Thinking About Working From Home? Answer These 3 Questions First
Whether you choose to work from home for an employer or yourself, one major benefit most people expect is increased flexibility.
When you work from home, you can often set your own schedule, come and go from your workplace as you please, take care of household tasks throughout the day and care for children when you need to.
But does working from home really guarantee that flexibility?
How Working From Home Can Make Your Day Harder
Skipping the commute and set schedule of working in an office has obvious benefits for anyone craving autonomy in their workday.
But it also comes with drawbacks you may not realize until you’re stuck battling them to try to get your work done and enjoy time with your family.
Here are a few things Work at Home Woman recommends considering before you decide to work from home:
1. How Will It Impact Your Income?
If you want to start your own home-based business, you’ve probably already considered the potential income.
How does it compare with your current income, if you already have a full-time or part-time job?
Are you going to have to continue to work while you get your business off the ground to avoid cutting your family’s budget?
This potential for doubling up on work, at least in the beginning, can add an unexpected burden.
The extra hours you put in will leave fewer hours in the day and less flexibility for the non-work activities you may want to focus on.
How to Avoid a Financial Burden
Set realistic expectations.
Develop a clear business plan and reasonable budget, so you understand how many extra hours you’ll have to invest and for how long before you get the flexibility you’re looking for.
2. Can You Manage the Workload?
Whether you work outside of the home now or not, taking on new work is bound to be a challenge.
You’ll have to balance your new duties with the work you already do, like taking care of the house, raising kids, volunteering and a full- or part-time job.
Consider which of your current duties you can drop, which you can delegate or hire out, and which you have to continue after you start working from home.
How to Balance the Workload
Take it one step at a time.
Before you dive in, create a solid plan and become familiar with the steps that will help you take on your new work duties.
But don’t take them all at once.
Ease in, and slowly add new duties while you shed the old, so you’re not overwhelmed to the point of ineffectiveness.
3. How Will You Separate Work From Pleasure?
When you work at home, the lines between the two blur pretty easily.
Is it time to answer emails or tend to a sleeping baby?
Is the spare room a space for you to work or for your husband to organize his eBay inventory?
When does the work day end if you never leave the office?
This lack of clear distinction between work time and space versus family/personal time and space can mean you either never get work done or you never know when to stop working.
Either way, it’s a quick path to frustration, overwhelm and resentment.
How to Strike a Work-Life Balance
One of the most important things you can do when working from home is to designate time and space for work.
And do the same for family and personal time -- especially if you tend to be a workaholic!
Leave your computer, phone and/or tablet aside when it’s time to hang out with the kids, eat dinner or catch up with your partner.
If you live alone, schedule “me-time” or social time with friends to get you away from the computer or out of the house to think about something other than work.
And when you’re working, make sure house or family duties are off your mind.
Schedule child or pet care during work hours. Stay away from distracting tasks like cooking meals and cleaning the house -- you won’t believe how tempting those become when you’re facing a full inbox!
Your Turn: What helps you balance your workload when you work from home?
Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She’s written for Huffington Post, Entrepreneur.com, Writer’s Digest and more, attempting humor wherever it’s allowed (and sometimes where it’s not).