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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Distractions While Working at Home


Beware: Personal Rant Ahead...

No matter what you do in your work at home business, whether it is strictly writing, researching or any combination of tasks, the last thing you really need is distraction.

If you are in the middle of a project and you get one of those annoying phone calls, knock on the door or a jack-hammer banging away, you lose whatever train of thought you had going.

Today, a good semi-retired friend called. He seems to be having problems with his computer. Nothing major, just that he can't figure out how to get online with his new service. The first phone call wasn't a problem. I answered his question. Thanks and goodbye.

The second, I was in the middle of setting up a post on one of the other blogs. Stopping in the middle of that, I answered another stupid question. Thanks and goodbye.

By the third call, I was on yet another set-up on something else. Again, I had to stop what I was doing to answer the same stupid question for the third time. I started to get upset, raising my voice and asking if he could ever think for himself or is this just a recent problem. Goodbye.

It's not like he is paying me for the information, then I probably would be a little more receptive. This is all done as a favor, gratis... at least he says thank you.

I hate to get angry with a good friend, especially when he needs my help. The one thing he has to understand is that just because I am here all day, doesn't mean that I have nothing better to do than answer his questions.

Although I have done favors in the past, he has more than done his share for me. So, I try to let him know that when I am working, only call me if it is important. Not to call just because I know the answer and it's easier to call me than to call his service provider.

I am trying to think of a nice way to tell him, unless he wants to pay for my services like everyone else, don't call me while I'm working. As I said, I don't mind doing favors, but not when it costs me money, or time when I could be making money.

Update: The same friend called twice (caller ID) while writing this, I ignored the calls.

How do you handle good friends or family disturbing you when you are trying to work?


Related Posts:
Overwhelming Work Load
Unwanted Solicitation Calls
The Balancing Act... Work and Home

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6 Comments:

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Lyman Reed said...

This is a tough one for me. It isn't the phone calls, it's the family...

In the past, when I was on the internet, it was purely for entertainment purposes. Even if I was in one of my spurts of "Hey, I could make money doing this", my wife knew (and had good reason to) it wasn't serious.

So now, it's pretty tough to say "Hey, I'm WORKING". She's being great about it, but I'm not sure that she's sure the seriousness is there yet.

 
At 3:29 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

Hey Lyman,
First, let me thank you for adding me to your BlogRoll. If you don't see your link in my Favorites, it's because I haven't published yet.

That out of the way, I understand that it's hard to tell someone that you are actually working after they have seen you play games etc on the computer.

Once they actually see the effort you put in, and there is some reward (read money), they will come around. Sometimes it takes a little while, but if they understand YOU, they will be supportive.

Joe

 
At 3:49 PM, Anonymous DavidC said...

"...ever think for yourself, or is this just a recent problem"

That's funny.... (although maybe not to him)

I think it helps to treat your time in your home office just as you would as if you were working for someone else. In a very real way it is not your time, it belongs to your business, and you have an obligation to be there, undistracted. If you were working for a company and your friend called you wouldn't have a problem saying "Hey, I can't do this right now, I'll call you after work".

The problem comes in when you don't clearly differentiate between work-time and personal-time. It's a matter of clearly communicating to others that this is business, and that some things need to wait until after business hours.

Of course, that makes the assumption that you're creating "after business hours" for yourself, which many self-employed people do not. Life becomes a jumble of personal and business time all mixed together, with no clear delineation between the two. That’s a big problem, for you and your friends and your family.

The final thing I’ll say is that good friends (and wives) can be hard to come by. No business is worth losing either one of them. Ever.

 
At 4:04 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

Hey DavidC,

My friend did get the joke, but I had to explain it... LOL

I'm sure you know how difficult it is to say no to friends and family, but I agree, you need to differenciate between work and home.

That is more difficult than most people realize because, as you said, a lot of self-employed people don't separate their time well enough.

I agree with your statement about friends, wives and business. You can always start another business, but sometimes you can't repair a ruptured relationship.

As always, your comment hit home.

Joe

 
At 12:30 AM, Anonymous Clair said...

I guess it depends on how a person prioritizes things. And there's also the factor we call discipline :)

For people who could discipline themselves to focus on each task one at a time, well, I think they might not have so many issues regarding distraction.

Sometimes you just have to let people know that even though you might be working at home, you do have regular work hours too :)

 
At 8:49 AM, Blogger Joseph said...

Hey Clair,
Sometimes it's beyond our control. If they know they can reach you (especially on a cell phone) they will call.

Most people are selfish when it comes to their problems, and no matter how nice you are explaining that you are working, they don't feel like they're intruding.

I keep regular hours, at least starting time, and work into the night quite a bit. So, it's difficult to get me when I'm not working.

All part of being self-employed, I guess.

I appreciate your input as always.

Joe

 

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