While the journey to being able to work from home came slowly for many, others were forced to jump on the bandwagon over the past 8 or so weeks. If you’re one of the millions finding themselves working from home, you might be trying to juggle your work with home life, all while attempting not to get distracted.
Here are some top tips to help keep you focused as you work from your cozy home office.
- Set boundaries
IT can be easy to overwork when you’re at home; you sit down at 8, and realize it’s 6 pm before you’ve even stopped to realize you worked a solid ten hours. If you work for yourself, that’s fairly normal. Being an entrepreneur takes hard work and often results in long hours, at least during the first several years of forming a new company or implementing a new project. However, if you are paid to work a set amount of hours, stick to it.
You may need a physical timer to remind you to take a lunch or get up and shut off the laptop, or you may simply need to remind other coworkers that your day is done. If they need to continue working through something, they can email you and you’ll respond the following workday. Setting boundaries for yourself is essential to keeping sane while working from home, whether that be time-based or deal with other coworkers.
- Limit distractions
If you find that you feel like you’re working hard at your desk, only to glance down at 10 am and find that your Fitbit has told you that you’ve reached half your daily steps, you probably are getting up and putzing more than is necessary.
Yes, exercise is important, but if you need to get some movement in before feeling like you’re focused, get up earlier and take a walk with your kids, spouse, or even call an early rising friend to chat on the phone while you pace around the neighborhood. Don’t let yourself become interrupted by self distractions like feeling like you need to get in your steps just because you can in the middle of your workday.
Limiting distractions also means not doing laundry, not tinkering with the oven that stopped working, and not calling a contractor to set up a time to re-roof your house. While those things still need to be done, consider setting up a time to make phone calls, and do home chores during a lunch break. From calling to make an appointment with Capital Appliance Repair to look at the noise the fridge is making, to running the dishwasher, make it a point to limit these distractions.
- Communicate with your family
If you and your spouse are both working from home, there will likely be an adjustment period. If you are taking care of children, while both of you are now working from home, you will need to discuss with your partner what meetings you may have throughout the day so that you can rotate watching the kids as necessary.
If at all possible, schedule meetings for when you think your kids will be down for naptime, and make the most out of downtime.
If your kids are older and more self-sufficient, set out what they may need throughout the day the night before, and even consider having a friendly sign near your office that reminds them what times you’re in a meeting, and what your schedule is for the day. Setting ground rules with the people in your living space will lead to a happier family and allow you to take advantage of your workday.
- Communicate with your coworkers
This might seem like a no-brainer, but when you’re not physically interacting with the same people that you did previously, you need to be a bit more of a squeaky wheel. From asking for help to simply checking in with your boss or coworkers, communicating with your team members will help with the transition to working from home.
You should be overcommunicating with your team, from discussing schedules to when you’ve finished a project. Everyone has a lot of their plate, so stating something twice might actually mean some people only hear it once. If you’re lacking direction, ask your boss for one-on-one’s
- Create a routine
While a set schedule of when you start and stop work each day is essential, creating a routine while you are working is also key. If you find you are just as productive in sweat pants as business casual clothes, go for it, but for many of us, taking the time to make work a routine increases productivity. Yes, it’s a mental game, but it still matters.
Your routine might consist of sitting down to your computer after you’ve made your second cup of coffee, changed into some non-pajamas clothes, and opening up your laptop. Your day should not begin with you sitting in your home office, rushing to refill your cold cup of coffee ten minutes into your day, and have you running upstairs to change into a button-down top right before your first zoom meeting at 10 am.
Likewise, have a routine to end your workday. Set yourself up for success for the following morning with a note to where you ended today, and then have a specific task or event you want to incorporate after you’ve turned off your computer.
If you want to go for an evening stroll with your family every night at 5:30, or if you like to wind down with a glass of white wine at 6, don’t let your workday creep into that routine. Separate the two worlds of work and home life as best you can, even though it can be hard.
Long-term versus Short-term work from home
If you are hoping to migrate to fully remote work, the COVID-19 pandemic may have just been the instigator to do so. Now is a good time to take note of the things you would like to change, and what things work for you as you sit behind your home desk.
While keeping a routine and set schedule may work for some, you may find you’re more creatively productive if you can alter your daily schedules. Do what works best for you so you can balance you work and home life.