Balancing Home and Work Life While Working From Home

Posted by Mary Hallock on Apr 17, 2020 8:53:44 AM

In this new normal, many of us are working from home. Some of us may be old pros and have it all figured out. However, for so many this is brand new. Add to this new home office the fact that you may be sharing it with other people who also have to work from home – roommates, kids, spouses, etc. – and you probably feel pretty unbalanced.

Working from home can have a lot of benefits – you can wear your bunny slippers to work and you don’t have to get in your car and drive to the office. Working from home can also create a lot of stress. We may feel that we have to be accessible constantly. We have a fear that our boss thinks we aren’t working so we have to work even harder. We may have some self-doubts and feel like we have to prove ourselves from afar.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy your new office as well as live peacefully with people at home:

  1. Believe in yourself – You know you are a good worker. You get the job done on time and with high quality. Perhaps you need to check in a little more often than you usually do with either your boss or co-workers to make sure you are providing the results needed. Keep a running list of tasks to make sure you are doing what is expected. Congratulate yourself for a job well done.
  2. Set “guidelines” for others in your living space – Sit down with whoever else is in your living space and establish some guidelines that you can all agree on. You may have to manage who can stream during certain times in order to manage internet bandwidth. Maybe you need to establish a quiet spot where you can hold phone calls and not be disturbed. You might need to establish a schedule for when it is ok to be interrupted and when not. Listen to everyone’s needs and find ways to keep everyone productive.
  3. Establish a schedule – I find this to be the single most important thing to do in order to make sure I keep my life stable. I make sure that turning on the computer and getting right to work is not the first thing I do when I get out of bed. I exercise, shower, eat breakfast then sit down to work. Early on I used to feel glued to my chair all day long (I was worried if I left my computer for even a minute someone would think I wasn’t working). Our minds and bodies need a break at least every 90 mins to 2 hours in order for our productivity to stay up. So, walk outside, get a drink of water, or stretch throughout the day – we let ourselves do this in the office, so why can’t we at home? Also, make sure to set a time to turn everything off. When you are done for the day, turn off your computer and don’t even check your email on your phone (barring something urgent needing to be addressed, of course). You need the break and time to yourself and your loved ones. Almost everything can wait to be addressed the next day. Keep your calendar up to date and make a note of when you are available and when you are not and ask people to respect your desire to work during certain hours.
  4. Have a permanent work space – This might be a challenge if you have a small living space. Can you at least dedicate a small table to be your workspace so you can “leave” for the day? Dedicating a workspace will also help you stay focused. If you are working on the kitchen counter where dirty dishes are stacking up you are very likely to get distracted cleaning the dishes instead of doing your job. In a small living space you may only have one table that will need to function as dining table as well as office table. If so, take time in the morning to clear off non-work materials as part of your start up routine. Then, remove your laptop and work at the end of the day and set it back up as your dining table.
  5. If you snack, make it healthy – One of the biggest temptations while working at home is constant grazing. The kitchen is right there and the food just calls out to you. If you can work away from the kitchen and take breaks away from the kitchen that is best. However, if you just can’t stay away from the fridge, make sure to eat apples, carrots, celery or other healthy snacks. Even those should be eaten in moderation.
  6. Get on a video chat every now and then – No, not the phone, I do mean video. Even the biggest introvert among us needs to have contact with a friendly face every now and then. Whether you connect with co-workers or friends, just make sure you see and talk to people every now and then. Those social connections are so important.

Putting some thought into good at home work practices is worth the effort. It may take some creativity; however it will pay dividends to your sanity.

IMEC is here to help. 
Mary Hallock

Written by Mary Hallock

Topics: leadership, workforce, remote work, COVID-19

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