Last Updated April 3rd, 2018

Should You Ever Let Unexpected Guests Interfere With Your Work At Home Day?

Should You Ever Let Unexpected Guests Interfere With Your Work At Home Day?

Have you ever had unexpected guests show up on a day you need to work at home? It can really mess up your productivity. If you want people to take your work at home job or business seriously, you usually have to enforce your work hours strictly. But are there times you should give in and just be with your unexpected guests? That depends on a few factors.

I had this situation recently, although it was entirely my own doing. I ran into a friend at the store and invited her over spontaneously. She moved out of the area a while ago, so I very rarely see her. It was a snap decision to change my schedule so that we could catch up for a while.

That’s not always a good idea, but it worked for me this time. We had a great visit, and I worked extra another time. That’s the nice part about being self employed. I can get away with that. Not everyone can.

How Strict Is Your Work At Home Schedule?

If you work for someone else and you have a strict schedule, you probably cannot afford to let unexpected guests interfere with that. With some companies, it would mean risking your job. That’s almost never worth it.

If someone shows up wanting to visit and your schedule simply won’t allow it, say so or don’t even answer the door. No matter how some people may try to guilt you, you are under no obligation to play host just because someone else has the time to visit.

If you have a lot of trouble with unexpected guests coming to your door when you need to work, consider investing in a Ring doorbell or similar. This can make a lot easier to see if you want to answer the door at all. Keep it muted if you can’t have background noise, of course.

Can You Adjust Your Schedule?

If you can change your schedule so that you have time to visit with your unexpected guests. As I said above, that’s what I did so I could visit with my friend.

If you can work later in the day or on a different day without creating problems for yourself, you can decide if you want to visit with your guests more than you want to work at that moment.

I do not recommend doing this often, as you will create an expectation that of course you will drop everything. That’s bad when you can’t change your schedule. I doubt that I change mine for unexpected guests more than once a year.

Do You Think You Can Spare The Time?

Even if you can adjust your schedule, can you really spare the time? Be honest with yourself.

If you have a deadline, that time has to be made up somehow. If you don’t have a deadline, will adjusting your schedule make it harder to reach your goals?

Be very careful in how often you spare the time for guests when it wasn’t planned ahead. You don’t want anyone thinking this should be a routine thing.

When you can spare the time for guests, it’s one of the perks of working at home. When you can’t, it’s the same disadvantage as any other job.

Set Time Limits

If someone comes over at a time you consider it reasonable to call it a break time, make sure they understand that. Explain that it’s just like your break time at any other job – you have maybe 15 minutes for most breaks, or however much longer if it’s a meal break.

Then enforce those limits.

Time limits can be more difficult to enforce than a flat out “no.” You know how conversations can carry on. You may have to be as strict with yourself as you are with your guest.

Make Plans For Later

If now is not a good time, but sometime later is, let your guests know. Just tell them “I’m off work at x, and I’d love to see you then,” and send them on their way.

This may be easier said than done, but making your work hours clear and enforcing the idea that you are truly busy at those times is important. You’d do the same to someone who interrupted you on the way to an outside the home job, right?

Can Someone Else Entertain Them?

If you aren’t home alone while you work at home, maybe the other people there can entertain the guests.

This is why my kids can have friends over while I work without disturbing me, provided the parents aren’t along. If the parents want to stay and chat, I need to be in a situation where I can afford the distraction.

I don’t have to be on the phone to work, so children playing is only so distracting. It helps that my kids are old enough that I don’t have to supervise, and the garage is set up to be a lot of fun. That keeps them well away from my office most of the time.

If your spouse has company, you may want to be polite and say hello, but you should also explain if you are not to be disturbed. Your spouse could do that as well, of course. If you do a job where background noise is not allowed, make sure the rules are well understood, as well as the reasons for them.

Can You Work And Chat?

This won’t work most of the time, especially if you have to be on the phone or otherwise undistracted. But if you can work and chat with your guests, you can be at least a little productive.

