Outside consultant: Balance in the home office

  • Updated: March 10, 2013 - 11:53 AM

Question

I’ve been running my business for about five years, creating wedding invitations for customers all over the world.

My question is how do you stay focused while working from a home office? I try to balance work and family, but when I’m with my family, I feel like I should be working, and vice versa. It’s hard to get my family to understand that my office is my office, that they shouldn’t disturb me. I don’t interrupt my husband at work, but I don’t get the same respect at home.

Teresa Setterlund, Owner/Designer, Appleberry Ink, www.appleberryink.com

 

Answer

The best answer to your question comes from Confucius: “Respect yourself and others will respect you.”

This can be difficult to hear, but your work is first with yourself, not your family. I don’t know you, but most women are socialized to care for others. Complex, ingrained patterns in our cultures keep that dynamic in place. As a result, you may feel shame or guilt when you spend time building something of your own.

Reams of research show that women are more likely than men to: (a) put the needs — even the wants and desires — of others before their own, (b) make career sacrifices for family, and (c) do more than their fair share of housework and child care. If you continue to do this, those who love you will assume it’s what you want to do. Only when you get firm about your boundaries will others respect them.

The second step is about communicating and enforcing these boundaries with your family. Once you do the inner work, you will know how to do this outer work given your particular circumstances.

This issue is complex and more core to identity than it may first appear. Know that my experience with other businesswomen assures me that it can be managed successfully. We’re cheering for you!

About the author: Teresa J. Rothausen is a professor of management and holder of the Susan E. Heckler Endowed Chair in Business Administration at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.

 

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