If you haven’t worked from home regularly, the transition to working in your home, and especially, working with kids in the home, can be extremely challenging! I’ve talked to several people who are struggling with this so I thought I would share some tips from my brother who has built and run his company from his home for over twenty years. He also homeschooled his two daughters for several years while working at home so he knows a thing or two about the struggle.
Here are his Top 6 Tips for Working from Home:
#1 Habits Matter When working at home, work like you are going into the office. Get up. Get dressed. If you wear a tie at work, wear one at home. Wear jewelry to work? Put it on at home. We are creatures of habit and something happens to our brain when we prepare ourselves for work just like we were going into the office.
#2 Headphones are Essential Some people like to listen to music, some like audiobooks, some just like ambient sound. Headphones enable you to shut out distractions or at least control what sounds you are listening to. Every person who works from home ends up investing in some good headphones. **If you have little ones in the home, I get this is challenging. I (Angie) personally like to have the TV on with a show I only slightly care about so I can still hear the sounds of the house while having noise on in the background.
#3 Have a Dedicated Work Space You are working in a home office. You are not at home during this time. That sounds weird to write. But having a designated area where work happens is important to differentiating in your mind what happens in that space. A desk, a table, a couch. Whatever it is, that is now work space. Help your mind be in work mode by putting boundaries up around that space.
#4 Find Online Community Depression is real and common for people working in isolation. Find a way to connect with others online. Do video calls with coworkers while working so that you can keep a positive work experience with human interaction. FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Facebook all have free options for being virtually face-to-face with others.
#5 Do Some Kind of Exercise Most working people get their daily exercise by walking around the office or building, taking the stairs, or walking to lunch. When you are at home, your getting up and sitting down is far more infrequent. But your body needs that dopamine from MOVING! Take a 15 minute walk. Do it while making calls. Stop and do some yoga or jumping jacks. Find a way to be active for that 15 minutes several times a day.
#6 When It’s Done, Let It Be Done Put an end to your work day. Put it away. Go spend time with your family. Cook something. Turn on some music. Transition your home from work to home by changing the environment. It will keep you loving being at home even though you have to work there and it will allow you to have some work/home boundaries.
I also spent some time working from home a few years ago. It was a challenge for me. I was undisciplined and really struggled without the human interaction. Here are a few things I learned working from home that I implement when occasionally working from home now:
#7 Keep a Log of What you Complete Some people are great with to-do lists. I’m great with got-it-done lists. When working from home, sometimes I would get to the end of the day and I wasn’t even sure what I did that day. Now, when I work, I love to write down what was completed so I know I did what I needed to along with the things that came unexpectedly.
#8 Go Outside When you eat or drink your coffee or take that call, spend some time getting Vitamin D by letting the sun shine on your face. This also helps with the tendency toward depression from being cooped up all the time. Get some fresh air! Its good for the soul and your ability to work well.
#9 Schedule A Meeting With Yourself If I am working on something creative (my favorite) or something tedious that requires my concentration, scheduling a meeting with myself is super helpful. By pretending to be in a meeting, I feel better about turning off my phone and telling people, “sorry, I was in a meeting.” Just because you are working from home does not mean you have to be 100% accessible.
#10 Remember that Balance is a Myth: Show Yourself Some Grace The world wants to convince us that balance is the commodity we can all have if we just organize well enough, plan detailed enough, practice discipline hard enough. But in reality, what I’ve found, is that when in charge of my own time, efficiency comes in waves. There are days when working from home requires my full attention from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed and I may even wake up thinking about it. I may do this for a few days if I’m chasing a new idea, have encountered an unexpected challenge (hello COVID-19) or am wrestling with something. But then. I ALWAYS take a day to shut the world out. I listen to my favorite music. I read something that has nothing to do with work or school. I sit outside and pray. I go hiking with my kids. Play ball with my dog. Fold the laundry. Sometimes I watch a stupid TV show. Whatever it is, I find something that is so normal, so not work-related, so not functional, that my brain is able to rest and my soul is able to be nourished through this rest.
At the end of the day, make your work work for you. Your ebb and flow to work may look differently. And it will take some time to find what works for you. I can work just find in my yoga pants and no makeup. But I do work more efficiently if I start my day with a walk, a cup of coffee, and a decent breakfast. Find what works for you. Note in your work log how you feel throughout the day to help sift out your moods.
I hope this helps! Social distancing does not mean you have to be isolated. Let your community support you and let people know how they can support you in this! Praying for all those having to shift quickly in the face of COVID-19.
Grace and Peace,
PS. A big shout out to my big brother for sharing his wisdom with us! Its a time of sharing resources and I’m thankful that I can share my brother’s wisdom with all of you.