Many of us are into a month of COVID-19 social distancing, which means working from home, if we can. I’m used to being efficient from a home office, but this new normal is still not normal, especially if your kids are home, too. Because my experience has primed me with a head start, I’ve put together seven tips for working from home that can help.
Check your privilege. Many people can’t have the benefit of working from home. It might not feel like you’re lucky when you’re balancing all of your new demands, but having internet access and a computer are privileges in themselves. Having the kind of job that still pays you and has remote capability and flexibility is a fortunate situation. Start from a place of gratitude.
Know that your destination is the same. The way you’re getting there looks different, but you still have the same deliverables/outcomes/goals. Understanding that you’re heading to the same objectives helps you keep perspective that it’s not all that different at the core.
Get dressed. People who aren’t used to working from home like to joke about how great it must be to work in your pajamas. That’s funny for about a day. For those of us who do it often, we know your mindset can be so much more productive when you’re not freshly rolled out of bed. Getting dressed is a signal to you, and everybody in your household, that you’re at work. You might be home, but it’s not a day off.
Have a dedicated workspace. If you’re lucky enough to have an extra room with a door, that’s ideal. If not, then even clearing out a corner or part of a dining table and having that be the dedicated office space will go a long way. You’re not on the couch, on your bed or on the floor. It signals to everybody that you’re physically in a working space, and that’s where your mind is, too.
Set up office hours. My kids’ teachers have office hours where they’re available for video interactions at certain times of day. Mommy office hours work like that, too. We have scheduled times that the kids can come and ask questions or get help. If they get stuck on something, they put it aside for office hours.
Keep a schedule. This one works well for us, because we’re used to keeping routines in our days, even during regular times. My kids appreciate those guideposts, and it helps the day progress with purpose. This isn’t to say have no flexibility. But we all like knowing it’s morning work time, class time, lunchtime, snacktime, reading time, creative time, afternoon work time, outside time, etc. Look at it this way: You can control what you can, and predictability is power.
Do your best. Everybody works differently, and circumstances vary. As long as you’re getting it done, don’t agonize over little things. Give yourself some grace, and extend some to your professional community, too. We’re in it together, and we’ll get through it fine. -rvb