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How to make things run a little more smoothly while working from home
Love it or hate it, you’ve been given the go-ahead to work at home during a crisis.
Don’t worry, you will get through it!
I’ve been working from home off and on since my eldest daughter was just a couple months old, and I have continued to do so even after the birth of my second daughter.
I’m in the “love it” category of work from home parents. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, though. It can be downright hard at times.
Here are my top work from home tips for those of you who have been forced to work at home during a crisis.
(Even if you “love it” like I do, you might still benefit from these ideas!)
Tips for practicing self care even when you have to work at home
1. Stop and take a deep breath
This was tossed at you with little to no preparation. Suddenly, your routine is thrown out of whack (possibly with kids interrupting you every two seconds).
Plus, you still have to take care of the house and come up with meal ideas using whatever you can find in the pantry.
Feeling stressed about how you’re going to do it all? First of all, stop right now to close your eyes and take a deep breath. Let yourself relax for a minute.
Know that there will be some difficult moments, but everything will work out.
When I find myself getting tense because emails are pouring in and the kids need attention, it helps to stop what I’m doing and take a breather. And then I start planning out the order of things that need my attention.
2. Find ways to exercise and get fresh air
It is all too easy to get into a rut when you start working from home. The gyms may be temporarily closed, but exercising when you have to work from home is still important.
Fresh air and exercise will not only help you feel better when you’re stuck at home, but it’ll help increase productivity.
The time you would normally spend commuting to work is a great time to sneak in a quick workout.
Don’t have exercise equipment at home? There are tons of free exercise videos on YouTube.
Or, spend one or two of your breaks taking a quick walk (keeping your distance from other people, of course). Better yet, ask the others in your household to join you!
The exercise and fresh air will feel great after being cooped up in the house.
3. Keep your bottle of water nearby
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time drinking enough water when I’m at home. At the office, I always had a bottle of water on my desk, so I sipped it all day long.
Even though you’re working from home, it’s still important to drink enough to quench your thirst. Fill your water bottle as usual and keep it near your work station, wherever that may be.
Related: 8 Easy Self-Care Ideas for Busy Moms.
Tips to make the transition to working from home easier
4. Set up a comfortable work space
I’ve worked from home in a number of different houses (yes, we move a lot!). In some homes, I’ve had a full office, while in others I only had the couch or kitchen table to use as my work space.
Wherever you end up, make that space as comfortable as possible.
Ideally, you’ll have a comfortable office chair. If you’re stuck with a hard kitchen chair, consider adding a pillow or cushion for comfort.
Of course, you’ll want somewhere to place your desktop or laptop and your phone, printer, and any other devices.
What else? Make your temporary work from home office a space that you enjoy.
Decorate it with pictures or items that you love or that inspire you. After all, you’ll be spending a lot of time here over the coming weeks!
5. Let people know you’re working from home
Now more than ever, people will understand. When getting on a phone call, let them know you’re working from home temporarily, and that you might have children or pets making noise in the background.
If you’re on a conference call, you can always mute the phone when you’re not talking.
When my eldest daughter was a baby, this was an area I really struggled in, and I suspect that you might too.
I was scared that she was going to start crying when I was in the middle of a call. And she did!
But, so what? You’re working from home, and you’re also taking care of your kids. You’re doing the best you know how.
If things get really crazy, simply let them know you’ll call back when things calm down.
Work from home tips to increase productivity
6. Stick to a routine even when you have to work at home
It might not be the exact same routine you had before all the craziness of having to work at home started.
But set your alarm and get up, shower and get dressed, have some breakfast…whatever you need to do before getting started. Then try to start working at the same time every day.
When I worked remotely for an employer, I started working much earlier than I normally started at the office, because I knew I would have a lot more interruptions.
It helped that I didn’t have to commute and drop kids off at daycare.
I also try to make lunch around the same time every day. It’s always a good idea to end your work around the same time, although if you had a lot of interruptions during the day, you might find yourself working a little later.
I try to devote my attention to my family in the evenings, but sometimes I end up working a little once they are asleep.
7. Close out of your email when working on other tasks
I have always found it to be stressful watching the emails pour in while I’m working on other tasks.
It’s hard to resist sending a quick response to just one email…which then sends you down the rabbit hole.
Just close out of your inbox, and only check/respond to messages during designated times.
8. Prepare lots of activities for the kids
After being stuck at home for weeks, the kids are going to be restless, no matter their ages. And you won’t be able to give them your full attention if you have to work at home.
This is where planning ahead is key. Prepare LOTS of activities to keep them busy! I have put together little boxes with various activities, such as paint sticks and play doh, kinetic sand, puzzles, and so on.
If you have school age kids, homeschool work might keep them busy for a little while, but they will soon get bored. Consider your kids’ ages and interests when planning out activities for them.
Balancing work and family when working at home
9. Take regular breaks and give your family your full attention
It’s easy to get sucked into your work when you’re working from home.
But if you have kids, you’ll soon find them vying for your attention. I frequently find myself with a kid on my lap, even nursing my youngest while typing with one hand.
It’s impossible to give your family and your work the attention they deserve when you’re trying to do both at once. The key is to take frequent breaks and, when you can, give your kids your full attention.
It’s still going to be hard at times, but I think you will find that it goes much more smoothly when you do so.
10. Keep in touch with family and friends with video chat
Social distancing doesn’t mean complete isolation!
Even though you’re stuck at home, you can still keep in touch with family and friends via video chat. With the technology available to us today, it’s so much easier to see and talk to other people without leaving the house.
What ways have you found to survive having to work at home, whether during the pandemic or another crisis?