Working from home: separating personal time from work time

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When my husband and I get home from our day jobs, we don’t waste much time before jumping into our second jobs of operating an at-home business. Now that our careers take place both in and out of the home, the line between work and personal time has started to blur. Our house now doubles as a work place, and I often find that I can’t truly relax when I’m there because I feel guilty when I’m not working on business operations.

What steps can I take to separate personal time from work time when at home?

Ariel says

OH LORD. Megan and I both think about this issue a LOT, since both of us work from home, and both of us work in multi-purpose spaces — my desk is in my bedroom, and Megan works in her living room. We both use the internet for business AND pleasure, which makes things even more complicated — sometimes I’ll catch her on IM at 10pm, and try bitching at her about working too late. “And what are YOU doing online?” she’ll ask me, and I’ll be all, “Uh, reading the latest posts on the Tribe and making sure no one barfed any spam on any of our Facebook pages…” GUILTY.

This is all to say, separating personal time from work time at home is an ongoing challenge that we BOTH have a lot of experience with navigating. That in mind, I thought we’d do a she said/she said with Megan and my tips for the boundaries we try to set for ourselves…

Turn off the computer after X:00 pm

Unless I’m behind on work, I try to turn off my computer at 8pm. Granted, I still have my smartphone in my pocket for the rest of the evening… but I tell myself that’s just crisis control. I can glance at my phone, know everything’s fine on the Empire, and stop thinking about it. (Hopefully.) 8pm works for me and my life, but your exact time may vary.

Remind myself that it looks bad to do business at night

Sometimes I’ll get an irritating work email on my phone after my computer is off, and it’s all I can do not to boot up and send back a quick reply. Then I remind myself that when someone emails me, say, an advertiser complaint at 9pm, it actually looks bad if I write back immediately. It says I have nothing better to do than be staring at my email all night, and really: we should all have better things to do. (Even if we don’t.) Plus, I’m more likely to be impetuous and rude late at night.

Never interrupt in-person face-time with work

Ask any Offbeat Empire spouse, and they’ll tell you: it can suck being married to someone who works from home on the internet. We’re starved for in-person social interaction, but harried and maladjusted from moderating comments and dealing with crazy bitches online all day. We want to talk (and tell you ALL ABOUT the craziest bitches), but we also have the attention span of a ladybug on Ritalin. We need to hang out, but can’t stop checking our datafeeds. We’re bossy and blabbery, but prone to dropping out of conversations mid-way to check server stats. It’s fucked up, and the best way I try to compensate is to try (and sometimes fail) to always give my husband my full attention when he’s talking to me — no fingers on the keyboard, no glances at the smartphone, no half-assed “uh-huhs” when he’s trying to talk to me.

our living room

Megan says

Oh man, when your living room is also your office, many problems of work v. private time boundaries arise. It’s extra hard for me and my loved ones, as I look the same while relaxing AND working hard — butt on my couch, laptop on my lap, feet up on the coffee table, tv on. Is it work time? Is it hang time? Is it kind-of-sort-of both? Sometimes even I don’t know. So Ariel’s rules have also become my rules. And trust me: we’ve had to work hard to force ourselves to NOT keep working after a certain hours and I know that I still struggle with the not interrupting in-person time with my cell phone.

Here is what I’d add to those rules:

Take an entire day (or days) off

I hear you all too well on the “feeling guilty when I’m not working” thing. Like I said, my relaxing time looks a lot like my working time. And, sometimes when my laptop is open I feel the urge to sneak a peek at comments, or just put the finishing touches on a post, or even check my email, and MOST times I give in to those urges. But NOT on Saturday. Saturday is my one full and proper day off where I give myself permission to not EVER feel guilty for not working. Whether I’m just staying home and watching tv with my laptop, or spending the entire day out in the wild, having an entire day to take a break from the guilty feeling is necessary for my sanity. And my husband is stoked to know that he gets his non-Empire-slave wife back for 24 hours at least.