My mother recently commented on how I manage to work even with distractions around. That is one of the great parts about blogging – I can listen to the conversations around me but not take part unless I want to. Some routine tasks are even easier to handle while chatting with others.

Chatting with guests will slow down your productivity. Don’t fool yourself about that. But if it’s worth it to you and doesn’t create a complete mess of your work day, do it.

What If The Unexpected Guests Don’t Want To Hear “No?”

Some people are really bad at taking “no” for an answer. They don’t tend to take “I’m working” much better, if at all. It can be very difficult to get this kind of person to respect your work hours.

If you can get away with not answering the door, that’s one way to handle the situation. This won’t always succeed – some people will keep knocking or ringing the bell a long time. They may even call or text to insist that you answer the door.

Start with a conversation to explain why you can’t drop everything for them. It may or may not work, but it’s usually the best place to start. Not everyone understands that working at home is the same as having any other job. Help them learn to respect that.

If that isn’t enough, find someone you can enlist for help. Your spouse, a sibling, inlaw, or mutual friend may be able to get things across better.

If all else fails, be consistent in your refusals. One “yes” will make your life that much more difficult. It will take time to make stubborn people understand that they need to respect your work hours just as they would anyone else’s. The fact that you’re at home must not be allowed to make any difference that you don’t welcome.

This Goes For Texting Chats Too

These days, you may have more trouble with friends and family who want to chat all day on text or other apps, rather than visit in person. The issues are much the same, however. You have to learn to say no when it’s too distracting to your workday.

Some people may not like it, but if you can’t text at the time, a quick “I’m at work, can’t talk now” reply should be good enough. Once you’ve said that, ignore the person trying to get your attention. I know some people feel it’s rude to ignore a text, but if you’ve made it clear that it’s not a good time, the person ignoring that is the one being rude.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated August 14th, 2013

How to Have a Productive Day When You Just Aren’t In the Mood

How to Have a Productive Day When You Just Aren't In the Mood

Just about no one feels like going to work every day, even when you love what you do. Sometimes you just want a day off. When you work at home that’s often possible, but it’s not always a good idea if you’re serious about earning a living. How can you push yourself to have a productive work at home day when you’re really not in the mood to work?

Do a quick work out.

Get your body moving and you may feel better about getting to work. A quick walk around the block or a bit of time on any exercise equipment you may own (I have a Total Gym that has come in handy at times) can improve your mood. A bit of exercise can satisfy that need to feel as though you’re procrastinating, yet make you more productive in the long run.

Take days off regularly.

Don’t try to work seven days a week, every week. There may be times that this is necessary, but it shouldn’t be your life. Take time off every week, especially when you can do things with your family.

Write a to do list.

A to do list can help you quite a bit when you aren’t quite in the mood to work. Use it to guide your day’s work, so you have no doubt about what you most need to get done that day.

Break big tasks into smaller ones to make it easier to check things off. It’s easier to be productive you if continue to see that you’ve made progress. If a task is too big, you may not feel like you’re getting enough done when in fact you’ve done quite a bit.

Take breaks.

Taking regular breaks from work is something you should do even when you are in the mood to work. A break refreshes your mind, and you may get more done with breaks than you would without breaks.

Get inspired.

What inspires you to work? What do you hope to achieve in the long run? Think about why your work matters to you, then get to work.

Tell someone else what you plan to get done today.

Sometimes internal motivation just isn’t enough. You need to have an external push to get things going. Tell a friend or family member what you’re going to get done, post your goal on your Facebook wall, or otherwise tell someone what you’re going to get done today. Knowing that others expect you to reach a particular goal can give you that extra push. Who wants to explain why you didn’t reach that goal you shared? Just don’t waste too much of the day updating people on your progress.

Start with a small job.

What’s one of the little things you need to get done, something not all that overwhelming? Maybe just a 2-5 minute job. If you’re having trouble getting in the mood for work in general, it may help to do some small thing, insignificant in itself, that will get you to do any work at all.

Remind yourself why you’re working at home.

Sure, you know why you’re working at home, but do you really think about that reason or just take it for granted? Inspire yourself by thinking about why you do what you do.

Think positively about your work day.

