Working from home has many benefits, not least the saving in clinic room rent and time spent travelling to and from appointments.
To have your own treatment space within your house, or perhaps a studio in the back garden, means you don’t have to share your energy with other practitioners. You can make the space to suit you and your clients.
However, working from home needs discipline so that the work-home life division is not blurred. To do this you need to set some boundaries and keep within them. Here’s my seven boundaries to consider.
1. Keep your treatment room separate from your living space
Retain the energy in your clinic space just for you and your clients. Ensure your home life doesn’t spill over – washing, paperwork, sticky fingers – all of which will do nothing for the client experience. At the end of the working day, close the door behind you until tomorrow.
2. Have a clear office space
Alongside your treatment room, you’ll need somewhere to do your paperwork and work on your business.
If you don’t have a dedicated office area then establish a particular place for these tasks. Perhaps the kitchen table or a desk in the dining room will work but ensure you keep put away everything at night/during family time and be mindful of client confidentiality.
3. Establish clear set client hours
Be very clear about the hours you see clients. This will ensure you know exactly which hat you are wearing during the day, your family know when you are being mother/father/partner etc and your clients know when you are available as a therapist.
Aim to keep to those times by scheduling client time ahead in your diary every week. Don’t change it from week to week. If you set a boundary of family time on a Saturday morning, don’t change it for the one client who insists they can only do Saturdays. It’s ok to say no and setting a boundary gives you permission to do so.
4. Establish clear set office hours
Hands up, who has checked emails or written a blog post at 10.00pm? (cough). After another late night you begin to wonder where the dream of self-employed freedom has gone. As with client hours, aim to also set your own office hours when you work ‘on’ your business. This is the time to do paperwork, emails, admin and marketing.
I’ll admit this is a hard boundary for me to keep to, not least because I do enjoy writing and techy stuff. However, being on a laptop late into the evening means I don’t have appropriate down-time. I am, however, strict about not being online once my daughter gets home from school until she goes to bed, unless she has a friend over or is watching tv. I’ve also started to put aside Friday’s as my time to work on my business.
5. Keep to treatment times
To ensure you don’t encroach into your home-life time, be clear about how long you spend with clients.
There are always clients who want to talk at the end of their treatment and often it’s the talking part that can really help them. But it’s important to set the boundaries from the start so that clients know how long they have, plus it means the next client isn’t kept waiting. If you have a client who loves to talk then one trick is stand up and move towards the door as you talk about looking forward to seeing them next time.
6. Have a lunch break
When you work in an office, a lunch hour is an accepted part of work life. Even if you do end up bringing your lunch back to your desk, you’ll probably have at least stepped away to get that lunch.
There is no reason why you can’t do the same at home. Being a health professional, you’ll understand the importance of good nutrition . So schedule time in your diary for lunch break every day, even if you only want to take 20-30 minutes.
7. Have time out
As a therapist you probably talk a lot about self-care to your clients because it’s all part of the holistic approach. Remember that you need to practice self-care too!
Being self-employed doesn’t mean we can’t take regular holidays and down-time. Look after after number one and book that self-care time in your diary, preferably away from home so that actually remember there is life outside your treatment room. Schedule a regular yoga class or perhaps meet a fellow therapist for coffee every Friday.
How do you ensure the work-home life balance? If you have hints or tips, do comment below.