When’s the last time you said, out loud, “There’s not enough time in a day”?
For me, it was about 30 seconds ago. As a mom who now works from home, I feel like my threshold for exhaustion is maxed out every day. It’s like I am on the show Survivor, but instead of whittling together bridges from coconuts and eating raw fish, I am scavenging the couch cushions looking for my Airpods while juggling Zoom calls and handling issues for my sons.
It is quite a sight.
One of my sons is now at home attending college classes online, which is out of my ordinary routine/setup. Fortunately, the techniques I’m about to share with you have helped me stay productive and calm working from home, even with unanticipated interruptions from other people in the house. Hopefully, you can apply these tools for whatever your “work from home” situation is.
Some of these may work better than others for you, but even if you just take one idea away, you’ll see your productivity increase, even with all the chaos going on around you.
Set Up before you Get Up
When you work from home, the most difficult part is getting started. Since you don’t have the urgency of needing to beat traffic, you don’t have the motivation to move fast.
In the past, after handling family issues and getting the computer turned on, I’d often realize that my home workstation wasn’t organized and ready – computer cord was missing, papers were all over the place, and I didn’t know what time my first call was.
I finally started implementing a nightly routine where I organized and prepped my workstation the night before. The next morning I would arrive at my work area to find my computer open and on “sleep”, my papers organized for that day’s projects, and my entire schedule detailed in my phone’s calendar so that I could approach the day with calm and control
So, at the end of every night, before you go to bed – set up your workstation for the next day. It takes 10 minutes, but you’d be amazed at how much better you feel when you start the day organized.
The Schedule Is Sacred
When you work from home, your mind can easily wander while typing up e-mail“
-“My windows need to be cleaned.”
- “The yard is looking rough.”
And other random thoughts that prevent you from focusing on the work.
Since you don’t have a mental separation between work and home, you have to create a mental separation by creating a schedule and sticking to it. If your “workday” starts at 8 am, then that’s when your “work-mind” starts too. Creating a set schedule (breaks and lunch at certain times, a specific time you “log off” for the day, etc.) keeps you sane by giving you a routine to maintain.
Of course, you’ll have to plan on interruptions, like your child’s computer having technical issues. But overall, having a schedule to follow keeps you focused when you need to be. Remote work can easily make you disorganized, so schedules are critical.
Customize Distractions to Minimize Them
Social media is like a time machine – you start scrolling, and before you know it, you’ve transported ahead 40 minutes, and nothing has been accomplished. I recognized early on that, left to my device, I would scroll until the cows came home.
To fight this urge to check my phone, I customized any notifications I’d get from my family – if my husband or child called/texted me, it would “ding” in a certain way. That customized “ding” would let me know that my family needed me for something and that I should check it. Otherwise, if I didn’t hear that specific ding, I stayed focus on the work task and didn’t get the urge to waste time.
Vacate the Premises
Working from home can be a perk, but the idea of being at home all day for work and then all night can make anyone get cabin fever. Make sure that you schedule time (like in your sacred schedule from #2) to be outside and away from your work. You need to mentally separate your home from your work and being outside can give you the time and space to breathe and mentally unwind.
Working from home can be a dream, but if you don’t do it right, it can become a nightmare. You don’t have to become a hyper-efficient robot to feel productive and accomplished as a remote employee. When you combine a routine for how you set you your workplace physically and how you approach it mentally, you can be productive every day and still have time to slow down and enjoy a break.