Create a designated office space

Do as I say and not as I do on this one, guys. I have a cool-looking desk that was supposed to be my “office” but I don’t use it. Even if I did, it’s still part of my living room. How I wish we had one extra room that could be the designated office space with a designated office computer that would be able to separate “living space” from “work space.” When you’re in that office space it’s work time, but once you finish, leave the room, shut the door and turn off work-mode.

Your turn

What advice would all our other work-at-Homies give to Melanie, and the rest of us who blur the lines between private time and work mode?

Comments on Working from home: separating personal time from work time

  1. A couple ideas for ways to start moving towards Megan and Ariel’s rules, if you’re not able to do it all at once.

    1. Never EVER work in bed (or in your bedroom, if you can help it). If your mind starts feeling like bed is a place to work instead of a place to sleep/sex/read trashy fun books, you’re way way more likely to have trouble falling asleep because you’re worrying about work-related stuff. Keep a little notebook or a couple of sheets of paper by your bed so that if you do end up being jolted awake by the realization that you need to do something, you can write it down to do later.

    2. Have a small dedicated place that is ONLY for work. If you’re not yet successful at having a home office for “work” and the rest of the house for “home,” at least designate one chair or corner or desk for “work ONLY.” That way, you have a place go to when you really know you need to get super serious about getting some stuff done, instead of sitting on the couch and surfing the web intermittently while you also do some work.

    3. Get out of the house when you can, for either work or play. I like coffeeshops, and I have two sets of them. I have some coffeeshops I go to when i really need to get some work done and I know I’m just going to want to relax at home later, and then a couple of other ones I go to when I’ve finished working at home I just want to relax or surf the internet or hang out but being at home without working is making me feel too guilty. This helps take some of the pressure off of your house as a locus for all this stuff.

    I’m really bad with this kind of thing, but these few things have been pretty dependable for me.

    • Yes! #1 is so, so important. I don’t even work from home (technically), but I do work overseas in a job where I have colleagues that are 10 time zones behind me and 4 time zones ahead of me – so pretending that I only work when I’m in the office is a joke. I made the mistake of working in bed for a long time, because I thought it helped work to seem less stressful when I was at home…but if it does that, it also makes non-work time in bed seem MORE stressful. I’ve done my best to break this habit (still slip up sometimes), but I wish I’d never started…

      I also love the idea of two types of coffee shops. Had never thought of that – will keep it in mind when I (hopefully) make the jump to full-time work-from-home this fall!!

    • Everyone always says to absolutely never work in bed or even the bedroom, but I think it may vary from person to person. I was in a dorm room all four years of college and did my physics homework in bed more often than not. I never had trouble sleeping and I think I actually did my best work in bed πŸ˜‰

    • I love number 3 and do it all the time. Only my go-to place is the library. They have a quiet study room and when I’m there, I’m in “need to get shit done” mode because I can focus and I’m not distracted by whatever else I might need to get done at home.

      I don’t really work at ‘home’ per say but I volunteer with my high school’s robotics team and there are times that I need to just GET STUFF DONE and if I’m home, its not going to happen.

  2. Oh lord. This is so familiar. My dude is a freelance graphics designer and I work a day job, plus help run a theatre company (or 2).
    Our main issue is our computer IS our source of entertainment – we really don’t own a tv anymore, so if we’re going to unwind, we can’t just close the laptop. It is just so easy to sneek a peak, especially when you work in industries where everything is at emergency level red.

    Do you think creating seperate emails for work and personal help, or just cause confusion?

    • OMG, I can’t believe I didn’t mention that! Establishing a separate work email address was a MASSIVE game-changer for me and Megan both. Like, life-changing. Completely life-changing.

      • I’m with this too. My Tribe email is the Tribe email only. Personal stuff goes elsewhere so I don’t end up looking for an email from my friend and then get sucked in.

    • I have an out-of-home job (or two) but I do occasionally work from home. I find it helpful to make it harder to check my work email from my home computer (rather than connect my laptop or smartphone using an email client, I log into my work computer remotely). That way I don’t just happen to wander over to my work out of boredom because it takes several intentional steps to get there.

