9 Tips for Work-at-Home Success
A home office may never fill the gap that your “office office” left when you transitioned to working from home. The house is a constant reminder of your responsibilities, and now it’s the full spectrum. Everywhere you look there’s housework, shopping, cooking, and now...distance-learning kids (or small kids running around) and work-from-home spouses that need tending to.
But as overwhelming or impossible as it feels some days, there are a few things you can put to practice that can (hopefully) help you love your work from home life and even see the perks of setting up shop at home!
9 Tips for Work-at-Home Success
1) Claim the common area.
If your kids are distance learning from home, then two things ring true:
- They’ll each need their own private space to work.
- You’ll need to be easily accessible to jump in and help.
While an office set up in the quietest corner of your home sounds the most appealing, you might find more peace and productivity in the common area while the kids set up shop in their rooms.
Choosing to work from this area of your house allows you the opportunity to monitor things and make sure that they’re staying engaged in schoolwork rather than raiding the pantry for snacks all day. It also means that they know right where to find you if they need something—no need for them to run through the house yelling, mom, or dad.
2) Get to your work early (if you can).
“Wake up before your kids so you can prepare for the day (especially if you're like me and NOT a night owl that can do this for the next day after they go to sleep).” — Ali Haney, Ali Rae Haney Photography
If you can wake up before the kids and knock out a few of your day's to-dos, then you’ll be ready and waiting to help the kids with their tasks.
3) Establish non-verbal cues.
If you’re on and off the phone or in meetings all day, the last thing you need is your kids yelling in the house or coming to you to ask for something every couple of minutes. While they deserve grace and a friendly reminder here and there, establishing nonverbal cues as to when are or are not accessible can be helpful.
“My kids know if I have my headphones in that I am on a call and they have to wait or ask each other for help. We have small desks and laptops so we can be portable and go to a quieter area if needed.” -- Lindsay Medeiros, Hiring our Heroes Salesforce Fellow at Team Red, White & Blue
4) Schedule breaks.
You don’t need breaks if you’re working from home, right? Wrong. Perhaps now, more than ever, establishing a pause in your work day is essential to your mental health and productivity. While there are plenty of positive elements to working from home, creating space between home life and work life isn’t one of them.
Walk away from your workspace. If you’re in the common area with a laptop, close it, let it charge and take a walk outside. Hop on your bike or treadmill and empty your mind while you listen to music. Take a moment to eat a healthy snack or pick up a book for a few minutes. And if your child's schedule allows for it, include them in your search for fresh air!
5) Be portable.
A home office can mean a variety of things. Right now, with our needs constantly changing or needing to be in five places at once, a laptop might be the way to go. Establish a place to set the computer down to charge, keep your notes, air pods, etc., but be mobile—ready to pop up wherever you’re needed most at the moment. Buy a portable headset so you can take your conferences, meetings, calls with you. Who says you can’t log into a meeting and get a little housework done at the same time?
Plus, if your child is having a rough day and needs more help or support than usual, a laptop offers you the flexibility to sit with them and chip away at work in between questions vs. leaving your desktop behind until the end of the school day.
Need help with home organization? Start here! Home Organization: A Beginner's Guide.
6) Set boundaries.
Don’t work where you relax. While working from the bed or the couch sounds comfiest, not only are you more likely to fall asleep or get distracted, but you’ll also tarnish those sacred places with work and might find it harder to sit and enjoy a show or fall asleep when you’re not working.
7) Break down your checklist.
Are you a list person? Now is the time to become one if you aren’t already. If you’re facing a mountain of work or find it harder to get stuff done while fulfilling your other roles like parent, teacher, and spouse, it’s better to shift your focus to a more realistic goal and tackle just a couple of things at a time. Tikva Morrow, at the muse, says,
“Before you begin tackling the day’s tasks, spend 10 minutes creating a detailed checklist. Then, spend another five making an even shorter checklist of tasks you absolutely know will get done in the next couple of hours.”
8) Create time blocks.
2020 has lost its sense of time. It’s become hard to keep track of what day of the week it is, let alone what time of day it is. So, pick a routine that helps you get on track while welcoming flexibility and time for interruptions, of course. Try setting aside a designated "no interruption time" for the tasks that need your undivided attention, and space for the things that you can accomplish with a little background noise.
Photo by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash
9) Let there be light!
Find a place to work that's flooded in natural light if you can. Inadequate lighting can lead to eye strain and leave you feeling tired and unmotivated. If warm sunshine isn’t in the cards, then surround yourself in artificial lighting. Try adding lamps or a Lume Cube to your workspace to help brighten it!
If you’re going to work from home, then you might as well embrace it. It’s no secret that working from home presents its unique set of obstacles. But, with tips like these, hopefully, you can roll into a rhythm, and even learn to love it!
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