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Are You Making This Common Mistake With Your Family When You Work?

For practical reasons, you have set your work-space to be at your kitchen table (that’s where your laptop is).

Since you work before your family wakes up, you are forced to be located in the kitchen: That’s the only available space to do work during those hours of the day.

Although you get your work done when they are still sleeping, it’s a different story when your family is awake.

Since you still keep your laptop in the kitchen, you are kind of mixing two activities together: Working and socializing with your family at the same time.

Even though you are working, you are still giving the impression that you are available for others, since you work in the same space.When someone talks to you during these moments, you are not fully focusing on the person. Needless to say, this makes him/her annoyed.

You are also annoyed, since you are not getting your work done because others are distracting you.

Seems like it’s a problem you have to fix. And indeed, there is a way to do it.

Wrong Place at the Wrong Time

When you work in a place where others are spending their time too, they think you can be disturbed. They also think that you listen to them whenever they are talking to you.

But by being in the wrong location at the wrong time, you’re sending a false message to your family members, and this causes friction.

Since you also pretend to be present while in reality you are not (since you are working), it’s the best way to get others annoyed and confused: They don’t know if you are in work-mode or in socializing mode.

The location is the key to your confusion, but there is also something deeper that causes this friction with you and other family members.

The Illusion of Being Present

All this comes down to an illusion that you have inside your head: That you can do work, while being fully present with your family. In other words, you feel you are capable of multitasking.

Of course, this isn’t so and you can probably tell by the reaction of others and the work results you are getting.

This multitasking happens between roles. On the one hand, you are a business owner doing your work while at the same time; you are a father/mother, who is trying to spend time as much time as possible with his/her family.

Although in normal circumstances these roles are fine, you shouldn’t be mixing them. The fact is that you can only focus properly on one role at a time.

Since you now understand what the root cause behind the confusion is, you can start looking for some advice on how to prevent this from happening in the future.

Setting Boundaries

To clear up this situation, you have to be completely honest with yourself: No matter how much you’d like to do so, it’s just impossible to handle two things (roles) at the same time.

You’ll also have to “isolate” yourself when you are working.

In this context, the isolation means that you need to set up a dedicated workspace when you work. You need to physically be in a different location, so that it’s easier for your family members to recognize when you are available and when you are not.

This also prevents you from socializing with your family members while you work and they are less likely to distract you, since you are in a different physical location than they are.

Finally, you should define clear times and schedules when you do your work. This ensures, that others know when you are in work mode and when you shouldn’t be disturbed.

With these steps, you can clear up the confusion, focus on your work, but also be fully present with your family when you are not working.

How to Be 100% Present With Your Family

The next thing to do is to put all the pieces together into step-by-step instructions that you can follow right away.

The steps are as follows:

1. Change Your Mindset

Understand that you cannot multitask and be effective at the same time. In other words, don’t try to do two things at once, even if you think that’s a great idea.

Simultaneously socializing with your family and focusing on your business just doesn’t work.

2. Isolate Yourself Physically

Decide on your working location carefully. If you have your own room, then try to do your work there whenever possible.

If you don’t have any dedicated place in your home to do your work, then seek out places outside your home, such as:

  • A Library
  • A coffee shop
  • Outside in nature (if the weather permits and you have the internet connection available)
  • A hotel room
  • A co-working space
  • A full-blown office space

Finally, you can also work without any dedicated space in your home, but this means that you can do it only when your family is away or sleeping.

3. Define Your Working Times

It’s also important to define your working schedule and communicate this to other family members.

You can even put the schedule visible in a calendar where others can see it. In that calendar, try also to include a place where you work – especially if it’s outside your home.

This way everyone knows when and where you work and there isn’t any confusion over that matter.

In Conclusion

It’s very easy to think that you can do productive work while socializing with your family at the same time.

However, multitasking with two roles at once makes others confused and you can’t dedicate yourself to either one of the roles 100%.

That’s why it’s important to have a dedicated space where you can work with the defined working hours.

This way you are sending the right signal to your family and there is much less confusion and annoyance all the way around.

Over to you: How do you make sure you are 100% with your family?

Written on 11/30/2012 by Timo Kiander. Timo, a.k.a. Productive Superdad, teaches WAHD superdad productivity for work at home dads. If you want to get more productive in your own life, grab 222 of his best Tips for Becoming a Productivity Superstar. Photo Credit:
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