Business blunders of the bathrobe brigade
By Lisa Earle McLeod www.forgetperfect.com
Wouldn’t it be great to work from home? You could come and go as you pleased; you’d always be available for your family; you could work in your bathrobe. No boss to yank your chain, no office politics, nobody stealing your Diet Coke from the company fridge. Just you, merrily toiling away in your bunny slippers, totally in control of your time and your life. Yea, right. Working from home might seem like the ticket to a life of blissful balance. But for every cubicle-dweller dreaming of half-days in their bathrobe, there’s a real-life, stressed-out crazy person staying up all night cursing at their computer, answering emails at dawn, and plunking the kids in front of the TV to allow them to get some actual work done. I’ve worked from a home office for most of my career and it’s clear to me that, in the past, I limited my own success, and drove myself nuts, with these classic home office mistakes: 1. Productive procrastination – The laundry, the bills, the kids’ science projects are all calling your name, and in many cases they’re easier to do than your actual job. Checking them off your list may feels like an accomplishment but, trust me, nobody’s going to pay you for doing them. Self-discipline is the bane of a home office dweller’s existence – but if you can’t ignore the mountains of laundry and focus on your paying gig, you and your tidy whites may wind up living under a bridge in a box. 2. Garage sale grotto – You agonize over the perfect knobs for your kitchen cabinets, yet your home office is the ugliest room in the house. I foolishly spent years hunched over a hand-me-down desk in a room as dingy and unappealing as a prison cell, until someone wisely pointed out that I was spending more awake hours in my grungy home office than in any other room of the house! Get a real desk and, if you’re feeling charitable towards yourself, spring for paint and decent lighting. 3. The solo syndrome – My anecdotal research reveals that this is a woman thing. While men will hire help and get the resources they need to be successful, a woman will slave away playing shipping clerk, coffee flunkie and travel coordinator from her kitchen table because she doesn’t think she deserves the help, space – or even a moment to herself – until she’s making big money. I’ve finally realized – the most valuable asset you have is your own time. 4. IT share drive – IBM wouldn’t ask their employees to share a computer with the person in the next cube. You shouldn’t have to wait for a two-year-old to finish her Pretty Precious Pony game before you can start working. Don’t wait until your kids accidentally delete your Power Point before you get your own machine. 5. 23/7 workdays – You eat at your desk; you parent from your desk; there’s always one more thing that needs to be done, especially if you’re a woman. Maybe it’s our multi-tasking minds, but men seem to know how to turn if off, while we don’t. Case in point – I’ve been working at home for over a decade and I have yet to have a male colleague email me late at night. The only people still at their desks at 2 AM are women – usually mothers who spent all day taking care of everyone else, and are only now getting down to “work.” All I can say is, there will always be more work, but you don’t get a do-over with your family, friends or leisure time. As for me, I hope to take all this excellent advice shortly. Just as soon as I throw in some laundry, glue on Jupiter’s moon, and finish these last few emails.
Lisa Earle McLeod is a nationally recognized speaker and the author of “Forget Perfect” and “Finding Grace When You Can’t Even Find Clean Underwear.” Contact her or join her interactive blog at www.ForgetPerfect.com. .
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