      • For a while, I had my work email (for my dayjob) connected to my smart phone. After a couple of months, I removed it… because I found I would just read work emails whenever they appeared and it made me feel like I was always working. Leaving the work email for during work hours helps a lot.

    • My husband and I are both computer professionals – he working from home, me not – and we have always kept our work and personal email separate. Partly it’s for privacy reasons, as our employers have the right to read our work email, and partly it’s to keep work and personal time separate.

      Neither of us logs in and reads our work email outside of work hours if we can help it, because we don’t want to get sucked into working off the clock when we don’t have to. Although both our jobs include fixing stuff if it happens to break outside of normal working hours, in both our cases, if it’s that urgent someone will phone us.

    • Like everyone else said, separate emails are totally essential. One other option, *if* you can afford it, is to get a device that can be for internet/TV-watching entertainment, but NOT at all for work (we’re in the same situation – don’t own a TV anymore, so the laptops are our only way of watching shows/movies). I chose an iPad for this purpose (pricey, but at that point it was the cost of my sanity, so it was worth it), because I literally could not get myself to stop checking work email on my laptop at night, on the weekends, when I woke up in the middle of the night, etc. I’ve never set up forwarding of work email to the iPad, and I don’t even have Skype on it. It’s purely for non-work media consumption. Of course, a little self-control could have attained the same effect, and over time I’ve actually become better at using the laptop on weekends without doing work…but it took having a separate, strictly non-work device for me to re-learn how to consume media with no possibility of the work email alert popping up in the lower right corner…

  3. I have a “No screens on around the kid” rule. It keeps me me uber-focused when I am working and more engaged with her when I’m not. I have tons of parenting guilt-might as well use it to my advantage!

  4. My desk is butted up right against my couch in my tiny living room, so physical separation is pretty impossible. But I really try to work at the desk instead of around the apartment in general, so my brain can make the switch. Plus, I’ve started following the Megan + Empire’s unstated Saturdays free habit (outside of comments, you can’t get away from those — no way no how!)

    Now the problem is getting friends and family to stop assuming I’m free during working hours. They just don’t get that being physically at home doesn’t mean being free for whatever.

    • I don’t answer calls from friends/family when I’m working, with a couple of exceptions for those who might call me for an emergency. I also let people know when I call them back, like “Sorry I missed your call, I was working.”

      I try to avoid answering the door, but if I do answer it I shut things down fairly quickly with a “well I’ve got to get back to work, but it’s been great chatting to you!”

      People seemed to get the hint fairly quickly. Obviously this is easier if you have set hours that you work. I enforced the rule during standard business hours so it’s easier for people to remember, and if I’m working outside those hours then I’m more flexible.

    • Re. Superman & Megan’s post up above, I’m a self-employed archaeologist and had the same issue when i first started out almost 5 years ago. Eventually (proably becuase i was in the field all the time)people started figureing out that i really DO work and I’m not sitting around watching bad day time TV all day!

  5. Heh, my husband and I both work from home and do everything practically opposite from you guys! We each have our own office but that’s also where we do our “fun” computer stuff and other activities (my husband has an extra Xbox in his, for example). We both work on and off throughout the day instead of scheduling specific times (taking breaks as needed as long as everything gets done). We can’t really take full days off regularly (we have no other employees to rely on) but we spend lots of each day together in some capacity so we don’t feel ignored. For me, practically the whole benefit of working from home is tricking myself into not feeling like I’m working because I’m wearing comfy clothes and surrounded by fun stuff and can go get a snack whenever I want, so making everything really strict would just make my brain rebel and stop focusing.

    I guess it depends largely on the type of work you do (obviously some home businesses need to be “open” specific hours) but I think each person/couple needs to find the balance that works best for them.

