Self Help FAQ

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How do I get people to respect my time when I work from home?

Posted on | September 7, 2017 | No Comments

It happens all the time. You tell people you are self-employed and/or work from home. They think, “Oh, great, there’s no boss! I can call anytime!”  Or they say, “Great! You can come help me move” or “let’s go to the beach–you don’t have anyone to answer to!” Basically, when you work from home, a lot of people don’t have respect for your time and will interrupt you if they can get away with it. That “if” is a clue: IF they can get away with it. Don’t let them. Easier said than done, though, if you’re a people-pleaser/confrontation-avoider like me. But with a lot of help and advice, I learned how to deal with this problem, and here’s what has helped me:

  1. Truly and steadfastly work on your business/project as if your life depends on it, because it DOES–that’s how you’ll pay your bills and put a roof over your head. As the saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding.” If people SEE that you actually have a business and you are making money, that’s one way to build respect.  Allowing interruptions from those who think your time means nothing is a catch-22, if you think about it: their interruptions will keep you from building/running the business; if you don’t have the time you need to build/run the business, you won’t have the proof they need to see to respect your time.
  2. Turn off all devices that may distract you from your work when you’re engaged in it. If you feel anxious you may miss a call or email or that certain people will feel insulted or suspicious, you can leave a voicemail greeting/automatic reply email that stipulates when you WILL be available and for how long.
  3. Don’t feel guilty about cutting out interruptions from other people. You have a business to run/project to complete/test to study for.  These things won’t get done if you allow other people to control your time.  The only person who will take care of YOU is YOU, and the only person YOU can control is YOU. It’s the OTHER person who should feel guilty for slowing you down or stopping you in your tracks on the way to success.
  4. Be understanding and empathetic toward those who become offended or irrational about your unavailability during work hours. But stand your ground. You can say that you understand that they are upset about your unavailability, that you care about them, but that you must devote a certain amount of time to your work. And then tell them you will make time for them when you are available. This is called “setting boundaries.” Boundaries are important for protecting ourselves and looking out for our best interests.  It may be uncomfortable setting them, but it’s what helps us develop in our lives without letting others run our lives for us. It’s a healthy way to live!
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