Many of us are now more accustomed to working from home than ever, and what we may have realised during the pandemic is that it isn’t as luxurious and relaxing as we may have once thought. I used to always have friends popping by for coffee when I first started working from home when Emmy was little because I was home with no set hours as such they would see it as an opportunity to catch up. That worked when I was quiet with work, however, once the kids started school full time and I wanted school hours to be my working hours only, it became a little more difficult.
Throw in homeschooling and school holidays into the mix and working from home become super challenging as the children do need our attention, no matter how old they are.
Here are a few ways to ensure you get your work done but also manage to switch off too. Many of us now don’t have that daily commute – which for the average adult in the UK was up to an hour, while that seems a long time for some, it was also a time where you away from your desk/job and the ties of home commitments. During this time you could switch off from both work and home and think of other things, switching off work commitments entirely.
Set Some Ground Rules
If you’re going to have the kids at home with you while you work, you’re obviously going to need to set some ground rules for during work hours. This will allow you to enjoy spending time with them, but not get distracted from your work. Depending on the ages of your children, you may need to make the ground rules more or less explicit. For very young ones, staying within sight of you is a good idea, although might not be practical depending on the layout of your home and where you intend to work.
For teenagers, the ground rules are likely to be much simpler. They will, most likely, want to spend a lot more time in front of a screen than with you, so rules relating to how much screen time they are allowed will certainly come into play. For all children, it is important that they are able to create a sense of independence by not continuously interrupting you while you work. Make sure they understand that the less they interrupt you, the quicker you can finish your work and spend time with them.
Make a plan for after you have finished working and stick to it – whether that be cooking a meal together, a trip to the park or a family games night. Make sure you turn off your laptop and set a time to stop replying to your emails – they will still be there tomorrow.
Master Self Discipline
Self-discipline is one of the biggest problems of modern times. From food consumption to work productivity, humans are some of the worst disciplined creatures on the planet. Make sure you maintain clear time slots and goals for working, whether it be finishing a particular task or work on an ongoing project for several hours. Sticking to these guidelines will allow you to achieve much more than you would if you were constantly deviating from the plan and taking breaks.
Turning off social media during these times really helps – just how many times are you in the middle of a task/post and a notification has pinged through from Facebook, Twitter or even an email? You will then find yourself scrolling aimlessly through your feeds and half an hour or even an hour has disappeared before you realise! – we’ve all done it too often.
Working from home offers a lot of challenges. Temptations are everywhere, as there are so many things we want or need to do at home, playing with our kids being just one of many. Remind yourself of your goals by sticking post-its around your workspace, to bring you back into the moment when you get distracted. It may also help to practice mindfulness or meditation in order to improve your focus and productivity.
Working from home is notoriously difficult, and at times motivating yourself to sit at a desk instead of going for a bike ride with your kids can be really tough. Try to keep yourself motivated by getting up at the same time as you would for work and sticking to a routine. This can sometimes be half the battle, as for many of us a lie-in during the summer holidays is just what we need.
Rewarding yourself with breaks and enjoyable activities is a great way to keep up both your momentum and sense of motivation. It could be a cup of tea or an hour of walking around the park, pop on your walking socks and shoes, and get that much-needed fresh air, but whatever it is make sure you prioritise it as much as you do your other tasks. It will keep up your morale and make you much more productive when you are working.
Make a point of getting out of your PJ’s
It can be all too tempting to stay in your PJ’s all day when working from home, but I feel this personally makes me less productive on the whole.
OK, you don’t need to dress up in your office gear and your heels but jumping into the shower, popping on a fresh set of clothes – it could even be loungewear, actually sets you up for the day. It refreshes you and brings about the boundary of actually working, even if you are at home.
Just because you aren’t going anywhere, doesn’t mean we have to neglect our self-care. But, as no one will see you (unless you’ve a zoom meeting), who says you can’t also pop on a face mask at the same time.
Get Out of the House
If you’re working from a laptop or tablet, it can be a great idea to take advantage of the sunny summer days by taking your kids to the park and sitting on a bench or under a tree as they play nearby. Providing that you don’t need to bring reams of paperwork with you, this is an excellent way to mix up your work routine a little. Don’t forget to take a picnic for your lunch, and take that well-deserved afternoon break to join your kids for a walk.
You can easily do the simple tasks of replying to emails while watching the kids bounce on the trampoline – during the day is the best time to reply to these as those who have sent them will still be behind their desks until 5pm. Dropping a few lines via email doesn’t take too long and it will ensure they receive your response before they go home. I do this during the day and save the actual work which requires time and concentration for the evenings once the children are in bed.
Change out of your workwear
Another ways to define that you’ve stopped working for the day is to actually get changed. Just as you would should you wear a suit to the office, you would change when you got in from work, so perhaps this could help at home too – even if that means popping on your PJ’s and women’s bed socks a little earlier than planned. It could be a perfect time to settle down with the kids and have a movie evening, read some stories or just grab your kindle to unwind a little.
What are your working from home tips? How do you make sure your work still gets done in the holidays?
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