Finding Your WFH Balance

mindset mission values time management Apr 29, 2024
Working From Home Insights from a Seasoned Bookkeeper

I'd hazard a guess and say that most bookkeepers work from home. Certainly, most start that way. And why not? There are many benefits to doing so.

I've worked from home for 23 years. So it's fair to say that after all these years I know how to make working from home, well... work!

In that time I've raised 2 children as well as co-owned a hair salon, sold Tupperware, started, built and sold a bookkeeping business and, for the past 8 years, run my coaching business - all from a home office.

I have largely treasured my ability to work from home

You really can't beat the commute for a start. Lunch times and coffee runs are generally easy and inexpensive. You can hang the washing out in a micro-break. It's usually quiet. It's inexpensive, and I get to write off some home office expenses.

But I get that it doesn't work for everyone.

I have heard others say that they can't seem to retain the required level of focus at home and that other chores beckon them away from their desks.

There is one thing in particular that has helped me to successfully work from home and that is...

...compartmentalising my roles.

When my eldest son was a baby I started doing some contract bookkeeping work for a business owner. We both thought it would be a good fit for me in that I would be able to do this work around my role as a new mum. But it turns out that it was unrealistic and stressful and I would never recommend it now.

🀦 For one, it was an incredibly inefficient way of working, having to stop what I was focused on and then pick up the threads of where I was at again, often multiple times per hour.

πŸ’ƒ Secondly, thinking that I could multi-task was foolish. Multi-tasking, or task-switching as it really is, is a myth. No one is good at it and we need to stop thinking we can be. All that is happening is that our brains are switching from one task to another, fast, and that has got to be contributing to brain drain and decision fatigue.

🀷 And thirdly, trying to work this way meant I made more mistakes. Not surprising that, is it really, in light of the above?

Eventually, I realised that I needed to compartmentalise my roles and treat work time as work time and home time as home time.

I was doing an injustice to everyone concerned - my children, my clients, me - by trying to work while the kids were around.

My boys deserved a mother who was present, especially since I had 50/50 shared care with their Dad. I needed to make the most of our time together.

My clients needed me to be present when working on their accounts. I needed to be focused and I needed to not be making mistakes.

So I set specific work hours and boundaries and communicated them to my clients so that I worked only when the children were not with me. And that made a huge difference in successfully working from home.

Should I get an office?

Lately, I've been reassessing my work-from-home situation. I'm wondering if I should get an office. Again, it would be an attempt to compartmentalise my roles.

My boys have been out living their own lives for a few years now, and it's just my partner and I at home. We are both based from home with our work and I find myself craving that full day to myself and, just quietly, I need to leave the house more.

I'm mindful that I've been here before though. Many times actually, this kind of yearning for a "real" office. I've never pushed the go button before though because I would rather have that money in my pocket than someone else's, and I have never felt that it would be a solid return on investment.

Instead, I look for other ways to achieve my goals that don't require the expense of an office and don't require me to give up my much-loved home office. I imagine this time will be no different.

Is a hybrid situation the answer?

Hybrid might look like building or installing a standalone office unit on you property, as some of my clients have done, enabling that separation between home and work but at the same time allowing them to maintain the benefits of working from home. This can work really well.

For others, simply ensuring that they have a dedicated home office space, or at the least a dedicated space in the house that is the office area, is enough to make it work.

Hybrid may also look like working from cafes, client's offices or shared spaces from time to time. 

Having a close-down routine can also be beneficial.

Can you turn off your computer and shut your door, even metaphorically, at the end of your work day? Is there a deliniation between your work life and your home life?

There's no right or wrong here. As you can see there are many options and as we all have different priorities, ROI looks different for each of us.

Ultimately we all make the best choice for ourselves and for our own unique circumstances.

What's your choice? πŸ˜ƒ


Interested in working with me?

Ready to move from Bookkeeper to Business Owner and looking for coaching support to get you there? Learn how to build a better bookkeeping business within a business model framework designed to maximise profit, increase productivity, and create a thriving business that you love.