Few years have had a greater impact on what we do and how we do it than 2020. It has been a stressful time, but a great opportunity to try new methods for achieving the same goals. While the conditions could have been more ideal, we are excited to be able to help guide you through the changes we are currently experiencing in how we live life and do business. Over the next several weeks we will be introducing our “Working From Home Guide” to try and give you steps and ideas of how to make the “new normal” work.
One of the most drastic changes we have experienced over the past few months is working from home. Before Covid-19 about 7% of U.S. employees were working from home. That has now jumped up to around 60% with no end in sight. The magnitude of these changes was felt even more if you have kids now doing school from home as well. Being able to multitask and find work/life balance was never an easy chore and the pandemic has made it even more difficult. We would be lying if we did not acknowledge how big of a challenge this has been to not only be productive at work, but also helping your kids be productive in school while still living a “normal” life that does not revolve around either of those things.
Through the next few paragraphs, we will be providing you details, tips and resources to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone in your household.
The first things first
It's important to realize is that “multitasking”—at least the way we commonly define it (being able to do multiple things all at once) does not exist. It is important you do not beat yourself up because you can not do three or more things at once. No one can. What you can do however, is break your day up into manageable pieces to accomplish as much as humanly possible while still achieving high quality work.
Before your work week starts take some time to think about what you absolutely must finish in the coming days (these are typically bigger projects) and block out specific time to focus on them in a calendar. Most experts suggest the more complex components of your job should be completed earlier in your workday if possible when you brain power is at its height after a night’s sleep and breakfast. From there block out time for filler work that may come up throughout the day like emails, conference calls and time for breaks to re-energize. You can even schedule household chores like laundry or vacuuming and time to check on your kids and their schoolwork. By doing this, you give yourself ample time to complete projects because everything is organized where you can see what needs to be done and when.
Turn off Notifications
Turning notifications for social media and emails (yes, even work emails) off is a must to help cut down on distractions and keep you productive. We have all been in the middle of big project that requires our utmost attention when someone says something clever on Twitter that we think we need to check, or we see there is a new email from a client that we rush to answer. Almost always these are things that can wait to not disrupt your flow of thinking where it is needed most. This is also where blocking out specific times to handle specific tasks and managing your time comes in handy. It forces you to stay focused, while also helping train your clients to respect your time and that you will get back to them even if it is not always at the drop of a hat.
Maintaining some sense of your “normal” routine as if you were still going into the office is necessary to stay productive while working at home. Get up and get dressed as you normally would. During time you would normally spend commuting to the office instead take the time to sip your coffee and read the paper or eat breakfast and talk with your kids. However, one thing you should try and eliminate from your morning routine if you can is checking your phone first thing. While the blue light emitted can be great for helping to wake you up, seeing a bunch of unanswered emails, or even negative news stories out of the gate can make you feel more stressed before you even start working.
The “commuting” process is important because it gives you time to wrap your head around the idea of working for the day and allows you to ease into it. Another aspect of trying to normalize an abnormal work situation is to set up a dedicated work/office area. As tempting as it is to get comfy on the couch or in bed those places do not bode well for productivity and make it harder to have work/life balance.
Here are 8 ideas to help get you started:
Be sure to think about what you like aesthetically and incorporate it into your design plans.
Consider Feng Shui practices for positioning your furniture to keep energy high.
If you can, incorporate the color green; it promotes calmness and creativity.
Make sure your space has proper lighting!
Consider furniture that allows you to switch from standing and sitting throughout the day.
Keep your space clean and organized. Clutter is distracting.
Speaking of distractions—try to choose a space away from everyone else in your house.
Fresh air is good. Windows, dusting, and houseplants are easy ways to increase air quality.
Call it Quits
Be sure to set a dedicated quit time. It can be tempting to keep working until everything is finished, or start on a task that comes after hours, but do not do it. You need to have separate time that is for working and family/personal matters. You are not superhuman and no one expects you to go above and beyond work hours when you have other parts of your life to attend to. It is ok to know your limits and set them, even working from home during a pandemic.
Looking for more ideas to help you create a work/life balance schedule that is conducive to you? Please follow the links below: