Are you working from home for the first time?
I’ve been based from a home office for the majority of my working life, and if you can believe it, many of those years were spent sharing the same office space with my husband, who also works from home.
We decided to share our tips on what we do to make it work, juggling family commitments, and how we manage to spend so much time together without a mention of the ‘D’ word!
Do your best to get up at the same time each day, shower and dress for work and build in time for other morning routines. Journalling, meditating, reading, exercising – whatever helps you start your day in a positive frame of mind. Make the most of the time you gain by not commuting to work.
And make the bed. Weird I know, but research somewhere shows that this helps with productivity, I just can’t remember where. LOL!
Establish breaks throughout the day, ensure you eat a good lunch, and have a firm stop time or last task to accomplish.
You will need a dedicated work space to help keep all your work needs in one place. Get creative in finding this space – a console table in the living room, the dining table with a dedicated spot to stash everything at the end of the work day, a small table in a guest room, a nook in a hallway. Do your best to keep your work space out of your bedroom – it’s not good for the mind to sleep and work in the same room.
If you and your partner will be working from home discuss whether you can work in the same space, or whether you will need distance from each other. If one of you is on the phone 75% of the time, and the other needs quiet for focused work, you will need to find different areas to work.
Equally you may like to be together and enjoy the opportunity to stop work from time to time and shoot ideas across the dining room table. This is certainly how it has worked for us.
Currently we share one of our spare bedrooms – oddly enough the smallest room in the house, but also the brightest – and have it set up with two desks, our printers, a filing cabinet and all our office supplies. It’s simple and cosy, but we make it work.
Whenever we are on a longer call, we either pace the house or retreat to the only guaranteed quiet room in our house, our bedroom, leaving the one in the office to work without distraction. We do the same if we are on a video call – just be sure that your background looks professional. (Read, no unmade beds or dirty laundry!) A tidy corner with a chair will suffice.
Plan out your work day according to tasks you need to accomplish. Endeavour to move through your list and avoid busy work or distractions. Only check social media when you are on a break. It’s amazing how much time those social rabbit trails take up.
Experiment with how you focus best – TV on in the background, favourite play list, complete quiet. Everyone is different, and honestly mixing it up day to day has proved successful for us.
If you find your focus waning, take a break. Personally I’m a big fan of a dance break, although sometimes I’ll throw in a load of laundry or start supper if I need a complete gear shift. My husband prefers to step away from his desk and do something different like put in a call to a colleague or friend, or meditate if he’s feeling stressed.
Changing where you are working from can also help – usually this would mean heading to a local coffee shop, but in today’s world moving to the sofa, dining table, or if you are enjoying good weather where you are, the patio, can do wonders for re-focusing the brain.
If you have children at home, you will need to build in time for managing their activities too, and you can share these times with your partner so you can both get work done.
The bonus of working from home is that you can set your own schedule. Over the years we used various ways of planning our work lives, mainly to accommodate our children’s activities.
For example, one of you could work from 6.00 – 12.00, and the other 12.00 – 6.00, with a commitment to additional work in the evenings once the kids are in bed. Alternatively you could work in 2.5 hour blocks three times a day and structure them around your kids and partner’s schedule.
If your children are more self-sufficient then you can plan your day to lunch with them, or go for an afternoon walk together to blow out all the cobwebs.
When one of you is up against a deadline, the other takes on the family meal preparation, or getting the kids off to bed.
Keep the lines of communication open. Share your calendar of video meetings, phone calls etc, with each other so you can stagger the meetings/calls and you won’t both need quiet space at the same time with kids running rampant around the house!
If you have children at home, one of you can be free to monitor their activities and ensure there are no interruptions to the call in progress. For the record, this still happens in our house from time to time with our young adult sons, which always induces a laugh from our colleagues and a red faced son. And everyone moves on. No big deal.
Working from home is every introvert’s ideal, but regardless, introverted or extroverted working away from colleagues can be a lonesome experience. It’s important to find ways to feel connected while being socially distanced.
Instigate your own virtual meeting with your colleagues and enjoy a lunch or coffee break together.
If you are a member of a professional group, reach out and see if other members are interested in some kind of virtual meeting to exchange ideas, challenges and solutions.
With technology today this is so much easier than ever before, with apps such as FaceTime and Zoom.
If you have any questions on working from home, or need some virtual assistance setting up your office give me a shout.
Stay safe. Be well.
Thanks for stopping in!
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