The Art of Making Personal Time & Space When You Work at Home

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AppsYou could call Joli Moniz a serial entrepreneur. She juggles various companies she’s founded as well as charitable ventures. ?She is owner and founder of international tour company, A Vontade Tours, LLC, and founder and creative director of interior design/photography firm Joli Moniz Design. She is also executive director and board member of For Life Inc., a nonprofit that promotes education and wellness in Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Cabo Verde, West Africa. Add to this the various independent projects she works on. “It is a challenge to keep all the balls in the air,” admits Moniz, who runs most everything out of her home.

This challenge is made even more difficult by family and friends not understanding Moniz’s fluid and flexible schedule as well as her being able to separate home duties from work responsibilities.

“One of my biggest issues of working at home is setting a schedule that allows me to tend to work and actually stick to it. When you have your own business, you no longer have an external boss to answer to ? you must be accountable to yourself. And when working from home, you do not have the structure that comes with an occupied office environment,” says Moniz.

TIP: “Depending on your work, you may need to go into a quiet place, like the bedroom when others are out in the living room or kitchen and literally put a ‘do not disturb’ sign on the door,” says business coach Vanessa Lindley, CEO of the Lindley Consulting Group LLC, who works at home. “You must advise everyone in advance of the rules and why it?s necessary to not disturb you while you are working. You should also adjust your social media setting to show that you are not available. This way, people are not trying to instant message you while you are working.”

Another tip is to act as if you did have a boss. In fact, you are working for your clients. How would a boss feel if you are not working on schedule or focusing on your job?

Getting family and friends to respect your work time and space is also difficult. “This continues to be my biggest challenge and frustration. Much of my work is done from home and some of my traditional 9 to 5 shift minded friends do not understand that. And despite several explanations, they STILL do not know what it is I do or what occupies so much of my time and energy, and how I don?t always have the luxury of lunching with them or meeting up for drinks and fun conversation,” shares Moniz. “And some of my works falls at night or on weekends. There is always a lot of work waiting, so any free moment is an opportunity to get some of it done. Fortunately, most friends and definitely my family are extremely understanding and support me all the way. As long as I am happy, they are happy.”

TIP: Lindley suggests taking a hard line. And that’s what she does. “I have posted a references to my work life on social media in an effort to advise everyone what my work life is like. I’ve advised friends and family, including my small children that sometimes my work seems invisible, but it?s not. I’ve advised friends that if I can’t show up at their job unannounced and hang out, then neither can they,” she says. “As a last resort, I send calls to voice mail during work hours, respond to texts later and say, ‘I was working.'”

Making “me time” is nearly impossible for ?work-at-homers? as there always seems like there is something to do. Since work is so near, many telecommuters and entrepreneurs feel ?why not do a little more work instead of exercising or going to the movies??

But free time for yourself is vital, really, to your success. ?What I struggle with is carving out free time for myself ? I know it is critical to recharge or I will burn out, but doing so is so hard. My biggest issue when it comes to family and friends is setting boundaries: setting times when I am inaccessible just as if working in a traditional setting simply so I can get my work done. I may be working from home but I still have time crunches and deadlines to meet,” explains Moniz.

“I would like to begin working a little less organically and to create more of a regimented schedule for myself. And I?d like to adhere to it. I would like?? for some of the close people in my life to understand my crazy schedule and give me the same respect they would a person who works a traditional 9-5,” she says.

TIP: Treat yourself as an appointment. Actually mark on your schedule an appointment with yourself–and don’t cancel or reschedule it. Realize your free time is just as important as your work time. If you are not healthy and happy, then how can your business be?

Maintaining a thriving social life is also a hurdle for many. How do you fit in friends and family when you have a ton of work to do? “It is hard. I miss out on many lunches and some weekend getaways with close friends, but I make the effort to meet up with them as much as possible, even if sometimes for a shorter time span than we?d like. I also show up on the important occasions such as birthdays; those are non-negotiable. And thanks to technology, even if not always physically with my friends and family, I remain abreast of the happenings in their lives and try to root them on from afar and let them know I am always here if they need me,” says Moniz.

TIP: Have scheduled breaks and tell your friends and family when these will be and inform them these are the times you can interact.

“Life happens whether you are at work or not so if your family absolutely needs your attention during work hours develop a plan for them to communicate with you without disrupting. This could be as simple as sending a text message or setting up a family instant message account. This kind of arrangement is even more important if your job requires consistent phone time,” says Cam Finley, founder of HomeIsWhereTheJobsAre .com. ?”When friends don’t quite understand that you don’t have time for visiting during working hours, explain to them that though your work happens at home, it is still work and must be respected as such. Then, turn the tables–ask how their management would react if you stopped by their job for a visit and a chat during working hours.”