The challenges of working from home

As most people already know… I work from my home… currently in a little corner not nearly secluded enough, while impatiently awaiting the completion of both the new cabin and my new, detached office.

I’m not a patient woman. I’m just not.

And the recent challenges of working from home have been… well… nearly more than I can bear.

Like last week, when I had a call from a reporter at the Wall Street Journal. During the middle of my phone interview on the direction I felt the Virtual Assistant Industry was taking, my husband returned from picking up building supplies and thought it would be cute to bellow from the front door “Honey, I’m HOME!”

I was not amused. And this is one of many such challenges. When you work from home, you have challenges. Work from ANYWHERE is challenging, but there’s a whole unforeseen tangled bunch of them when you try to work, live, play and raise children from the same locale.

I love working from home. Really I do.

I enjoy being here when the kids get home from school. We have already managed to survive the training period with the kids. They know when I can talk, when I’m working and how to tell the difference.

My new husband, however, finds this to be his own challenge. He apologized profusely when the interview ended and I explained (through clenched teeth) what had happened.

He said, “I try to listen to see when you are on the phone and to not disturb you… but you were not saying anything.” I told him that sometimes, albeit seldom, I listen when I’m on the phone — and I don’t talk the entire time. Sometimes I actually take a breath.

I suddenly felt the overwhelming urge to explain to him in grave detail how important it was to me to have a separate office… NOW. So I did. He looked at me like I’d lost my marbles. I’m sure they weren’t lost, just temporarily rolling around on the floor.

However, I reminded him of the bean incident. Wherein, he came in from working on the cabin and pulled a Tupperware of beans from the fridge and — before heating them up to eat — decided he should come into my office, while I’m on the phone and stick them under my nose and ask me if they smelled like they were still good.

Now, to his credit, he did so very quietly. But, I was still on the line with a client.

And I didn’t react well. I did manage to waive him away until the call was complete. But then, I wasn’t so calm.

Now THESE are the challenges that you never hear about when you are reading everything you can find about working from home.

You hear how you will have more “quality time” with your kids. A lie.

You hear how much more comfortable it is working from home than from anywhere else… often a lie, because without clear home/work boundaries, you end up being pulled in opposite directions by work and home duties constantly.

You are told how much more “balance” your life will have. A lie – it CAN have more balance, but that’s hard work and won’t happen by itself. It just won’t.

No free lunches.

And for those TYPE A personalities, we can succeed financially working at home, but maintaining a life APART from work is a feat. And it requires daily reminding and practice to accomplish. And it’s not like “riding a bike” – you quit keeping balance in the forefront, you quit meditating on it, and it’s gone. You have to start over and build it all again – from scratch.

Now, back to the beans and the bellowing…

I’ve succeeded in teaching the children to listen before speaking to me when I’m working, to ask if it’s ok to talk with me, and to understand and quietly leave my office area when if I shake my head “no.”

But, I’d never considered the challenges in teaching another adult what’s ok and what’s not ok when working from home. Especially an adult to whom you enjoy giving your undivided attention. So I act one way when we are dating, and when we get married and move in together, we are busy playing house – it’s not until several months later that these things start to add up…

Like the banging that sometimes occurs in an adjacent room without warning — but always in the middle of a call.

And making someone older than myself understand that I don’t read lips well in the first place, and to attempt to do so while carrying on a phone conversation or an IM or when writing an article makes me… well… let’s just say CRANKY.

So, I’m now trying to find exactly the right way to get INTO that office now… before I go completely insane or the husband decides to trade me in on a less… ahem…cranky model. :O)