How many mornings have you shut off that alarm, wishing you could just work from home in your PJs? Well now many of us are getting our wish thanks to COVID-19.
While in theory working from home may seem ideal, the reality for many of us is that it’s, well, kind of a pain. Particularly if you have young children home from school and daycare that you now have to teach and supervise while still keeping productive at work.
The fact is, this sudden and unexpected disruption to our daily lives has many of us feeling stressed!
Here are some expert tips on coping effectively while working from home.
1. Find a Hideout
If you don’t have a dedicated home office, you’ll want to figure something out. Having the right space at home will help you focus on the task at hand. It will also automatically set boundaries with family and help you cope more effectively while working from home.
Do you have a spare room you can use? Is there an area in your finished basement that could work?
Truth is, the space itself doesn’t have to be too big or fancy; I’ve taken over our basement bathroom that was in the midst of a renovation and moved in a chair, lamp and tv tray to get my work done without interruptions.
2. Keep Your Regular Schedule
You may want to treat the next 2-3 weeks as a sort of family vacation, but it’s best if you and the kids stick to your regular routines to help cope effectively while working from home. That means getting up and going to bed at the same time, showering, getting dressed and having breakfast as you normally would. Meal planning is a real plus too!
Your kids are also trying to adjust to a new normal. Keeping younger kids on their nap schedule is important, so you can have uninterrupted time to focus on your work while they rest.
If you have older kids, make sure they know what to expect. Sit down together and plan our your day. Make sure they know what they can do to keep busy for those times that you are unavailable.
Here is a list of activities to keep them busy while you are getting some work done.
3. Focus and Take Breaks
Ever heard of the pomodoro technique?
There are six steps in the original technique:
- Decide on the task to be done.
- Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
- Work on the task.
- End work when the timer rings and put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
- If you have fewer than four checkmarks, take a short break (3–5 minutes), then go to step 2.
- After four pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
This way of breaking your day up into blocks of focused work and breaks can help increase productivity and keep your kids on track too by giving them only a short time they need to keep themselves busy.
If you have a partner at home who can switch off ‘kid duties’ with you, try alternating who is doing pomodoros and who is keeping an eye on the kids. This one hack might be exactly what you need to cope more effectively while working from home.
4. Set the Bar Low
You do not have to be the next Mary Poppins! It is really hard to work at home with your kids out of school and daycare.
No, your house won’t be as tidy as you like. Now that kids are home 24/7 there is so much more opportunity for messes to be made!
Yes, they will likely have more screen time and junk food than they would ordinarily eat.
It’s so hard, especially if you lean towards perfectionism, to let things go. But this is a marathon and not a sprint! Perfectionism leads to increased stress, self-criticism and emotional exhaustion. We don’t know how quickly this will all come to an end.
Keep the bar low and learn to practice greater self-compassion, focusing on self-care and prioritize your most important relationships.
5. Know When to Quit
Now that there are virtually no boundaries between your work and home life, it is easy to get sucked into working longer hours than you intend.
Sometimes people use work as a distaction, which, given the current circumstances, might be an easy trap to fall into.
Other times, people get caught up in their work without the natural interruptions such as daycare pick ups and afterschool activities that force and end to the work day.
While working from home it’s important to have a set end time and stick to it. Have a friend or partner hold you accountable if this is something you struggle with.
If after reading this you feel that you’d benefit from some additional support with managing the stresses of work/life balance, don’t hestitate to reach out. I offer free 15 minute consultation appointments so we can make sure we’ll be a good fit. All of my appointments are being done online through a secure video platform or by phone for people who live anywhere in Nova Scotia.