has crossed the boundary, it creates a safe and gentle environment where you can remind them of your unavailability and then extend an invitation to visit when you aren’t working.
Your clients, your family and, eventually YOU, will thank you for it!
Article by Tara West © 2009
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