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Working From Home – Set a Schedule and Learn to Say “No”

February 19, 2011 By: Yvonne A Jones Category: Business - Entrepreneur, Business - Home-Based Business

If you work from home you invariably have multiple responsibilities.  You may be a work-at-home-woman or a work-at-home-man. Your reasons for working from home may differ, but ultimately the goal is the same: To earn an income from the business activities you engage in from home.  Note that I mentioned “from home.”  While home is the base for many of us, our actual work activities may take us away from home for chunks of time. On the other hand, some jobs may involve spending the majority of time working in your home office.

Set a Schedule and Learn to Say “No”

The challenge for many of us at the end of each day is answering the question,  “Where did the time go?” People who work from home usually fall into one of two camps: 1) Those who set a schedule and try their best to stick to it 2) Those who ‘go with the flow.’

If you have a schedule, do you stick to it or do you find yourself constantly engaged in non-business activities during designated business hours?  Do you find it hard to say “No” to various requests from friends and family?  An honest response to “Where did the time go?” may reveal that your fear or reluctance to say “No” to others could be contributing significantly to valuable loss of time that should be spent in your business.

It’s important to note that your fears of offending others may be  based on your perception.  It may not necessarily be based on the reality of how others will respond when you explain your priorities.   It may surprise you to know that many of your friends and relatives really have no understanding of what you do from home and therefore are unaware that you have designated specific times to work.

An example of this could be a close relative who asks you to do something at 4:00 p.m.  You’ve, however, scheduled 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. as laser focused time to work in your business before your family gets home.  Do you say Yes, with resentment, or do you explain that you’d be happy to help out at another time during the day, but this is time you’ve scheduled to work?

Our fear of saying “No” is closely tied in to our desire to please others and to keep them liking us.  The purpose of this post is not to encourage selfishness, but to remind those of us who work from home that it may necessary to say “No” to others when you have a schedule for your business.  Help others to respect your time and your schedule while you’re working from home.

5 Comments to “Working From Home – Set a Schedule and Learn to Say “No””

  1. When I first started my business in 2000 I had my mom calling all the time until I finally told her to STOP and ONLY call when it’s important. She didn’t get it. LOL! She does now because I don’t answer or return her calls until I have that free time. Honestly I do that with everyone. I have on my recording that if I don’t answer it is because I’m either with a client or working on a project and to please leave a message. People seem to like that.

  2. Sheena Prailleau says:

    Great point it is so easy toi get distracted at home that you must set a schedule and learn to say “no” no matter how tough it is

  3. Melanie Kissell says:

    The best response I can give to your wise and wonderful advice, Yvonne, is to say that I end up gauging each situation individually when it comes to saying “No”. And my personal set of circumstances warrants that I maintain absolute flexibility regarding my work-from-home business.

    I’ve tried (desperately) to consider everything I’ve got going on in my life and set up specific blocks of time when I’d prefer no one interrupt me. Sometimes I can honor those chunks of time and sometimes I simply can’t.

    When my phone rings, it may be the hospital calling to say a new postpartum patient who’s breastfeeding is struggling along, in tears, and would like to speak with me. So when my offline duties call, I’ve got to drop what I’m working on and take the call.

    And I don’t need to tell any moms out there how your children (no matter their ages) can put a wrench in the works of your work-from-home days. 🙁 When they’re little, it’s little problems. And when they’re bigger, it’s bigger problems.

    All in all, saying “No”, letting your voice messaging system take your calls, and setting a regular schedule to work your business is the best idea and gives you the greatest chance of getting things accomplished and reaching your goals.

    For the rest of us …

    We may be taking baby steps and have to deal with a lot of setbacks, but we’ll eventually get there. 🙂

  4. There are times that we need to revisit how , when and why we say “no” to the destractions of our work day. It truely is OUR problem and not the problem of those who ask for things or need our attention during our work day. We need to learn to not answer the phone, door, visit, e-mail whatever to remain focused on our day’s work. That work day from home should not be different than any other day in a regular office. We all need to put value on our own time, productivity and tasks at hand. We really do all need to say no more often. It can be a good word for us.

  5. Leona, Sheena, Melanie, and Veronica: You all shared some really valuable points. Although in every situation general recommendations may be made, these can only every be guidelines rather than rules because everyone’s situation vary. As Melanie indicated she may be called out to work and I can relate to that as has happened to me this past week and weekend. However, the principal focus is that we have to ‘train people’ to respect our time when we work from home, and we may have to test the waters to see what works best. Leona trained her mother 🙂 and it may not have been easy at first.

    Sometimes I find it’s easier to let calls go to my voice mail because I can hear the annoyance in friends voices if I answer and say I’m working or getting ready for a conference call etc. It’s as if they’re offended that I can’t speak with them. Do you ever get that reaction? If you find that happens, let the machine do it’s work for you. 🙂


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