Is It Harder to Cope With Personal Problems in a Home Office?

The flexibility and ease of telecommuting can sometimes make work more difficult.

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Long before I shuffled into work this morning, I began drafting my mental list of problems that needed fixing: a cellphone plan that needs to be changed, trouble with my tax return, a phone call I'd forgotten to make, a cable bill that needs to be paid. By the time I sat in my chair, I was mentally stammering for a break.

Few things are as regularly challenging as setting aside personal difficulties to focus on your job—the thing that pays the bills. My problems are minuscule. Circumstances like divorce, personal illness, family illness, or financial distress create tremendous conflict for people trying to stay on top of their job without neglecting their struggles outside of it.

I have generally believed that working from home—with all the freedom, ease, and lack of accountability that it affords—would be the easiest way to take care of both personal and professional obligations. Yesterday, however, I was reporting on a story about potential telecommuting troubles, and I realized that heading to the office may in fact be easier.

When you work from home, it's hard to scrape the putty of your personal life away from your professional obligations. The home-office experts I spoke with all touched on the struggle to keep the personal and professional separate. You're not only working to find that balance for yourself; it's difficult to convince others of your priorities. (It's tough to explain that you are, for example, actually doing work between 9 and 5 and not really able to do the ironing or call about the hospital bills.) By getting up and going to work, it seems you can draw clearer borders—particularly when dealing with major personal challenges.

I'm curious to hear the thoughts of anyone who works from home.

Is your home office distraction central, or a haven of productivity? Our friends at Betty Confidential want to know.

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