With so many people now finding themselves working from home due to social distancing, while their families are also home with them, I thought I would share my experience on managing this, as someone who has been working from home for more than 15 years as a transcriptionist, while home-schooling my son for several years, and also more recently, selling Avon and blogging.
While working from home has many benefits, it also comes with a lot of challenges. How do you keep yourself motivated to keep working each day when the couch is calling? How do you balance your home/work life when they both take place at the same address? How do you keep from getting distracted by your family or other household tasks?
Over the years, I have found that some of the keys to successfully working from home are establishing routines, a separate space, and a few rules. Here are some that I’ve established over the years.
Set Up Your Workspace: If at all possible, set up a workspace in a separate room where you can close the door and work with minimal interruption. I know this is not always possible, but definitely designate a permanent workspace somewhere in your house. A separate room wasn’t possible for me, so I have a desk in my living room. I’ve had different types of desks and set-ups over the years, but eventually was able to find a desk that is somewhat like an armoire, but larger, so that I can close the doors to my “office” when I’m done. For me this was a permanent situation, so it warranted a more elaborate set up. If working from home is just a temporary situation for you, then you mostly likely don’t want to go that far, but definitely set up a designated space for your work, even if it’s just a makeshift desk or table for now.
This led me to my first rule:
My desk is absolutely only for me and my work, and is not for anything else: Be sure to establish the fact that this is your work desk and should be treated by your family as such. This can help keep the little ones or your significant other from doing things such as spilling their drink on, or doodling on your important paperwork, or cluttering up your workspace with random items. This will also help establish a visual “working” mindset for you and your family when they see you in your designated workspace.
My Second Rule: Since my desk is in the living room and I have done transcription for many years, that led me to my second rule. No TV on during work hours. I only play music at a low volume when I’m not transcribing, and the TV in the living room is only allowed on after work. For me, it was not only impossible to properly hear when transcribing with the TV on, but I also found that, even when I’m working on things besides transcription, it’s just too distracting and also makes the couch look way too tempting.
Next came establishing some routines:
Routines are absolutely the key to working from home. The following are some of the routines I currently follow or have followed over the years.
Morning/Self-Care Routine: I have found this to be one of the most important routines. I truly believe that this particular routine has been essential to my “mindset” for the day, so I always follow my morning/self-care routine.
If you find you have more time in the morning now, follow a more relaxed version of what you did when you went out to work every day, but absolutely establish a morning/self-care routine. At the minimum, shower and get dressed. Obviously, make up, high heels and/or a suit may no longer be necessary, but definitely get dressed and follow your skin care routine, (men too), and speaking of men, shave your face, if that’s what you did when you worked outside of the home.
And even though it’s probably now okay to wear something comfortable every day, it’s important to still get dressed in at least some “casual, outside of the house clothes” such as jeans and a t-shirt. This will help you to feel “ready” for your day and ready to tackle your daily tasks.
Work Routine: If your family is home with you and your work requires your complete attention and focus, take some time to talk with your family and make sure they understand this. It will be easier for them to follow this if you maintain established times that you will be working. This way they will know each day when they need to entertain themselves or do their schoolwork, et cetera, and this will help them establish routines for themselves as well.
Break Routines: Don’t forget to take breaks! Those of us working from home find ourselves spending most of our workday at a desk. It’s easy to forget to take breaks or skip them altogether to try and get your work done faster. I know this seems like an advantage at first because you can get done with work earlier and have the rest of the day free. But, skip breaks and chances are you’ll feel completely exhausted from sitting non-stop at a desk for hours at the end of your workday.
Plus, doing this is really bad for you health. It’s important to get up and stretch for a minute or two, at least every hour or so. This will help keep your “blood and energy flowing”. Be sure to also take at least a full 15-minute break away from your desk every couple of hours. And don’t forget to take a minimum half-hour lunch away from your desk.
Meal Routines: Being home all day can definitely lead to eating more than you normally would. Instead of just randomly reaching in the fridge when the mood strikes, create a meal and snack routine. If you previously worked outside of your home, try to keep it similar to the routine you had before you were home.
Bonus: If you find yourself now having more more time for meals, use the extra time to prepare something healthier and/or cheaper than you normally may have chosen due to lack of time. You can also use the extra time to connect with your family and make all your meals family-time meals, instead of just dinner.
Cleaning Routines: Keep your usual cleaning routines going, but of course, the times can be adjusted to fit your work-from-home schedule. Just try to avoid the temptation of spending your entire lunch hour or breaks cleaning. Try to take some time to relax, stretch, de-stress and enjoy your food! And if your kids are home with you now, don’t forget to get the kids involved in helping out around the house more while they’re not in school. It can help keep them busy while you’re working and establish some routines for them as well.
Bonus: If you find that you have more time for cleaning now, maybe tackle some organizing projects. When was the last time you cleaned out your bathroom medicine cabinet or makeup/personal care drawers and cupboards?
Self-Care/De-stress Routine: I think this is even more important than usual at this time. You may feel overwhelmed and stressed right now, which can often lead to neglecting yourself while taking care of those around you. Just remember that they tell you on an airplane to put your oxygen mask on first, and then put it on your loved ones. That’s because you need to be able to breathe in order to take care of those you love, so be sure to take some time out each day to take care of yourself and breathe. Take up meditation or yoga, go for a walk around the block, take a long bubble bath, give yourself a mini spa treatment with a face mask or peel, or even take a nap. The choice is yours of course, but be sure to take some time to do this for yourself each day.
And last, but definitely not least:
Family Fun Time Routine: Try to establish some family fun time each day. This can be essential right now, as it can really help your entire family feel more happy, optimistic and relaxed. Play cards or board games, watch a movie, do arts and crafts, go for a walk, build a fort, et cetera. Whatever you choose to do, just be sure to spend some time having fun together as a family.
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The owner/author of this blog is an Avon Independent Representative. This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. The opinions on this site are solely my opinions.