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How to have harmonious relationships when you work from home?
Thread poster: NataliaAnne

Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Headsets et al Feb 22, 2013

Agree with Tomás and Samuel about the usefulness.

I have trouble with interruptions both at work and at home.

When at work, I am also doing another job (director and co-teacher at a language school) and am often consulted. I used to have a deal that if my door was open, I was accessible, but this is not an environmentally friendly idea in winter, when I have been known to put the heater on in my room and don't want it escaping into the great outside via the corridor. S
... See more
Agree with Tomás and Samuel about the usefulness.

I have trouble with interruptions both at work and at home.

When at work, I am also doing another job (director and co-teacher at a language school) and am often consulted. I used to have a deal that if my door was open, I was accessible, but this is not an environmentally friendly idea in winter, when I have been known to put the heater on in my room and don't want it escaping into the great outside via the corridor. So now I put my headphones on by way of a "do not disturb" sign (I have a window into my room from the corridor so can be seen). I often listen to music through the headphones, but always. Of course, if I simply want to listen to music, but want to be available to my colleagues, then it's tricky.

At home such respecting of boundaries is much trickier. Try telling a primary aged boy that you are not to be disturbed. Plus it's not fair. I spend enough time away from home without infringing on valuable home time. But there have been times where I have had to take on a heavier work-load than I would like and the boys have learned, not necessarily to respect that I am at work, but the difficulty of communicating with me if I am cut off by the headphones. Putting music on increases the barrier, but just having them on seems to create sufficient barrier.
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Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
Italian to English
my two cents Feb 23, 2013

I work out of the home, too, and I never have this problem (even though my husband is retired and home all day, every day). I get distractions, receive phone calls and the whole works but I have one major difference: I practically never am working on such a deadline that I can't finish in time if I chat 10 minutes. I work on lots of projects, and lots of really big ones with gzillion files but I pace the work so that I almost always deliver early. That has gotten me lots of extra work but it als... See more
I work out of the home, too, and I never have this problem (even though my husband is retired and home all day, every day). I get distractions, receive phone calls and the whole works but I have one major difference: I practically never am working on such a deadline that I can't finish in time if I chat 10 minutes. I work on lots of projects, and lots of really big ones with gzillion files but I pace the work so that I almost always deliver early. That has gotten me lots of extra work but it also ensures that if need be, I will be free to talk, run out on an errand or whatever.

And to be perfectly honest, sometimes the distraction does me good. When I am struggling with something, I usually find the right answer after an interruption. Seems like taking a step back gives you a different take on the question and finds the right solution. Sort of like when you do a crossword puzzle and can't find an answer; pick up the puzzle the next day and it is sooooo obvious.

Eileen
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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:21
Member (2004)
English to Italian
I have 4 children... Feb 23, 2013

the youngest is now 12. I have my own office at home, but they are at school during the day, so it's usually ok. They do come into my office occasionally with questions, requests and demands. I don't mind. I like seeing them, as long as they don't go over board (if they do, I just tell them I'm too busy right now!). Half terms and summer are different. My wife works shifts, so I look after them. Since I don't have to do all the school stuff in the morning, I start early and make up for the time ... See more
the youngest is now 12. I have my own office at home, but they are at school during the day, so it's usually ok. They do come into my office occasionally with questions, requests and demands. I don't mind. I like seeing them, as long as they don't go over board (if they do, I just tell them I'm too busy right now!). Half terms and summer are different. My wife works shifts, so I look after them. Since I don't have to do all the school stuff in the morning, I start early and make up for the time I'll spend later cooking their lunch/dinner, driving them somewhere, or whatever is required. I think you need to learn to be very tolerant. I have and, although sometimes it's difficult, I think I've mastered the art of juggling... Of course, when they were younger, it was a total nightmare. But, I've survived... Collapse


 

Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:21
English
+ ...
Maybe you need to put on your thinking cap. Feb 23, 2013

In English, the idiom "to put on your thinking cap" means you are going to think very hard or seriously about how to solve a problem.

So perhaps, instead of a white lab coat, how about a thinking cap?

Here's a basic model:
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In English, the idiom "to put on your thinking cap" means you are going to think very hard or seriously about how to solve a problem.

So perhaps, instead of a white lab coat, how about a thinking cap?

Here's a basic model:
http://www.cafepress.com/%20thinking_cap_cap,339398402?cmp=pfc--f--us--140--339398402&utm_term=339398402&utm_campaign=74&utm_medium=productfeed&sourcecode=affiliate&utm_source=froogle&pid=6673073&utm_cp_signal=74&productid=339398402

This one might make your message very clear:
http://www.zazzle.com/thinking_cap_hat-148543267900030570 DO NOT DISTURB

and this one may solve the problem of going to the kitchen....
http://www.fredflare.com/APARTMENT-kitchen%20&%20bar/Thinking-Cap-Drinking-Hat

By the way, this guy has invented a thinking cap that apparently actually helps people think "better"...at least test subjects wearing them performed better at solving a math problem than subjects not wearing them:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20031404-71.html
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Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:21
Spanish to English
+ ...
Brilliant idea :) Feb 25, 2013

Suzan Hamer wrote:

In English, the idiom "to put on your thinking cap" means you are going to think very hard or seriously about how to solve a problem.

So perhaps, instead of a white lab coat, how about a thinking cap?


hahaha. That's brilliant!


