Working from home has many advantages (flexibility! no commute to work!), however it does not come without challenges. I’ve spent my entire career working from home, and while I am grateful I’ve been able to do this, there are definitely days when I would give anything for uninterrupted time in an office.
Whether working from home is your norm or your new normal, here are some tips for making the most of it whilst juggling family demands on the side.
1. Get dressed
Even if you’re not leaving your house; even if you don’t have any video calls on the day’s agenda; take some time in the morning to transition from home mode to work mode. Getting out of your pyjamas and getting dressed is a great (and familiar) way to do this. I find it helps me feel more focused, organised and ready for work.
2. Start with a To-Do List
Write down all the things you need to accomplish that day and cross them off as you go. Writing down a daily list helps me to prioritise and stay focused, even when there are distractions around me.
3. Keep focused
When you work from home, there are always interruptions — whether it’s the mailman knocking at your door, the laundry machine beeping at you or your children asking for something — there will be distractions. Obviously you have to answer the door for the mailman, but try to get back to your desk immediately after. Don’t get distracted on your way back. It’s okay to ignore the washing machine and leave the dishes in the sink for later. If you’re juggling kids at home, try to stay focused on each task: when you’re eating with your kids, focus on your kids (try to avoid answering emails or checking social media). When you’re at your desk, be as productive as you can be. Again, avoid your social media, don’t answer calls or texts from friends. Time at your desk is super valuable and you should try to be as productive as you can in those precious windows.
4. If possible, create a designated working space
We are lucky to have a little garden studio, separate from the main house. While I still do occasionally work from the dining table, I know that I am much more productive when I’m sitting at my desk, out in the work ‘zone’. I also like having a bit of designated desk space to keep the notes I’m writing or the books I’m researching out without having to clear them off a table every afternoon. If you don’t have a designated office space, try to give yourself a small desk or even a cupboard to host your computer, diary, notes and books. (I have a friend who put a small desk in the back of a walk-in closet; she hung a big calendar, put up a shelf for books, and it’s really impressive how organised her little space is!)
5. Know when to be reasonable
There are times when your child needs you or when you need to close your computer and put your focus 100% on your family. The benefit of working from home is that you can be flexible. If you don’t get as much work done during the day as you had hoped, perhaps you will need to carve out an hour in the evening after the kids have gone to bed to complete your to-do list for that day.