Working from home has its advantages but it can also blur the lines between office, home and family. For many, multi-tasking is the norm. Working on a project, while homeschooling a child while also keeping an eye on the laundry can make anyone wish they could just go back to the office. Having worked from home now for over 10 years.
Here are my big 5 to help you manage your time and home better.
- Set a schedule…for everything! Meetings are already on your calendar, add child care, who has them, for how long. Include deadlines or finish by times to motivate you to stay on track. I even include when I do laundry – just on Wednesdays, just in the morning. I start the washer by 7:45am, meeting starts at 8am. By the time my first meeting is over, time to move clothes to the dryer. It gives me a little walking around break and I get through.
- Get out of your pajamas and into some casual or work clothes – it is a psychological trick but it works. It is too easy to start working while still in your PJs. I’ve done it, so I know. What happens is that you start and you inadvertently end up in PJs at 1pm. It’s more about self-care and taking those few minutes to put yourself together before grabbing that cup of coffee and headed to your ‘office’.
- Establish your ‘office’. Designate a space as your office. Even if you are in a one bedroom, give your work a corner so you can ‘go’ to work there and be able to ‘leave’ it afterwards. It will help you be more organized, gives your brain a break when you can walk away from work – even to the kitchen.
- Take time for Self-Care. Schedule your free time and treat it just like a meeting. Be good to yourself and show up, on time, for your free time. Whether it’s lunch or a 15 minute break, do it. My sister lives nearby and when she started working from home, we took our break together. We would meet at the corner and walk for about 10 minutes outside, get some fresh air, stretch our legs, refresh our water bottles (we did a crazy gallon a day challenge!) and get back to our ‘offices’.
- Set boundaries that work for you. Since your commute to work is now reduced to a walk from your bedroom to the kitchen or to the couch, it can be difficult to end your workday. Whether you are a workaholic or you just love your work, having mobile access to work emails and apps can also make it difficult to end your day. This has been the most challenging aspect of my working at home experience. Since I work with different time zones, it’s very easy to engage with the East Coast early and then keep going when my team in San Diego. In those situations, I’ve set my schedule so that I work with NY on a couple of days so my day begins very early but also ends earlier and then days I work with the West Coast, my day starts a bit later and ends an hour or two later. It might also help to turn apps off on your mobile phone at the end of the day.