Working from home is more flexible, check out these tips to create balance!
Written By: Jennifer Dugan, Chief Family Officer – Dugan’s Travels
For the past 25 years, I have worked from home. In fact, except for when I worked for a corporate agency, I’ve done all my work from my home.
When I first started the work-from-home journey, my “office” was not really established. I worked from my living room, kitchen, laundry room (that was interesting if the washer or dryer was in use!). I now have a dedicated location in my home that has improved my ability to get my work done. However, I still often struggle with the interruptions and distractions from the other people in my home.
It used to be screaming babies and toddlers demanding my attention. Now the older children are screaming while playing on the Xbox My husband is also home now and he is often doing yard work outside my office window. I get the occasional pop-in to my office to ask a quick question, which is fine unless I am trying to concentrate on something. I then lose all focus on what I was doing and have to start over.
Losing focus is a common problem when working from home. I have tried to remedy the situation by hanging a sign on my office door and locking it when I am in a meeting. My family has complained that I use that more often than necessary. I have tried to reason with them and explain that interruptions break my focus, which disrupts my schedule and productivity. Sometimes they understand; other times they think I’m locking myself away unnecessarily.
Working at home during the summer further complicates this issue, as the children are at home more. Even when school is in session, it’s only for six hours, so I try to get my work done during that time. Oftentimes, I work late at night to compensate for the lost time during the day.
There are some things that at-home workers can do to make their workdays more efficient and productive, despite the outside disturbances that arise.
Maintain a daily work routine as if you worked outside the home
Get up at the same time each day and get dressed. Eat breakfast, then head to your office space.
Establish your work location
Although laptops and mobile phones make it easy to work from your couch or virtually any location, having a set work space can promote more productivity. You’ll also be less likely to get distracted.
Many home workers, including myself, struggle with getting away from their keyboards. If possible, take a walk. Get some fresh air. Stretch. You’d be surprised how much it helps to recharge your body and mind.
When having online meetings, turn on your video camera
Seeing the other meeting participants connects you with the outside world. It reminds you that you’re dealing with people, not just inanimate subjects. It can help you to remember you have people who count on you to get your job done.
Keep regular work hours as much as possible
Your customers and clients need to know when you are available. If you sometimes work outside those hours, particularly late at night, you might want to schedule emails to send at a later date/time. This will help prevent customers from assuming you’re available during those off hours.
Avoid distractions, like TV
I do often like to have my TV on for background noise, but it must be set on programs that will not draw my attention away from my work. If you find that happening, you might be better off keeping the TV off completely.
Set boundaries between your work life and home life
Working from home is more flexible, but if you find yourself getting distracted trying to combine the two, you’ll need to set priorities. Explain your goals and expectations to household members so they are clear on when you’re available. Avoid self-imposed guilt over house cleaning or other chores during normal working hours.
Take a little time for yourself
A great time to allow for this is during what would be your commute time if working outside the home. Use this time to meditate or exercise. Take a power nap. Call your best friend. Anything that regenerates you can do wonders for your mental and physical well-being.
The bottom line is, you can successfully work from home. But it requires setting boundaries for you and the people in your life.