Everyone’s talking about better ways to work from home. I was chatting with a great colleague of mine, the fabulous Kathy Vines of Clever Girl Organizing, who said to me, “What if what we’re really doing is living from work?” She’s so right, as always. While there are lots of great resources available for how to set up physical workspaces, we also need to consider the intangible challenges that come with merging our professional and personal lives under one roof. How do we set effective boundaries, to maximize productivity during office time, and effectively recharge our batteries and spend quality time with our families and on self-care during personal time?
I recently spoke with a new client who is now working from home, like so many of us are. Her company offered all employees a budget of $500 to invest in furniture, supplies, or equipment to make a more effective work from home space. This seems like a great start, but businesses should be looking for other creative ways to support their remote workforces with these challenges.
Here are a few tips I can offer to make “living from work” as manageable as possible:
Communication is key. Be open and direct with your family, supervisor, and co-workers about what you need to make it all work. No meetings on Friday mornings? Quiet time from the kids between 2 and 4pm? Family meetings and regular check-ins with your colleagues to set and maintain boundaries are critical, and we have to get better at saying “no” sometimes.
Don’t try to multitask. Be fully present and unapologetic about it. If your child needs help with a remote school assignment, don’t try to respond to an email on your phone at the same time. Neither task will get done effectively. I’ve stopped bringing my cell phone to the dinner table. Sometimes I hear it “ding” on my desk, and feel like I could be missing something, but the reality is, the 15-20 minutes that my family spends together once a day at the dinner table is more important than any call or text I might receive.
Schedule in time for self-care – exercise, meditation, a healthy lunch, a walk around the block – and protect that time. This is a big challenge for me, and what works best is when I try to sign up for something quick and manageable. A 10-15 minute walk around the block in the middle of the day is refreshing, re-energizing, and restorative – especially when I’m scheduled on Zoom for the bulk of the day.
What is working well for you? I’d love to hear creative ideas for better productivity and balance.