You Can Effectively Work From Home — Even With Your Kids Being There
As we head into the back half of summer with CoronaVirus surging, at least here in the US, many professionals are facing the reality that in the near term they will continue to be working and in some cases educating from home.
Numerous posts and articles have been written about the burden this poses to parents who are having to meet the demands of their jobs, while also ensuring their kids keep up with their education. It is no small task, especially for those who have elementary-aged children.
Fifteen years ago I made the choice to leave my corporate job and my corporate office and start my own business, which meant working from my home. To be sure it was an adjustment as at the time our four children ranged from 9 to 3 years old and both my wife and I worked (she out of the home).
Since that time, I have learned and adapted to ensure that I am highly efficient and effective in my home office and I have listed my best tips below as working from home may very well be the new normal.
Keep a Strict Schedule
One of my biggest challenges, when I began working from home, was keeping a schedule. There were so many distractions just waiting to pull me away from my work and I found that I was quite ineffective.
This is when I decided to define a schedule and stick to it.
I begin work at the same time every morning, this starts by getting up at a consistent time and “getting ready for work” just as I would if I were heading to the office. I have certain times during the day I will check email, when I write, when I work on client deliverables and of course I have the obligatory calls and meetings.
Having this defined schedule brings structure which creates efficiency.
When you have kids at home, as I did when I first started, include them into the schedule (I had certain days my youngest went to pre-school), not having one leaves too much to the ebb and flow of the day which is a recipe for being unproductive and ultimately frustration.
Take a Few Breaks
I have spoken to many who have told me they are tied to their computers since the pandemic has forced the work from home movement. While it is easy to do given your laptop is just steps away, the reality is that working more will not lead to accomplishing more.
All of us have ultradian rhythms which in short means that we have a limit on how hard we can mentally work and that limit is 90–120 minutes. After that, our brains need a break (15–20 minutes) to refresh and dump the mental debris that we have accumulated.
As part of your schedule, build in your mental breaks. Go for a short walk, make a snack, grab a drink of water, or check-in on your kids and their school work. If you make the choice to align with your natural rhythms, your focus will improve and don’t be surprised if you end up accomplishing more in less time.
Create a Ritual to Disconnect
“I find myself using the time I used to commute to working more, I cannot disconnect”
This is a line from a LinkedIn post I recently read from one who was struggling to disconnect from his work. A common refrain I have heard from many.
It is for this reason, I have created a ritual for myself.
At the end of each day, which is built into my schedule, I turn off my monitor, close my laptop and declare out loud “I am done”. This is a small but significant trigger that allows me to mentally disconect from work.
Your ritual does not have to be grand, but it should be defined as it will have a big impact and allow you to achieve better balance.
Patience, Grace and Understanding
All of us are looking to adapt to a very fluid situation that seems to change on a day-to-day basis. No matter the siutation, patience, flexibility and understanding from employers, managers and employeees will go a long way to getting the most from our work at home environments.
Stay safe and productive my friends!
Stay safe my friends!