Yeah, you’re not in the mood to work. Reason doesn’t matter, it’s just the way you feel. It’s a negative thought process all too easy to fall into.

Change it around. Think positively about your upcoming work day and how productive you’re going to be. Then take action.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 10th, 2013

How To Defeat The Procrastination Monster When You Work at Home

How To Defeat The Procrastination Monster When You Work at Home

If you want to successfully work at home, there’s a monster you must defeat. No, not the cute monster you call your child, at least not every time you want to work. I’m talking about the monster known as procrastination, that gobbles up your work time in such insidious ways. If you want to beat this monster and be productive, you had better prepare.

Discover the Monster’s Lair

First you must figure out where your monster comes from. What makes you procrastinate?

Procrastination monsters love hanging around your children, and there’s only so much to be done at some ages about what procrastination children cause. You’re usually best off finding ways to work at times your kids are less likely to need your attention.

Procrastination monsters love your computer too, especially if you go to sites such as Facebook, Pinterest or anyplace where you can connect with friends or play games.

Whatever you do that leads to procrastination, do what you can to avoid it. You may not be able to entirely avoid the things that make you procrastinate. If you market on Facebook or Pinterest, for example, sometimes you will need to go on those sites, but need to find ways to keep your visits effective.

Think About Why You Want to Do What You Want to Do

It’s not enough to know what makes you procrastinate. You need to know why you want to work. What makes this important to you?

Plan to Defeat the Monster

The procrastination monster has difficulty interfering with a well planned day. Set goals, know what tasks you need to get done, and what times you do your best work. Commit to getting them done and avoiding the things that make procrastination easier than working. Make your goals something you can reach in a reasonable time as well as longer range goals. Daily goals have as much a place in your plans as annual goals.

Many people find it helpful to write their goals down. There’s something about checking things off a list that can be very motivating.

Consider finding an accountability partner. It’s much harder for the procrastination monster to get you if you have a friend to help you keep on track. No one likes to say “I wasn’t productive today” to someone who really cares how well you did.

Review Your Progress

Take a look at how you’re doing. Are you reaching your goals? Is the procrastination monster winning or losing? Some things are going to work for you. Some things aren’t. Looking at your progress can help you figure out what still needs to change.

Review your progress regularly. What works at one point may not work in the future for you.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated May 11th, 2011

Where Do You Find the Time to Work at Home?

If there’s one thing that’s hard about working at home, it’s finding the time to actually work, especially if you set your own schedule. It’s way too easy to get distracted if you aren’t strict with yourself and truly dedicated to the work you’re doing. Even with that dedication, however, it’s sometimes hard to get in the hours you need for working.

One of the most effective ways to find time to work is to recognize the time that you’re wasting during the day. We all do it, and some downtime is certainly necessary. Working at home successfully, however, requires a different balance.

TV Time

The time you spend watching television is perhaps one of the simplest to limit or give up. It’s not productive, and you may find that there are a number of shows you can give up with minimal regret in order to earn a living from home.

You may not need to cut back on all the time you watch television, but the more you do cut, the more time you can spend on more productive activities.

Online Time Wasters

The internet is another place where many of us waste a lot of time. Checking email, forums and social sites takes more time than it has to. They’re fun and you can tell yourself that you’re being productive when they relate to the work you’re doing.

The key here is to keep things under control. Don’t check your email or favorite sites for hours on end or over and over again throughout the day. Set times and time limits for these things. They’re tools, and used correctly they won’t suck up excessive amounts of your day, but benefit you the way they should.

Checking your stats can be another time waster. There are times when it’s perfectly appropriate to check your stats throughout the day, but much of the time you can keep a much lighter eye on things. Stats only need to be frequently checked if there’s something you’re looking for in them, such as how a paid campaign is working out.

I don’t mean ignore your stats, of course. You do need to know how things are working for you. Many times you are just fine looking things over once a week or so.

Online research can be a danger as well. It’s very easy to get sucked into reading more than you need on a particular topic, or get dragged into something unrelated but fascinating. Pay attention to how much time you’re spending on such things when you’re trying to have productive work hours.