  6. Love this article! So helpful. I definitely need to devote more time to getting out every day, whether for a stroll, running errands, meeting friends for lunch, or just working in a coffeeshop. Sometimes I realize I haven’t left my home office/home in 3 days and I get worried… working on this now and doing much better at it! πŸ™‚

    I’m lucky enough to have an entire room devoted to my office, and I do find that if I turn off the lights, put the computer to sleep, and shut the door to the room once I reach my “work limit” for the day, I’m much less prone to charge in there and fire up and work until my eyeballs drop from my skull.

    To Ariel’s point about not replying to emails at all hours, I completely agree. I try hard not to reply to messages at night or on weekends because I want to create that work/personal barrier and also give the impression that I will NOT drop everything just to reply to you.

    That said, I use Gmail for work, and there’s an amazing plug-in program thingie called Boomerang. It has a few different functions, but I mostly use it to schedule replies. So I’ll want to respond to an email at 9 pm on a weeknight, but I don’t want the 9 pm timestamp. I compose the message, then use Boomerang to set the message to leave my inbox the following morning. BAM! Makes me look like I am not working all the time! (Bonus: allows me to sleep in a bit, yet gives clients the illusion I’m up and at ’em at 9 am on the dot! WIN.)

    I did also recently (finally!) get a smartphone that’s compatible with my email and calendar, which makes it much easier for me to spend time NOT at my desk. I can access my email, schedule, and files on the go so I don’t feel guilty if I”m not at my desk all the time.

    I also use a program called Time Out that fades out my computer screen once an hour for a few minutes to remind me to get my ass out of my chair and move around a bit. Srsly, don’t you get so IN THE ZONE sometimes that you forget to move for hours? This program is a huge help.

    Also, the biggest tip I can offer work-at-homers: Scrimp and freecycle all the desks, bookshelves, and other supplies you need, but invest in a quality desk chair with good support and comfy cushioning, the best you can afford. Your body will thank you!

    • Another computer trick might be to schedule reminders/appointments to get out for part of the day. I also find that listing or scheduling my work tasks helps me stay focused and not procrastinate, especially at home when it’s so easy to do things other than work.

      • I’m just a stay-at-home mom, rather than a work-from-home-er, but I have found that making my computer automatically shut down at certain times makes a huge difference in getting to actually do things – like go to bed.

    • These are all amazing – thanks so much! I have a colleague that has been doing the Boomerang thing manually (I think some email clients allow you to schedule a send time), and I’ve been eyeing it enviously for a while. Plus, I *love* the idea of it making up for me being a few minutes late in the morning (which I frequently am!!). Also love the idea of Time Out – going to look into that RIGHT NOW!! :o)

  7. I work mainly in an office, but that’s not to say that work doesn’t creep into my personal time.

    – I don’t get email on my phone. I know not everyone gets this luxury, but I feel like every time I get a notification, it sucks me right out of the moment and into Think About Work mode.

    – I have an email limit each night/morning before work. If I’m checking my email, I set a number that I’m allowed to open, usually picked by the seeming importance of the subject line. Everything beyond x number of emails has to wait.

    – And I have a limit on work-talk. The minute I get home from work or get through dealing with some work stuff, I start talking about it. And I don’t ever stop within a reasonable amount of time. Even if you’re not actively working, work can consume your personal life if you let yourself dwell on it.

    – I don’t do any work in the hour leading up to sleep. If I think about work in that hour, my brain goes all whirry and I’m up forever. Or, worse, I use InDesign in my dreams and wake up waving my arms like I’m using a mouse and clicking (true story.)

    • Dootsie (and anyone/everyone else), how do you set your limit on work talk? Just curious, as this is something I struggle with mightily. Do you limit yourself to a certain amount of time (e.g. 15 minutes of unfettered, guilt-free venting)? Or do you limit it to one complaint/topic per day? Or what? I find it hard to strike a balance between keeping my mouth completely shut (which is OK, but does leave my partner out of the loop on important issues in my life), and just blathering on forever and ever and about, to use Ariel’s words, all the craziest bitches… :o)

      • Cooking dinner is always ‘how was your day’ time; (venting, moaning, gratuitous spleen opening included) but as soon as we sit down to eat work talk is banished. If I’ve had a bad day I do tend to make food that takes longer, but sometimes that extra ‘debrief’ time is badly needed (god-damn crazy bitches!)

