WATERLOO — Four years ago, Kris Pond-Burtis took her work home with her — and she never left. A college professor who worked out of a traditional office for 18 years, Pond-Burtis started Krisalis Incorporated Business and Professional Organizing and Training in 2002, setting up an office in her home.
Though her office is located in the center of her house, Pond-Burtis says it’s possible to keep work and home life separate, even when they are located under the same roof.
“It’s really important when trying to do something like a home office to dedicate space in the house over to what that business is,” she says. “…There needs to be a delineation between your work space and your home space.”
Pond-Burtis says she initially tried to separate herself entirely from the main floor of the house, turning an upstairs unused bedroom into her office, but it was too quiet. Now, she’s found her niche in the corner of the dining room, just off the kitchen.
“I am not right smack in the main traffic flow, but I do have an awareness of what is going on in the house. Location is a really key thing for people working from home,” she says.
Teresa Carr, owner of Organized for Living, found she needed to be away from the action to function in her work space, which she created on the third floor of her home.
“No one else uses that space, and having those physical boundaries is very important,” says Carr.
Establishing boundaries that aren’t quite as tangible also can be important to keeping your work out of your home life and vice-versa.
Pond-Burtis says her family respects her working hours, and her clients respect her home time. She has an office phone line separate from her home line, as well as a fax machine. After 5:30 p.m., Pond-Burtis says she makes an effort to not grab her office phone if it rings.
“It can be even harder to disengage because if I’m home, if I have trouble getting to sleep, I can just slip down into my office and start working,” she says. “Sometimes it’s a very productive thing to do and sometimes it isn’t … There is a risk of never getting out of the office.”
Carr says it’s easy to want to work all the time if the hours are available, but she tries to only work with clients until 5:30 p.m. so she can spend time with her family. Carr’s husband, Brian, also works out of the home, but the couple doesn’t keep strict schedules. Like office space, Carr says the way people organize their days is a matter of preference.
“No matter what your organizational and work style is, planning is absolutely essential, as is prioritizing and setting goals,” says Teresa. “You should have a yearly plan, a monthly plan, a weekly plan, a daily plan. It’s an absolute framework.”
That framework should be communicated to the business person’s family as well, says Mike Hahn, senior program manager at UNI Regional Business Center.
“I think it’s important that you work with the family and communicate with the family and tell the family that this is serious,” says Hahn. “Tell them, ‘These are my set hours and you are not to interrupt me. There needs to be borders there as well.”
Contact Kelsey Holm at (319) 291-1464