Protect your career by setting healthy boundaries.
You’ve got a fresh mug of coffee on your desk, and you’re wearing your favorite sweatpants. Your laptop is powered on and ready for a productive day. You’re ready to tackle your workload while the kids are napping or watching a TV show.
Then the distractions begin.
Many folks mistakenly classify work-at-home moms or dads as stay-at-home parents. Because of this, they assume you're able to drop everything when they need you. It's great to help others when you can, but if you say yes to their requests, you may be late for virtual meetings or miss important deadlines. Whether you manage a sales team or run a thriving online business, don’t be afraid to deny the demands of the career-impacting people below.
When your phone rings or your email dings, you don’t even have to check who it is anymore. It’s The Chatterbox, and she’s super excited that you’re home all day so she can fill you in on her life. She’s happy to share all the details, from what she had for breakfast to how her date with that guy she met last week went.
The Chatterbox is typically a friend, family member, or neighbor - all of which may make it hard to get rid of her when you actually need to get something done. Don’t feel guilty about telling her you can’t talk at the moment. If you’re worried about hurting her feelings, say something like, “That sounds really cool! I can’t wait to hear about it this evening when I’m done with my project.” That response lets you set a healthy boundary while showing that you still care about her stories.
The Person Who Thinks You’re a Daycare
You’re home all day with your own kids, so one or two more won’t hurt, right? At least that’s how this person sees it. She has meetings to attend and shopping to do, and she says dragging along a bunch of cranky toddlers is no fun.
That’s not your problem, though. You have your own kids to raise, and you’re busy building your career. This person may not understand that you work since you’re home all the time, so it’s your choice whether to explain what you do all day. Next time she asks if she can drop off the kids for a while, say something like, “I have a lot going on during the day, but I’d love to plan a playdate when we’re both free.” Hopefully, that comment will get the message across that you’re not a free daycare - or even a paid sitter.
The Ride Requester
It’s very convenient that you work from home because The Ride Requester needs to go grocery shopping this morning and can’t afford a cab. This person may also have a long list of appointments to attend, such as doctor’s visits and trips to the Division of Family Services.
If The Ride Requester is a family member or close friend and you feel bad saying no, offer other practical solutions. Some insurance companies provide transportation to medical appointments, so that might be an option for your loved one. The Division of Family Services often agrees to do over-the-phone interviews for EBT and Medicaid applications, especially during the pandemic. Also, many of the application forms for other offices, such as the Social Security building, are available online.
Alternately, you can agree on a specific time frame when you are available to provide rides, such as 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. one day a week. Make it clear that you cannot transport anyone outside of these hours, so appointments and errands must be planned accordingly.
It can be tempting to spend your day helping others, especially if you're a people pleaser. However, it's difficult for your home business to grow if you spend your day tending to issues that aren't work-related. Politely yet firmly let your loved ones know that you cannot be there 24/7 for their needs, particularly those that occur during your workday.
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