Do Not Disturb SignRecently, I was chatting with a friend who was lamenting, wishing, and hoping that she worked from home rather than an office.  I assured her that she should be VERY careful for what she wished for.

Home offices are not always what they are cracked up to be!

Home offices are sort of like out-of-town visitors who never seem to leave, an over-bearing mother-in-law with never-ending opinions, or that nagging zit that just will not seem to go away.

While it is very convenient when my kids are home sick or off school for conference day, when it is pouring rain, or I am having a bad hair day, a home office has its very own downfalls.  It can be like a black hole.

A place where you get sucked into and cannot seem to find your way out EVER.

First and foremost, it is extremely hard to set boundaries with a home office similar to an overbearing mother-in-law.  When you decide to venture into another part of the house, you may feel your home office pulling at you to come in its confines.

Second, you have to make and get your own coffee.  Now, I know most of you do that anyway in your ‘offices,’ but who doesn’t want someone to bring them coffee?  Forget the corner office with the view, I just want a hot, steaming cup of joe brought to my desk on request.  One can dream.

Finally, it is all too easy to get sucked into hours at your desk when you go in to answer one quick email.

How can we not forget that leftover birthday cake from the weekend calls your name from the kitchen while you skip lunch in your home office.

As small business owners and startup companies, many of us need home offices either because we just cannot budget for a ‘real’ office yet or we require the flexibility in work hours that it provides us…I think we can agree – a home office is both a blessing and a curse.

So, I am sharing the Home Office Rules for Dummies for Smarties, Small Business People, and most of all mom/dad/grandparent entrepreneurs.

  1. Set office hours.
  2. Stick to said office hours.
  3. Get dressed (even if it is yoga pants). No robes or pajamas allowed.
  4. Block your time the night before.
  5. Schedule a Lunch Break even if it means you eat on your front porch.  Prepare your lunch the night before so you can grab it and enjoy your small window of time.
  6. Get a Do Not Disturb sign for your door.
  7. Use the Do Not Disturb Sign.
  8. Clean up your office once a week.
  9. Shut your office door at the end of your day (even if that means 11 p.m.)
  10. Don’t ever think you can just sneak into your home office for a few minutes.  It never works that way.  Refer back to #2.
Go ahead – Print them out.  Hang Them Up!
I am guessing that if you set treat your home office like a ‘real’ office, your productivity will go WAY up!