Working from Home? Learn How to Separate Your Work & Home Life

Running a business out of your home can be a great experience and a tremendous advantage, but there are also some drawbacks and pitfalls that most entrepreneurs don’t foresee when they embark on their home business venture. Most of these drawbacks involve adjusting to the working environment.

Whether you started a home based business or you temporarily have to work from home, there are many things you can do to set yourself up for remote success!

Ultimately, the biggest mistake you can make is to jump right into it without taking much thought for how you will manage it and what your days are going to look like. You will definitely need to separate your work from your personal life, even though those two things will be happening in the same place. This is how to do it:

Effects of Working from Home

Understand the Psychological Effects of Working from Home

For those who have never had the experience of working from home, most people see it as a very attractive prospect, everyone’s dream job. Like most “dream jobs”, reality tells a different story about it, once you’re actually in it. In the first place, once a thing that you see as enjoyable becomes your job, the basic condition that it’s now a job immediately takes some of the fun out of it.

It’s like a person who loves to cook deciding to open a restaurant so that they can do what they love for a living. If they love it enough, that person can still enjoy cooking to some degree even when it’s their job; however, now they are forced to do that thing which they love. Cooking isn’t going to be quite as fun anymore.

In much the same way, someone who decides to run a business from home because they love being at home will probably not have the wonderful experience they expected when they start actually doing it. Anyone who works from home will tell you that living and working in the same place can drive you nuts after awhile.

Variety really is the spice of life, and this applies psychologically for your work, as well. As you will be living, working, eating, sleeping, and playing in the same space, working from home can completely remove that variety that spices up your life, which could wreak havoc on your mental frame.

Cabin fever isn’t just a novelty. For home business owners, it becomes a serious concern for mental health pretty quickly. That, in turn, affects your productivity because when you can’t concentrate due to this particular type of stress, it will be a challenge to get work done.

Personal Life is Necessary

Acknowledge that Separating Work & Personal Life is Necessary

Keeping these two spheres of your life separate is Working From Home 101. The first thing you have to realize is that if you don’t take measures to separate work from your personal life, it will become a problem. It affects some people more than others, but it’s guaranteed that this is an issue you’ll need to address to some degree.

When you just mix it all together without compartmentalizing the work sphere at all, you will eventually start to lose it a bit. The problem is that since you believe working from home is the greatest job ever, you don’t think you’ll need to take any special action to deal with the work environment. If you accept right away that it’s an unconventional working environment with different circumstances than a normal job, then you’re going to be better prepared to handle it.

Working out of your home is not for everyone; it requires some strong mental discipline. Not to worry because you can absolutely be successful working from home, and this is what we’re going to go over in this post.

Working Space at Home

Your Physical Working Space at Home

In the interest of portioning off the part of your life which is dedicated to your business, this is where we’ll show how to create the space in your home where you’re physically going to be running the business. One of your first priorities should be to set aside a room or area in your house that you use exclusively for work.

It’s a rookie mistake to work in different places, really any space around your home, because you figure it won’t really matter. You don’t have an office designated for you in another building somewhere. But that’s exactly what you need to have at home now.

It’s easy to get mixed up in your head when you mix up all the common rooms in the house with your work space. Your subconscious mind gets confused about whether you should be doing work or not, and it also leaves you open to be distracted by all kinds of things. This may not be as much of a problem for some people, but just about all of us need a specific workspace so that we can remain productive.

Think of everything you would have in a regular office at a regular job, everything you need for work and nothing else, and make sure your home office has that. Consider this space sacred. It should never be a shared space that is also used by your family, or for any other purpose besides work. Minimize distractions as much as possible.

Also, here’s another helpful point. Be sure that your family knows when you will be at work, so they know when you can’t be disturbed unless it’s important. You may ask, “But isn’t one of the benefits of working from home supposed to be that you can be close to family?” Of course. That’s why you should make some concessions in this area, but work and family time should still remain separate because the two cannot mix.

Time with family should ideally be planned and set aside, when you can break away from work at certain times and spend some quality time with them. You should also be aware that, unfortunately, working from home does not give you significantly more time with family. Even though you’re at home, you’re still at work.

Getting Out of the House

Getting Out of the House

Getting out of the house regularly is one of the best ways you can keep work separate from your personal life. It’s up to you how often is appropriate for you to break away or work in a different venue, but as a rule of thumb, you should get out at least once a day.

The most obvious way you can make room for this is to go out for lunch whenever you get the chance, which is a perfect opportunity to meet up with family or friends. Incidentally, social contact is another thing that’s essential for a positive sense of well-being when you are stuck in your house most of the time.

Another way you can set aside some yard time is to plan events here and there, or really anything recreational, after work on certain days of the week. Or even better, decide to go out somewhere spontaneously–it’s just fun to do things spur-of-the-moment. Go see a movie, a concert, theatre, or anything you enjoy doing. This is especially important when you work from home.

Limit Your Working Hours

Limit Your Working Hours and Stick to Them

As you probably surmised already, self-management and discipline is the name of the game when working from home. As a first step towards that, it’s a really healthy practice to set strict working hours for yourself.

As a business owner, it’s very easy to just keep working all day and then well into the night because you have a vision for the company for which you’re ever-reaching, and there’s always a ton of work to be done. Also, no one is telling you to stop.

You have to be conscious of the potential dangers for your health when doing this and limit the habit of overworking yourself. If you set your hours from 7am to 6pm, for example, then you have to make yourself stop at 6pm every day. This not only provides structure and balance for you, but it helps a great deal with your family life.

Running a business can be hard on a family, as you are no doubt already aware. Sticking to the work hours that you set gives you the freedom to set aside time for family and prevents the business from taking over your life completely. Obviously, as a business owner, you’ll have to put out fires from time to time during probably every day. Apart from that, though, it’s crucial that you stick to your work hours.

The takeaway here is that running a business out of your home is probably not what you expect it to be, unless of course you already know what to expect because you’ve had the experience before.

When you carefully design and manage your workspace, your time, and your personal well-being, however, working from home can be a wonderful environment for running your small business.

What’s Next? Check out all of the articles in our series, Starting Your Home-Based Business:


Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.

Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.

StephanieWorking from Home? Learn How to Separate Your Work & Home Life