I have been freelancing from home for about a year now. On the work side, things have been going very well; I am making good money and having a blast. On the personal side, however, things are getting strained with my girlfriend, who shares an apartment with me.
She knows that I am working and tries to take it seriously, but she seems to have trouble understanding why I need to stay focused on work for a full 8 hours, and can't wrap up the day early or frequently stop to see things she wants to show me, or ask for my opinion on an email she's working on. (She is not currently employed or in school, although she is working on rectifying those issues). I don't think she realizes how often she interrupts me, and she gets very upset when I start refusing to take a short break to do x.
Sometimes I'll be working on a complex piece of code, or stuck on a difficult paragraph in an email to a client, and get very angry when I'm interrupted 3 or 4 times before I finish the task. Other times, she starts yelling when I underestimate how long it will take to finish up the last thing I'm doing (often an email summary of my work for the day) before I clock out.
I'm hoping to get advice from other freelancers who have gone through similar struggles at home. What is a good way to sit down and discuss this with her, and help her understand the importance of working with minimal distractions? Are there any good articles or resources I could encourage her to read? What can I do better to make her happy and not feel neglected or like she's always waiting for me?
Some of the things I've tried:
- Telling her to think of it the same way as if I am at an office (doesn't work for her because I'm not at an office and I "made that choice")
- Telling her this is how I make my income and if I work less, I get paid less
- Explain in detail how I get very frustrated and even angry when constantly interrupted while I'm working
- Putting a Japanese divider between us (the cat mauled it in very short order; there goes a hundred bucks...)
We are living in a smallish apartment and there is no practical way for me to have a dedicated office space. I have one computer desk and it's where I do all of my business and non-business activities that require a computer. Her desk is right next to mine.
I've tried all the common sense but this is a particularly difficult case...