      • Honestly, it’s something I’m still working on. But it’s a conscious rule. That said, like every rule, I forget it sometimes, then remember it mid-rulebreak. So I clamp my mouth shut, take a big deep breath and change the subject. My boyfriend knows what that means, so it WORKS. He’s not in my field of work, so he’s okay to let the subject die. If he were or if he seemed concerned, I’d probably clamp my mouth shut, take a deep breath and then ask if it’s okay to move on to the next subject.

        Another technique is the importance filter. I start talking about the most important stuff, the BIG stuff. The stuff that affects my life in a big way or maybe both of us. Stuff I expect to talk about other days. If I just THINK about the importance of things and make a list from most to least, that makes me more likely to think that the least important stuff doesn’t even need mentioning.

        If I start to ramble, I do a quick check of his expression. If he’s glazed over or disinterested, I mentally run over what I’ve been saying. If it was important to me, I state that, because I think everyone deserves to have some of their bitching heard. If it was aimless Negative Nancy rambling, though, I know it’s probably time to move on. If he’s getting just as passionate about it as I am, I usually take that as a sign that it’s time to move on, too. I’ve gotten my commiseration, but there’s no sense in everyone being stressed out about it.

        No talking about work in the hour before bedtime whenever possible. This is similar to my no email rule. It keeps me up at night if I get started just before bed.

        Finally (and for me, this is the hard part,) when you’ve stopped talking about something, the subject is closed for the night. You don’t get to come back to it. You may not stew. If it helps, every time you start to complain about something work related, start talking about a really cute baby animal or something awesome that happened or something GOOD. You really have to train yourself to move on if you’re a dweller and a seether, like me.

        As far as a hard time limit, that’s not practical for ME. But I definitely see the value of setting an egg timer, then when it goes off, survey your head to see if you’re done. Hint: you probably are.

  8. A good friend of mine often works from home but lives with people in the house who are not working. When he’s “on the clock” he puts on his work badge so that they know to give him the physical and mental space to work. No badge? Feel free to blather and drag him outside.

    If might be helpful have some signal like this to other people in your home, when working and relaxing look the same from the outside. It might additional be a self referential cue. “I’m taking off my work hat for the day” sort of thing.

  9. Set boundaries with friends and family. I have office hours and make it clear that just coz i`m home all day doesn`t mean you can drop by anytime otherwise whole morningscan disappear and your work day lasts well into the night.

  10. In addition to work email address, I also use different profiles/user setups on my computer and if I’m working on a project which does not require internet, I just switch it off. That way you work without having your private stuff disturbing you and usually most work emails can wait that hour.
    I think the problem is not only your working life interfering with your private life, but also your private life Interfering with your work life. It makes it blurry, doesn’t matter which direction it goes

  11. I love this article. I just started working for myself this summer and I am struggling with taking a day off today. In fact this was my Facebook post about two hours ago.
    “I am really struggling with taking a day off. No chores, no glass work, do people really do this ?”
    My self employed friends all responded “NO”

    • As someone who works an 8-5 office job, I actually have to take days off to DO some chores. And to work on any of my hobbies at all. I feel like for the people who work from home, they have often found a way to make their hobby “work”, so that probably helps. At least, I hope it’s like this…

  12. Man, I would love to be able to work from home. There’s a whole office in our house that was great for school, but since I graduated… No more πŸ™

  13. My best advice for working at home is – stay organized. Give yourself working hours (not necessarily “from-till”, but maybe “X hours per day”). Get yourself an office room – or if that fails, an office corner. Use this corner for work only, and the rest of your place for living. And: Stay OCD about your paperwork. ^^

  14. I worked from home for almost a year. Then my husband and I moved cross the country to work in the company’s office. What a change that has been.
    However, part of my job is managing the company’s social media sites. When I get home from work I still want to check out Facebook and Twitter. Its just so easy to check the pages I admin while I look at my personal page. Twitter is so social that I feel like whenever a new tweet comes in I have to respond. I’m working on it, but its hard for me to ignore fans!

