Ah, working from home… Many people think this is a luxury until they actually have to do it, like during this “Stay at Home” Order we are currently in. It sounds great, but in reality it can be quite difficult for a number of reasons. Here are a few:
- Have trouble focusing on work, when you are in your home environment
- Too many distractions in your house (family, pets, chores to be done, etc.)
- Lack of Structure – not sure when to start or end your workday. Some days you may find yourself working at 5am while drinking your coffee in your pajamas and other days you may be working at 6pm when your family is asking what’s for dinner and when you’ll be done?
So this is just to name a few, but I am sure there are others, and some have different variables depending on what your “home life” looks like (ie. roommates, kids, neighbors, etc.)
So let’s talk about how we can tackle these obstacles and distractions for work/life balance.
Step One: Do not work in your pajamas. Once in a while it is okay, but honest opinion, this hurts productivity. You’re too relaxed, too unfocused. Get up, get showered and dressed as if you’re going into the office. This gets you into the mindset to work. The mindset to be productive and get shit done.
Step Two: Have a designated work-space. Whether it is at the kitchen table/counter, or if you have a desk or home office, or a quiet corner in your bedroom (not in your bed – again, too relaxed and hurts productivity), set a designated work area where you can set up your computer and paperwork and focus on work.
Step Three: Set time for work. Whether you are working full time or part time from home. Don’t be all willy-nilly and just work a little here and a little there. For example, if you are planning to put in 4 hours of work, set aside the four hours, like 9am-2pm; Or 8am-12pm, or maybe you’re a night shift person and then it’s like 6pm-10pm. Whatever it is, set the time aside for work, and stick to it. (Side note: This step is important because it tells you this is your designated time to be working on work, and will help you focus on the work and not on distractions.)
Step Four: Create a schedule or plan each day. Similar to with your daily checklist from Part One, you will have a plan or check list for your work day. You may not know what you need to complete when you first sit down, but as you go through emails/phone calls, etc. create a list. Write down the tasks you know you need to complete so that you know during that window of designated work time, you are focused on completing those tasks.
Step Five: When work is done, leave your work space. Don’t linger and check emails, or pop on and off to do tasks periodically throughout the day (unless absolutely necessary). Save it for the next day. Enjoy the time you have NOT working whether it’s watching a little TV, listening to music, completing house chores, or projects or helping your kids with homework, or taking a nice walk. Whatever it is, make sure you disconnect from work so there is no “gray area”.
A few important side notes below:
IMPORTANT: Family, kids, roommates, pets… AKA our Living Distractions (As opposed to non-living like chores, tv, snacks, etc.) can still make this difficult. Teaching your living distractions that when you are working you should not be bothered can take a little practice but it is possible! This is why it is important that you have a designated work time and a designated work-space. By creating a routine, it is a lot easier for others to be understanding, respectful and adaptable to your new schedule. Be patient with them, and don’t give up when it feels hopeless or frustrating. Understand that this is new for them too and may be frustrating for them as well. Usually it takes a few days to a week or so for people/pets to understand this is part of your routine and priorities.
Another side note because I know this is the case for some: If you have noisy neighbors and live in an apartment, try to plan your working hours around “quiet times” that will help you be able to focus on work. If that is not possible, maybe consider working on the balcony/porch or possibly going to a quiet place outside. Your work-space does not have to be confined to your home, as long as it is sufficient for you to be able to do your job and do it well, and still practicing social distancing of course.
I hope this information has been helpful! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy and practicing good habits during the “Stay at Home” Order. Stay tuned for additional tips to keep you on track!