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 October 5th, 2007

What’s Really Important to You?

Being a stay at home or work at home parent means sacrifice for most people. It is often a statement that you value your family above money or your career. Not always, but often.

But even in your day to day life you need to think about what is most important to you. If your children are in a lot of activities that interfere with family time, is that the right use of your priorities? Of your children’s priorities? Is it right for the family?

Sometimes the right answer is not easily seen. If your kids love their activities, for example, you might not want to make them give those activities up, even though they result in such a loss of family time. On the other hand, taking a break might be the right thing to do.

Similarly, you have to balance working at home with working on housework. How important is a clean home to you in comparison to having a successful work at home business?

My own balance can be a bit off at times. If I let housework slide a little too far because I’m feeling inspired in relation to my business, there will quickly come a time where I will have to work much harder on housework than I would have if I had simply kept up.

And of course there is no substitute for time with the kids.

One of the key things I try to do (don’t always succeed, but try), is to minimize how often I deal with a particular item. Mail, both electronic and paper, needs to be sorted and disposed of quickly. The majority may go in the trash, but the rest really should be read immediately, and a decision made. The fewer times I have to interact with a given item, the better.

Keeping your life organized and focusing on what really matters to you is a great help when it comes to perspective. You will know what matters the most to you and what you really don’t care all that much about.

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 September 18th, 2007

Do You Forget Family Time?

Working at home has always been a major time commitment for me, and I’ll readily admit that sometimes I struggle with balancing it with family time. How do you make sure you have enough of it?

A part of it comes from planning. If you don’t have a schedule it can be very easy to overdo, to feel that you have to keep working, even when your family needs you.

Your day to day routine can help you keep in touch with your family. You should always be taking time to be there with your family.

It can start with dinner. Eat together regularly. Daily is ideal, with the television off. Prepare dinner together. I got my kids started in the kitchen very young. They don’t have to be very old to tear lettuce, after all, and how they help changes as they grow.

That’s one of the important things to remember about family time, in my opinion. It is not just about having fun. It’s about living together and helping each other.

But I do try to get out with my family. We try to have family outings regularly. Our ideal is once a week, but other parts of life often get in the way of that.

A simple thing to do is pick a place and go hiking. It’s free and good for all of you.

Of course, at times you do have to cope with your work getting out of hand. Business picks up and you really need to work extra hours. Getting enough family time is tough.

In part you will need to decide how much work you should be taking on. Sometimes you have to just deal with it, but other times it’s a matter of knowing how to say no.

If it’s getting really tough, it may be time to consider a little childcare help. That may not be the reason you work at home, but it can be of great assistance at those times when you just really need to get things done without interruption.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll have family or friends who can help much of the time. In my case, that would be my inlaws. Retired, local grandparents are really amazing.

Other times you’ll have to pay for help. If that’s what it takes, you may have to be resigned to it.

Once you’re done with the busy times, make sure you commit to some good family time again. You do not want overwork to become a habit.

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 6th, 2007

Are You Overcomplicating Your Home Business Schedule?

Great time management skills are vital to running a successful home business. If you aren’t paying attention to how you use your time, you are probably wasting a lot of it.

But if you overdo it you can make things worse.

There are some basic things you should do to manage your time well when working on your home business. You should have a time to check your email, then leave it alone as much as possible. You should know how much time you can spend on forums and blogs. You should know how much time you need in order to get everything that you need to get done, done.

But sometimes you can overdo it. When you forget that flexibility is one of the key benefits of running your own business it is very easy to do this.

If you say you’ll check email from 9-10, participate in forums from 10-11 and so forth, you’re probably overdoing the schedule. You may not need all that time for each activity every day, and if you find scheduling that carefully hampers your ability to change tasks when you finish early, it’s probably a problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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 February 17th, 2007

What's Hardest About Working at Home?

When you’re just starting out working at home or even if you’ve been doing it for a while, you need to consider the downsides to working at home. It’s not all fun.

I’m fortunate in that things are working out well for me as a work at home mom, but there are times that I realize I’m letting things get out of hand and working too much.

Working too much is a very common hazard. It’s just so EASY to go back to the computer and keep working. The kids might want to play, you might really need to get dinner going, but there’s just that one little thing you really, really want to get done.

When I catch myself at it, I make an effort to do better. I take more time with the kids. Today we went to the park for lunch, for example. Didn’t quite turn out how I hoped, but overall we had fun. Read the rest of this entry »

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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