  15. So…. Here’s one that hasn’t come up yet!

    I own a franchise that is part of a national company. We have a call-centre. People can email, phone, or send internet enquiries 24/7. The Call centre says we will return the call within 10 minutes. I get notifications imediately via email and…. SMS! even when people are fiddling on the website at 2am. I have learned to turn my phone onto flight-mode before I sleep.

    But sometimes I just want a Sunday off o go visit family or whatever, and I constantly feel like I’m obliged to be on the phone giving quotes and booking appointments. I’m able to ignore the calls most of the time, but how do I deal with the guilt? I feel like I’m being rude to my family if I’m on the phone, but worry that I might lose customers if I’m not. πŸ™

  16. I work only from home and I’m very introverted, so that’s a good fit. This has helped me figure out that I have social needs that aren’t met – so I’ve been creating ways to simulate those connections. The nature of the work doesn’t allow for coffee shop work though – too many proprietary filters on web access. So I have to schedule time out of the house – or I can go several days without leaving the house.

    The blurring the lines between home and work is tough – because if I do a home thing during traditonal “work” time, I feel guilty. And if i have to do work stuff in the evening, I feel like I’m taking from the family. My solution is to look at it in units of time – so work get 7 units and home gets 7 units on average. If I borrow from one, I repay from the other.

    The other thing that helps me is I live in the central time zone, but most of the folks I work with live in the eastern. So I work mostly eastern time zone hours – this gives me about an hour before my husband gets home to be done with work.

    Another thing that works for me is to take a walk at the end of my work day – just getting out of the chair and house and going for a short walk creates a transition space between work and home. This lets my brain sort out the end of day stuff and get ready for the next thing – like simulating a commute home.

    I would imagine running a home business together as 2nd job would be a good thing to do as a couple. But I would also imagine that you need to designate non work couple time too. The analogy that comes to mind is like when planning a wedding, a good piece of advice I picked up on the OBB site was to have date nights that were wedding-planning-free zones, just so you can remember what you like about each other and connect on that level.

  17. I’m with everyone else about trying to create different zones, but one thing that has helped a lot: having a dedicated work computer. Again, not always doable, but my laptop is my work computer. I do have a dedicated office/guest room but move around the house as well, and it’s been a tremendous help because I can go upstairs, charge the laptop, and close it. Done. I’ve found having both my computers upstairs and out of sight helps me do what I want in the evening.

    Another thing I use often is: The Pomodoro Technique. Look it up. It helps me stay focused throughout the day so I don’t feel guilty about not replying to that email at 8pm, because I know I’ve put in a lot of time during the day.

  18. I work half my 40-hour work week from home, but my work from home is not as open ended as some. I’m an online teacher, so I have to be available to my students during specific hours. I can do laundry in between grading essays and answering questions, but I can’t randomly decide to do my work at 3 AM. I think that, as Ariel and Megan suggest, designating time and space for work is important. I might tweak my hours to accommodate a student, but, generally, I turn my computer off when work hours are over.

  19. Wow, awesome advice all around! I really love reading about the different challenges that others face with at home jobs and businesses, since I identify with so many of them. My husband I certainly run into the same hurdle of creating that invisible barrier between our relationship time and business time, especially when we also work full time day jobs. Sometimes it feels like the only buffer between out of house work and in house work is the drive home between the two. For me, having something to look forward to before either job starts is a great way to relieve stress and create a check point between both responsibilities. This weekend, I hung a beautiful set of wind chimes just under the eaves near our front door. Now when I come home, I can’t help but smile when I hear the calming sounds that they make. The soothing echo really helps clear my mind and chase away my anxieties before walking through the door. So before starting my day job, I look forward to coffee and before starting my at home job, I look forward to hearing the wind chimes. They’re simple little therapeutic additions that really help.

