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For those of us who work at home there are some unique challenges that we need to overcome.

It can be difficult, particularly in the beginning, to define a workday in your home office. What time should it start and end? How will my family know when I’m working? Maybe I can do some laundry and house cleaning at the same time…

When working at home I’ve discovered that clearly defined boundaries are absolutely necessary, both for yourself and those who may find themselves inadvertently around you throughout your workday. Here are some of the major points that you will need to hash out:

  1. Sharing the workspace: if you are lucky enough to have a separate room and computer for your home office you are already one huge step ahead. But, if your “office” is in the living room on the one and only computer in the house, you will need to define when other members of the household can use the space and equipment without jeopardizing your workday.
  2. Your work hours: Setting regular work hours is crucial for both yourself and your family. If you have work hours laid out then everyone knows when you’re working and when they should not disturb you (this will help very much with #1 listed above). And, if you have work hours laid out you should try your best to STICK WITH THEM! I know it’s great when you get on a roll and you just want to keep going, but if you do your family/personal life will go downhill fast, not to mention your health.
  3. Weather is not a factor: One of the bonuses of working at home is that if there is a blizzard you don’t have to worry about a horrible commute! On the other hand, when summer comes around you have to be disciplined and stick to your work hours. Yes, the sun looks very inviting, but if you start goofing off as soon as the weather is nice your business will ultimately suffer.
  4. Resist the chores: Sure, there may be a pile of laundry just begging to be put through the wash, or the rug could use a good vacuum, but the midst of your work day is not the time to do it. Again, if you start to spend time on chores instead of work, your business will suffer.
  5. Communicate with your family: If you live on your own, great! You will have nobody to answer to but yourself. As for the rest of us, we need to make sure that we communicate with our family about our business. Make sure they know what your business is about and what you’re spending your day doing. In the end they will know that you really are spending your days at home actually working, and therefore should not be expected to be doing the household chores at the same time, or be expected to give up the computer so they can just “quickly look something up” in the middle of your workday. The more they are involved and understand what it is you are doing, the more they will appreciate and respect your work at home.

It sounds simple, I know, but I speak from experience when I say that these issues will certainly crop up at some point if you are working from home. To fully enjoy your telecommuting experience, follow these few pointers and your home office will run much more smoothly!