 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:21
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Another thought Feb 25, 2013

I do sympathise with you. I've experienced these situations in the past, both as an employee and as a home-working freelancer, but no longer, thank goodness.
From what you say, it seems that other members of the household are usually at home during the day when you are working. Couldn't you ask them to answer the phone and the door and take messages, and only refer the matter to you if the call is for you and is in some way urgent? This might make them feel "involved" in your work and "use
... See more
I do sympathise with you. I've experienced these situations in the past, both as an employee and as a home-working freelancer, but no longer, thank goodness.
From what you say, it seems that other members of the household are usually at home during the day when you are working. Couldn't you ask them to answer the phone and the door and take messages, and only refer the matter to you if the call is for you and is in some way urgent? This might make them feel "involved" in your work and "useful" to you, instead of thinking that you see them as a "nuisance"?
I agree with others that you should keep your office door closed, install a kettle etc. in your office, plus a jug of water to keep it topped up, tea, coffee, milk, etc. to reduce the number of times you need to go to the kitchen. I suppose they still might pounce on you when you need to go to the toilet. I wouldn't go as far as suggesting you also install a chamber-pot!
Stick to your guns, don't weaken, and best of luck!
Jenny
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NataliaAnne  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:21
Portuguese to English
TOPIC STARTER
A door that’s respected and a bit of tolerance both work wonders Feb 25, 2013

Jenny Forbes wrote:

I wouldn't go as far as suggesting you also install a chamber-pot!

Jenny


That did make me giggle – thanks!

I must have been having a particularly bad day with lots of distractions because it all seems to have settled down now. Just having a jug of water and taking a pot of tea to the office rather than a single cup already makes a huge difference. Apart from this, I’ve reiterated that having my office door opens means that I can answer questions/address concerns while working and that a closed door means I can only be interrupted in life or death type situations. When my door was closed on Friday, people left me a couple of little notes in the kitchen, which worked well in terms of communicating important information but not interrupting me. I’ve also made it clear that I’m fair game if I’m in other parts of the house. E.g. Sometimes if I’m just writing invoices or messing around with formatting, I take my laptop to the kitchen or lounge and it doesn’t bother me if people want to chat.

Probably the most important change for me has been recognising that being really closed off while I’m working means I need to make more effort with family at other times. When people know that I connect with them whenever possible, it creates more tolerance of the times when I’m not available.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this discussion and shared their experiences – this was just what I needed!


 

Miranda Drew  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:21
Italian to English
what about errands, etc. Feb 18, 2014

I have the problem that certain family members, who are in the office all day, ask me to do a million errands, as if I am not actually working when I'm working from home. I've had talks about this several times, but it does not seem to get through...

 

Kuochoe Nikoi-Kotei  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 23:21
Japanese to English
Less availability? Feb 19, 2014

How about turning your phone off when you're working and only answering your email when you're good and ready to? It might take a few days, but they'll get the hint.

 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:21
Member (2018)
French to English
Depends! Feb 19, 2014

When I worked from home I actually considered being able to run errands in between draft and proof as one of the advantages.

I would sometimes pick up a registered letter from the post office if I was going that way anyway, but if it involved queueing for hours then I would say no.

My partner would ask me to pick up some shaving cream, then I got the wrong one because they didn't carry the one he wanted. So I told him he could pop into the store next to his office. ... See more
When I worked from home I actually considered being able to run errands in between draft and proof as one of the advantages.

I would sometimes pick up a registered letter from the post office if I was going that way anyway, but if it involved queueing for hours then I would say no.

My partner would ask me to pick up some shaving cream, then I got the wrong one because they didn't carry the one he wanted. So I told him he could pop into the store next to his office.

It's certainly an advantage when you have builders or plumbers in, and the guy to read the meter...

What sort of errands do they ask you to do?
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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:21
English to Polish
+ ...
... Feb 19, 2014

Hey, Natalia. Well, freelancing, like anything else, has its ups and downs. People not respecting your mental workspace and feeling like you don't respect their family or friendship ties to you is one of the downsides.

Basically, what you need people to realise – and they really have no excuse here – is that just because you work from home doesn't mean your work is any less for real. You're not an amateur or semi-professional or someone who can be available all the time for 'mor
... See more
Hey, Natalia. Well, freelancing, like anything else, has its ups and downs. People not respecting your mental workspace and feeling like you don't respect their family or friendship ties to you is one of the downsides.

Basically, what you need people to realise – and they really have no excuse here – is that just because you work from home doesn't mean your work is any less for real. You're not an amateur or semi-professional or someone who can be available all the time for 'more important things' like errands or chitchat. This is especially true for business hours.

On the other hand, even God took some rest on the seventh day. There is time for work, and there is time for family. They have some more rights in evenings and especially during the weekend – try to imagine things from their perspective, I guess. Also don't let your work eat you all up or you'll end up burned out (and indeed without meaningful relationships with family and friends). The seclusion of freelance translators in their homes is a real problem and a heavy burden to carry. Many are off the rocker in personality terms, perhaps due to not going out, not meeting people. Unmarried ones have it really hard.

Personally, I let people know that I'm at work. If they don't get it and keep insisting on needing something from me which they wouldn't bring up if I were out in an office, I ask them if they actually want me to tag along for the errand but default on a contract, pay a penalty, inflict damages and lose my reputation so that we can do the errand precisely when they want me to. Perhaps too harsh on my part, but it does hit home. Nobody in your family or among your friends really wants you to default on your jobs.

Being persistent in refusals generally helps the impression of you really being at work sink in, while being unduly flexible (i.e. with you losing sleep or delivering insufficiently double-checked work for want of time) does the opposite.

This said, being a freelancer in charge of your own time does give you some room for things unavailable to normal salaried workers, like meeting up in morning or early afternoon hours, taking coffee breaks together or even a full day off. I sometimes take a day off to visit my family or get in touch with my buddies or see a girl I like.
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