    • I think those rituals can be important. Whatever’s going on with work, I take a break and drink a cup of coffee with my husband when he gets home from work and the kid gets home from school. What’s happening with everyone today? What’s the plan for the rest of the day? Okay, back into the cave. πŸ™‚

  20. I read an interesting work-from-home strategy on Lifehacker last year.

    This one guy leaves his house in the morning, walks around the block, re-enters his house and goes straight to his home office to do work. At quitting time he does the same in reverse.

    He said adding this “commute” helped him to separate home time from work time.

  21. My partner and I have an online business that we share, though I do the majority of the computer work because he is a Luddite. Plus, I have an online store of my own, and I pick and sell antiques locally and write freelance. He has an outside job also, and I’m completely focused on our personal businesses and keeping the house straight and the pets alive. It helps that all our businesses are things that we really enjoy, so them taking up a large portion of our time isn’t as bad as it could be. Sometimes it feels like I’m being completely consumed by them day and night, but when I start to feel crappy about that, I remind myself that I was lucky enough to be able to leave my soul crushing corporate suck job to focus on things that I love. And that I’m especially lucky that I can feed myself by doing so.

    Don’t even get me started on the whole idea that the fact that I work from home and am self employed somehow translates to other people as “I sit at home all day on the couch in my sweatpants eating bonbons and have absolutely nothing better to do than listen to your problems/help you with whatever.” I can’t count the number of times that someone has asked me to do something that I’ve told them I can’t do, only to have them reply “But, it’s not like you have a JOB”. I always want to scream I HAVE FOUR JOBS, FUCKER!

    One thing I will say is this. Get dressed. Get up in the morning, take a shower and put your big girl clothes on, even if all you have to do that day is stay home and do computer work. I have found that doing this makes me feel more like an adult with a home business and less like a slacker.

  22. Yeah, this is where I have a problem.

    I’m a double major in Creative Writing and Classical Civilizations, and own my own web design business. I have the worst separating business from fun on my one and only computer, the desktop, and my “office” is in my bedroom. I have a hard time with motivation because the spaces are essentially blended together, but I think I’ll try some of these strategies, especially getting dressed. I feel less productive to work in my pjs, but because I don’t have an outside job, have less inclination to change into big-girl clothes.

    Probably one of the bigger problems is just sticking to a schedule: I can sticky note-it with the best of them, but can’t seem to follow through, then I scramble at the last minute for deadlines. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  23. One winter was so snowy that I basically worked from home for 2 months. My company had a VoIP (internet) phone system. I have no idea what technical wizardry made this possible, but all I had to do was unplug my office desk phone, bring it home, and plug it into a power outlet and my internet cable and it rang with my work calls. The great thing about that was that at 5 pm, I’d unplug the phone and instantly be unplugged from work. Highly recommend that. Also, I’d make myself take proper lunch breaks where I’d go sit in the living room (I usually worked at the kitchen table) and read my book and eat a sandwich for a half hour, instead of stuffing my face while still working.

  24. I’m a graphic design student, and my entire apartment always seems to become my studio, because my studio has become a storage room. I’m currently working on the same laptop for absolutely everything, but lookin at upgrading to a desktop and netbook combination. I’ve always thought of, if I were to have a workspace that’s got to co-exist with my living space, I’d curtain it off with a pretty fabric curtain or room divider to make smaller space while adding to the ambiance of the room. That way, I don’t have to look at the computer when I’m not working.

  25. Separating personal time from work time is something that we should keep reminding ourselves. A lot of people tend to not realize the effects of not separating the two. For single people, their social life could be affected so bad and they’ll start losing some friends. For married ones, their married life could be in jeopardy and their relationship with the kids could really hinder or affect the way they see life as what it is now. I love the idea of creating your own office space, because it’s basically the best thing to do to create a perfect work and life balance. There are more other ways to achieve that, and one example is to consider renting an office space near your house, so that there will be a complete separation of work life from personal life.

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