The Doctor Is In

Working from home is not for everyone. Some people need the office environment to help keep them on task. Some need the daily personal interactions. Some people need set office hours.

Check that. Even home officers need set office hours. It's one of the keys to success and sanity (which I'll attest to after 6 years of trial and error). One of the traps that new home officers can easily fall into is sitting back down in front of the computer after dinner or once the kids are in bed or after that 3rd glass of wine... Never a good idea.  Before you know it, your job can go from the intended 40 hours/week to 80 hours/week, and the truth is that not much more work is actually getting done.

One of my biggest Ah-Ha! moments was when I finally set home office hours. I step into my office at 8 a.m. and I turn off the lights of my office by 5:30 p.m.  There are few issues that will ever come up that need my attention after that time. By defining my hours, several things happened. I became more productive during my work day because I knew there was an end point. I was more engaged with the Man of the House, and we not only had more quantity time together, it was better quality time because I was not constantly glancing toward my office door, itching to check my emails just one more time. And now that kids are involved, I'm so accustomed to my closing time routine that I can focus fully on Bunny and Beads in our few precious hours together during the week that they're not in daycare.

Will there be exceptions to the rule? Of course. There are projects that come up that require extended hours. And as everyone now has a Smartphone, it becomes increasingly more difficult to not check emails at all hours. However, the effort of keeping office hours has a big pay off. I feel less guilt about being a working mom because the evening hours belong to my family. And I feel less guilt about stepping away from work because I know I gave it my all in the appropriate time frame.

A friend of mine who runs a business from his home actually posted his office hours above his desk after being confronted by his family that they never saw him, and that he was missing out on some of the important moments of his 3 kids' lives. After the "posting of hours," if he worked beyond those hours, one of his kids would sneak in and point to the end time, which made them both laugh and kept him accountable. He says it's one of the best decisions he's made as a father.

Even Lucy knew the importance of being able to flip her sign over to say, "The Doctor Is Out."

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