Working from home. Is there anything better?
You wake up, and getting ready includes putting on slippers and pants.
You walk to the coffee machine like every other working American but the difference is, that you don’t have to leave the house.
But let’s just say, you’re not the only one working from home. So is your significant other.
My name is Megan Peters and I am a Realtor in the Chicagoland area. My fiance and I bought a house a year and a half ago and are loving the space and the hurdles that come with homeownership, but sometimes getting out of the house deems to be a challenge. John has a home office in our 3rd bedroom and my office is…well every other room it seems. We have a 1600 square foot home and there really is no true quiet space.
We have different schedules because we do wildly different jobs. He is in sales, which means when he is home and not on the road, he is in his office 90% of the time. We have contrasting personalities which also means our work days are laid out variously. He wakes up, the same time, every day. Drinks his coffee, has his “over the phone meetings”, sends emails, eats lunch, more meetings, more emails, all within the four walls of his office.
I, on the other hand, schedule my day around the deals that I am working at that time. A lot of realtors “time block” their lives, meaning each hour and minute accounted for, but this has always been hard for me to accomplish. It just does not fit my personality. The reason that I love my job is that I have the luxury of doing things my way. People call me crazy and wonder how I get things done. For me, I am a to-do list person. I lay out my life one week at a time and add to it if things come up. If I plan more than that, things become inauthentic and scripted.
The hardest thing about working from home is separating the two. Work and Home.
For example, in the morning, I drink my coffee from the comforts of our bed while I get up to date with my emails, local news, new leads, and social media followers. Part of my social media campaign is that I acquire new leads that are interested in buying or selling Real Estate. Naturally, I need to call and follow up with these leads. So while I am on the phone, speaking with potential clients, having a huge interruption-like your fiance abruptly opening the bedroom door and saying something- can be distracting. By the way, this happens on more than one occasion, and I am also guilty of doing so.
This is where separating the two things, work and home, comes in handy. This is especially hard for me because of my morning routine.
DUH. IT’S SIMPLE.
Stop doing work, over coffee, in bed!
Is it that simple?
We have come up with a few systems that help prevent these interruptions.
One of the main key factors is that you need to treat wherever the other person is working as an actual office. The space that they are taking up is a “cubicle” if you will at a normal, 9 to 5, person’s office. You can’t always get away from a coworker’s loud conversation in a normal office. So what do you do? I ask this because, well I have never worked in a normal “office”. We get up and walk somewhere quiet, typically our basement or patio outside.
The second key piece is to develop a good communication system. Ours started off as a joke. We both use our cell phones as our “meetings” with clients so how can we communicate that we can “meet for lunch” 50 feet away in our dining room, in 15 minutes? Anyone remember AIM? RIP.
Since we both use Gmail, we use Hangouts. The perfect tool for people that are wanting to “chat” with their email open. This unspoken rule has drastically improved our interruptions issue. Now we communicate 85% on this when unsure whether the other is on the phone or not.
But even more importantly, the other person is still at work.
This notion is hard to remember at times when something important comes up. We are also planning a wedding, so there are days that we get completely derailed with wedding decisions and two hours have completely disappeared.
I would have to say though, the most difficult part about working from home with your significant other is saving the “updates from the day”. Work and home life are truly not separate, so it is hard to make the end of the day interesting. You already know each other’s day, more intimately than you probably need to know. It takes a few fights and open communication about what the other person needs to get to a place where this occurs naturally. Sometimes I work from a coffee shop, or Barnes and Noble to get some separation. Too much of any one person or thing can be detrimental. The other thing we make sure to do is if he is home from a business trip, we cook and eat dinner together at the table. We both enjoy cooking and trying new foods, so we make sure to do this together.
I will say, that I have become accustomed to having my “neighboring cubicle” be my fiance. The reason we work in our relationship translates as to why we both can work from home. Communication and Support. Some people have a hard time not bringing work home, but we know this idea all too well, since our work is literally home with us all the time.
Because of this, we may work a little later some days, but when it is time to turn off and enjoy each other’s company, we do. Phones are left on the charger unless we know something will be coming late in the evening that has to be handled. But when the work day gets a little slow, and the day is beautiful, we can go out for a mid-day date. I think I can speak for us both when saying working from home can be challenging, but the rewards more than out way the trials.
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