When you work from outside a traditional office, you lose the traditional boundaries of an office. Your clients, coworkers and family co-exist in your inbox, on IM, and want you available any time. Learn how to raise better fences around your work.
Photo by bulliver.
The FreelanceSwitch blog stresses three important fences to put up, walling you off from clients, coworkers and family. The family suggestions are typical — close a door, put up a do-not-disturb sign — if hard to enforce. For clients, it's akin to Jason's tip on training people to use your inboxes. For chatty fellow freelancers and others with the time to message you at any time, the situation is a bit trickier, but able to be controlled, as the post explains:
The solution? A fence, of course. For IM, a good fence is setting your IM to the red "do not disturb" option. Warn your colleagues about the fence going up, just as you did your clients, but do something important as well: let your colleague know how to open the gate.
That means that if you want your colleague to ping you if he has a business matter to draw to your attention, tell him it's okay. It's like saying, "I put up this fence because I need to get some work done, but if it's really important, go ahead and unlatch the gate." This also says you have faith your colleague will only use the gate if he needs to – and most people like to prove themselves worthy of that kind of faith.
How do you wall off your time and bolster your fences when it's time to get things done? Do you find it easier or harder to shut down your connections as a freelancer than as an office worker? Let's hear how you make it work in the comments.
Why You Need Good Fences for your Freelance Neighbors [FreelanceSwitch]