Other People

Other people are often huge distractions when you work at home. Some you can’t help but pay attention to, such as children who need your attention at that instant. You just have to deal with those situations.

People who call you on the phone or drop by for a chat, or the spouse who hasn’t learned to respect your work hours may be another matter. You want to be social and pay attention to the important relationships in your life, but you need to have them respect your work hours from home as they would respect your work if you were elsewhere.

Clutter

Clutter is a time waster in that it slows you down when you can’t find things. Since my kids tend to put schoolwork on my desk, sometimes that includes my mouse and keyboard. That one is a small issue, but it certainly adds to some of the minor frustrations of working at home.

Getting Your Time Under Control

If you’re struggling to come up with productive time for working at home, you must come up with a plan to help you. You have some ideas of what’s causing the problem, now comes the time to fix it.

1. Set time limits.

For certain activities, set time limits. This is particularly important for things that get your attention for longer than they should, such as social websites. Set a timer if you need to and stop that activity once it goes off.

2. Have a schedule.

Many people find a written schedule of some sort to be extremely helpful. Know what you need to get accomplished each day and about how long you intend to spend on it.

A schedule can also help you figure out when the best times are for things such as running errands, doing housework and so forth. Try to schedule these things when you’re less likely to be productive in your work.

3. Plan with your family.

Talk to your family about your work needs. Find ways to fit their needs with your own.

The younger the children are, the less they’ll be able to help you with this, but you can still figure out when you can work while they’re young. Naptimes, after bedtime and any time the kids are in school or elsewhere are good times for you to work.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Last Updated June 10th, 2008

How Much Housework When You Work at Home?

There are a lot of challenges to working at home. You have a lot to get accomplished in the day and many distractions. It’s easy to have very high expectations of what you will accomplish on a particular day, and it’s not always realistic.

cleaning the floor

Worse, you probably feel guilty at times for focusing on work rather than on keeping a clean house. You’re home and you may feel like it’s a part of your job to keep that house clean. Traditional duty of the stay at home parent (especially moms) and all that.

But being at home should not mean that it all falls onto your shoulders. You need to look at what the appropriate divisions are.

The struggle often comes from it being unclear how you should divide the work up. If you feel like you aren’t contributing because your home business isn’t bringing in much money yet, you’re going to feel bad if the hours you work keep you away from keeping a perfect house. Yet you can be working long hours trying your best to make it work, and simply not have the time or the energy to do it all yourself.

I know I’m good at giving myself a guilt trip every time the house is a mess and I feel that I’m too busy to clean it up. Sometimes I think feeling guilty is simpler than feeling good about what I’ve achieved. After all, I can always compare myself to people who are doing better.

Somehow it seems to be easier for most of us to compare ourselves to those who do better than to recognize what we have achieved. There are all the things we dream about accomplishing, after all. Looking at what others have managed to do as we struggle along is just the way things go.

One thing all families should do is figure out who will be responsible for what. Working in or out of the home shouldn’t matter so much as the fact that one is working. That’s not always the reality of people’s expectations, but it’s a nice goal.

Get your spouse involved. Get the kids involved. Don’t let all the housework fall on one pair of shoulders.

Figure out what you will do at which times. Housework that needs to be done can be scheduled just like anything in your home business.

How well all of this works can tell you a lot about how supportive your spouse is of your working at home. If you both work a similar number of hours, yet you’re at home and expected to do a significantly larger chunk of the housework, you may need to have a talk to make sure that what you do is being taken seriously. Sometimes it’s not. Other times it will just be that your spouse hasn’t quite realized how much work you’re doing.

And if you’re earning enough and feel so inclined, hire a maid service to come once a week or so to do some of the heavy duty cleaning for you. This can be really helpful. If you’re earning enough it will be well worth the money. Sometimes it’s worth it even if you aren’t earning that much but need a break from feeling like you need to get that housework done.

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be 'affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.

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Disclosure: Home with the Kids is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. I also review or mention products for which I may receive compensation from other sources. All opinions are my own.