In the past few months, about half of working Americans started working from home as a result of COVID-19. For those of us who can work remotely, this is the “new normal”—but it may still feel anything but normal.
We know it can be difficult to find a work-life balance when there isn’t a clear separation between your job and your personal life. With kids, an unpredictable work schedule, and a house full of distractions, it’s sometimes hard to stay productive or feel satisfied with your job. But, here in California and throughout the country, returning to “business as usual” will be a slow process. Many of us could be working remotely for the foreseeable future.
Remember, the ability to work from the safety of home is a privilege most people don’t have. And by taking a practical, disciplined approach that’s tailored to your job and lifestyle, you can make it a whole lot easier. These tips can help:
1. Set Up a Home Office
Setting up a home office is an important way to get serious about working from home. Create a dedicated space—even if it’s just a desk in the corner of your bedroom—with good Wi-Fi reception, a comfortable chair, and all the equipment and materials you need within easy reach.
2. Dress for Work
We all love the idea of working in our PJs, but taking the time to dress for work makes you look more professional over video conference calls, and it’s a reminder to your family—and more importantly, yourself—that it’s a workday.
3. Plan with Your Family
Right now, juggling work and family can be complicated. Don’t make assumptions about who handles childcare. Talk to your spouse or partner about their needs and coordinate your schedules. If there’s a time when both you and your partner need to work, talk to older kids in advance to set expectations, and consider giving younger children a special toy or limited screen time to keep them occupied.
Communicate your need for quiet and privacy while working, and let your family know when you’ll be available to talk or play.
4. Coordinate with Your Job
Depending on your job, you may have some work schedule flexibility. While project deadlines and meeting times are firm, you may be able to complete work first thing in the morning or late at night in order to have more freedom to step away from work during the day as needed. Talk to your boss and coworkers about scheduling needs.
If you have young children, plan meetings or times of high productivity around your kids’ naptime or when your partner can watch them. Remember, you’ll be more productive with one hour of focused work time than with three hours of distracted time.
5. Create a Schedule
We know it can be difficult to follow a strict routine, but strive to follow a fixed schedule: Start and finish work at the same time each day and schedule a lunch hour and short breaks at specific times. But, know that you’ll sometimes need to be flexible if family needs or other responsibilities arise.
6. Stay Connected
Loneliness can be a challenge when you’re disconnected from the camaraderie of the workplace. You’re not alone. Take time to connect with coworkers by phone or video chat. Reaching out to see how a coworker is doing can make a big difference, both for them and for you.
7. Eat Healthy & Get Outdoors
With new stressors and less predictability in your work week, healthy habits can fall by the wayside, especially if you’re working just a few steps from your refrigerator. Make a point of eating healthy (and only at meals or during scheduled breaks), getting a full night’s sleep, and getting fresh air and exercise each day. Here are some tips to support the health of your mind and body during a time of remote work and social distancing.
8. Accept Imperfection
Things won’t always go as planned. Your toddler will throw a tantrum while you’re on a conference call. Your kids will get upset that you can’t play with them all day. Your internet will go out. Remember, many of us are experiencing the same challenges while working from home. Your coworkers will understand.
9. Simplify Household Chores
Do less laundry by wearing things more than once. Make sure everyone picks up after themselves and that dishes are loaded into the dishwasher right away instead of piling in the sink. Assign chores to your kids.
By reducing household work, you can help boost your family’s quality of life and your ability to work from home successfully.
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