Since You’ll Be Home All Day…

Just the other day, I read a post over at All Freelance Writing on the misconceptions people can have about the freelance life.

Among these was the lack of respect people in our lives can often have for our work hours.

It hit a chord with me as, just the other week, my husband had chewed me out for not taking out the garbage that day. “You were home all day!” he said.

It was true. I had been home all day but, in all that time, I had barely even left my computer, as I had multiple projects on my plate, and not a moment to spare. His presumptuousness made me angry, and I stewed over all the other times him or my mother had asked me to pick up stamps,  or run to the supermarket, or do the laundry…all with the assumption that I now had the time to spare, because my commute merely consisted of the walk from the bedroom to the computer room, and I had no one to answer to but myself.

Little did they know that I was a tougher taskmaster than any of my previous bosses had been, and it was because I had to be if I wanted to stay afloat. Unfortunately, it’s tough to change the misconceptions of non-freelancers, but we can at least attempt to do so by setting limits:

Make Your Office Off-Limits:

I know it’s a luxury not many of us can afford but, if you are able to, set up your work space in a separate room, with a door that closes, and a lock…a padlock!…and a large, imposing sign that says: DO NOT ENTER, OR YE SHALL FACE THE PENALTY OF (A SLOW, PAINFUL) DEATH.

Yup. That should do the trick. For the rest of us (those without extra rooms, or even doors) at the very least claim a corner of your living space for work-only activities. And ask that others maintain the sanctity of this space.

Screen Your Calls:

It would be ideal if you were to set up two different phone lines for work and personal calls. And then only answer the work line during your self-imposed office hours. For those of us unwilling to spend the money on an extra phone line, however, Caller ID is magical, and more than sufficient. The more times your mom gets sent to voice mail, the more chances she has to learn that personal calls during business hours are not okay.

Define Your Work Hours:

Speaking of self-imposed office hours, you should set those up, for a number of reasons. Number one: It will keep you from sleeping late, taking extra long “lunch breaks,” or generally slacking in any other of a number of ways. Number two: It will force you to stop. And step away from the computer. At a normal hour. Instead of remaining hunched over your computer as days pass, and your family and friends disappear in a wink of resentment, and you get carpal tunnel syndrome, and forget to sleep. Ever.

Number three: You will be able to clearly explain to others when it is okay for them to call, and when it is not. And who knows? Perhaps the rigidity of a strictly enforced schedule will legitimize your business in their minds, helping them to make that mental leap they’ve thus far been unable to make.

When All Else Fails, Make Compromises:

Your parents feel neglected. Your husband misses you. Or perhaps your work life is adversely affecting their downtime. To give you an example, our office space is attached to our living room. There’s no door. Only a standing screen. Which makes it difficult for my husband to have friends over, or unwind in front of the TV, when I’m hard at work, rushing to meet a deadline.

We’ve found several ways to handle this. For Christmas, I bought my husband wireless headphones, for use when he wanted to watch TV while I was trying to concentrate on work. My husband also (permanently) lent me his laptop, which I now use in the bedroom when he has people over. I got myself a hand-me-down bed tray from my grandparents’ house, and now have a pretty cushy setup on my bed. (It’s great when I’m not…um…tired.)

What have I missed? Please do share your own tricks for getting family members to respect your space, time, and career. I could always use a few more.


  1. […] we’re already talking about home offices and the sanctity of your space, I thought that I’d highlight the following for […]

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