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The Myth of the Home Office

Stuck inside on a rainy day - home office

On working from home

Officially, my business is such that I can take it along for the ride, wherever I go.

In reality, I’ll happily work from coffee shops, hotel rooms and other random locations, but I’m much more comfortable in my home office.

In part, my preference is due to the fact that I can get other things done while I’m working — or at least procrastinate a little more effectively.

I can get a head start on making dinner, actually run a load of laundry and otherwise be sure that my home and family are taken care of.

It’s not an unusual situation, but it’s one that’s grown out of a myth.

The myth is particularly seductive to women: we can get all of our work done in the comfort of our own homes and still have a great home life.

But it is a myth…
One of my goals for the next year is to get my office out of the house. I’m not planning to start meeting with my team in person or anything like that, but I want a location where I can’t take time away from work to handle home matters — and where I can’t take time away from my family to work.

It’s far too easy

to sit down at my computer after work hours are officially over. I may tell myself that I’m just going to check email for a few minutes, but the next thing I know, my husband is telling me it’s time to go to bed.

Work-life balance is hard to come by, especially when you like what you do.

Any entrepreneur can sink hour after hour into a project. But when you work out of your home, keeping things in balance is much harder.

Don’t work where you sleep

One of my college roommates spent most of her time in our room in bed. She wasn’t usually asleep — it was just the most comfortable place for her to study, read or use her laptop.

She wound up developing insomnia, leading her to spend even more time in her bed doing anything but sleeping.

She went down to the student health center to get something to help her sleep and the doctor there asked her to change her study habits.

She started going to the library and using a couch there for her reading and other work, making her bed’s only function as sleeping furniture.

It took a little while, but she was able to start sleeping regularly again without any pills.

The problem was that, in my roommate’s subconscious, her bed had become associated with studying.

When she sat down on it, her body automatically assumed she was there to work. We get into similar mindsets about our homes when we work in home offices.

Any time we’re in the house or in our office, we subconsciously think we should be working.

Is our office really what we want our home to be?

Image: David Thompson via Flickr, Creative Commons

Regular contributor Thursday Bram offers content marketing through Hyper Modern Consulting, as well as more traditional writing services. She’s also the co-creator of Constructively Productive, the blog that’s bringing perspective to productivity. You can find Thursday on Twitter.

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  1. Accurate. Smart. Direct. Love it.

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  2. Great post, thank you. As a woman business owner and mom, I really appreciate having a routine, leaving the house, going to the office, interacting with my staff, having a separate place for the professional Joanna.

    On occasion, however, I find that working from home is great, like when I need to crank out a proposal, when I’m blogging, etc. When my son is at school and it’s just me at home, it’s heaven.

    I totaly agree that you should NEVER, EVER work where you sleep. It’s bad feng shui. The bedroom should be a place of calm and rest, not full of work papers and electronic devices. We don’t even have TVs in any of the bedrooms!

    Thanks for a thoughtful post!

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  3. While I appreciate the post and its sentiment, I’m not sure I agree that working from home somehow makes it any easier to “sit down at my computer after work hours are officially over.”

    Thanks to VPN and webmail — which most companies have nowadays — and blackberries, iPhones, etc., it’s all too easy to check email from home whether you work from home or not. And let’s face it, most of us fall into this trap regardless of where we normally do our work.

    This is really more a universal issue of having to force yourself to keep work during work hours and devote home time to family issues whether you work from home or at an office. And I think those who manage to keep the two separate are probably better workers even if they aren’t putting in extra hours on week nights or weekends.

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