Adapting to a Work from Home Lifestyle
It’s one thing to be working from home, but it’s totally another thing to be working from home with a full house. Recent global events have forced pretty much everyone to adapt to a new way of life, and those of us who have long been running our own small businesses from home are facing struggles we haven’t before. The loss of dedicated work hours and potentially even workspace can have a great impact on productivity and ability to simply get work done. Add in the probability of children climbing all over us and constantly calling for us, it sometimes feels impossible to do anything work related at all.
This is life, however, for the next foreseeable future. We must do what we can, as we can. There is no magic schedule or solution to make it work, but there is one thing we can do: try our best.
Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries
Talk with your family about your need for dedicated working hours. Work out a schedule that allows for each adult in the household who is still working to each have working hours – this does mean that compromises will have to be made. Be clear about expectations and boundaries with your family, your colleagues, and your clients. Make sure that everyone who needs to know your schedule is aware of when you are available and what platforms are the best to connect with you on. Depending on your work environment, look at group chat options and messaging services like Slack where you can be sure to keep up with conversations.
Set Yourself up For Success
This might be a ‘learn as you go’ strategy or it might be one that you already do well. Get your physical and virtual workspace as organized as you can so that you aren’t wasting time looking for things and wondering what the heck it is you are supposed to do during each precious work period you have.
This means clear the clutter from your desk and workspace. Find a new working space if you need to. Create an organized filing system for paperwork and documents. Set up communication channels (see above!). Schedule daily or weekly meetings to touch base with the people you need to be in touch with.
Remove the obstacles from your path that will make it harder to work. As you are going through the next week or two, every time you hit a wall or an obstacle, instead of being frustrated, ask yourself ‘what can I change to help this not happen again?’
(For the record, duct taping your kids to the floor doesn’t count here…)
Get Some Face-to-Face Time on Video
We are social beings who crave connectivity. It doesn’t matter how introverted or extraverted you are, we all need some form of social connection. And right now, that’s not happening. Video calls, however, can be a great way to fill that need. While it might not bring you the same chemical reaction in your brain, it’s a good alternative right now!
Aim to have your colleagues, clients, and customers conduct video calls with you rather than phone calls or even email threads. Being able to see each other while you talk will help to nurture your relationships and ensure that all sides are engaged in the conversation. Zoom is a great tool for this, as are Google Hangout and Facebook Messenger.
Remember to Have Some Fun
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to be doing everything. Working from home, having the kids at home, having your partner at home, trying to homeschool your kids, trying to keep the house up and make all the meals is too much. Way too much.
Understand that you likely are not going to be able to achieve all that you did prior to everyone being at home together. In the midst of all that there is to do, remember one more thing…have some fun. Try to shake off the stress of all the thing and just enjoy some quality time with your family. You’re all in this together, so why not have a little fun too?
You don’t have to be working all day, every day.
Keep Your Mental Health in Mind
Last, but definitely far from least, is keeping your mental health in mind. For many of us, this is a very stressful and uncertain time. It’s easy to slip into anxiety or fear. It takes focus and effort not to go there.
Ensure that you are taking care of yourself both physically and mentally. Eat those veggies. Don’t eat 10 cookies just because they are there. Mind your personal hygiene, wear clothes that you feel good in, get some movement in (we’re not necessarily talking exercise, but just get up and move around the house or neighbourhood), stay connected with your family and friends, and if needed, reach out to a mental health support person. There are several counselling services who are offering free or reduced rates to help people deal with stress and anxiety right now.
One day we are going to look back at this time and understand the things we learned. We are going to appreciate our abilities to adapt, to compromise, and to find joy. We’re going to say “I mastered the art of working from home then.” Because believe us, when this is all done and kids are back at school and the home offices are our kingdoms again, we’re all going to have better and more effective working strategies in place!
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