In the previous post, we wrote about the importance of having an office with a door. Just having a door is one thing, but keeping it closed is another. If your door is always open—literally or figuratively—anyone is free to disrupt you at will. Depending on what you’re doing, that may not be a bad thing. After all, we’re not 100% intent on work for the entire business day. We may just be checking e-mail, opening the physical mail, doing our social media updates, reading news and trade articles related to our business, or other low-level tasks that may not need a great deal of attention. When doing these things, it may be perfectly fine to be interrupted. But at other times, we need to be intently focused on the task at hand, whether it’s working on a huge spreadsheet, writing a report, or even composing an important e-mail.
This is why it’s often important to set office hours. Sure, a lot of people who work from home like to think they’re freewheeling enough to work whenever the mood strikes. In point of fact, though, most of us settle into a regular daily routine. (The freedom comes in deciding what that routine is. We will look at this more closely in a future post.) Once we know what that routine is, we can assign office hours or tell friends, family, neighbors, etc., what time(s) of day are best for interruption and what times they should stay away. Appointments can be scheduled during those office hours. We also use those low-productivity times for other tasks, like running errands, going to the gym, etc.
Sometimes the work hours are dictated by others, such as family members’ school hours, or the times they leave for work at a “real” job and return home. Other times, they can be scheduled around personal preference. If you’re an early riser, you might find that it’s preferable for you to use pre-dawn hours when the house is quiet to answer e-mails and then take a gym break at mid-morning. Night owls may get a later start and end their day at a later hour. There is no right or wrong here, just what is right or wrong for you.