Our homes are supposed to be an escape from reality. A safe place we can go to unwind from the stresses of the day, be that from work or from life as a whole. But when this place of comfort becomes your work space, it can be a difficult process to navigate.
These tips can help you maintain a sense of routine and find balance when working from home, whether you’re sharing the space with a roommate, a partner, or a pet.
Wake up on the right side of the bed.
Without the pressure of rush hour traffic, it can be tempting to allow yourself to sleep long past your typical wake-up time. However, you should be mindful not to. Try your best to not reset your alarm to a later time. If you don’t usually have time for breakfast, use these extra minutes to prepare something nourishing for yourself, or for some mindful meditation to start your day right.
Set up a designated space.
If you’re lucky enough to have an office in your home, make sure it is primed for productivity by removing any and all distractions. This includes a television, games, and your phone. By keeping these items out of sight, you’ll be less likely to reach for them. You should, however, fill the room with things that bring you joy and a sense of positive energy, such as plants and aromatherapy candles or wax-melters.
Ditch the pajamas.
Yes, it might be more comfortable to take meeting calls from your sweatpants. But changing out of your loungewear into something more work appropriate will help put you in the mindset to be able to get your work done. If you look professional, you’ll feel professional.
That being said, if you feel like your legs need stretching, don’t be afraid to take a walk, whether around the house or down the street. The activity is sure to give you a burst of energy and can keep you from feeling tired. You can also opt to work a few hours outdoors.
Take scheduled breaks.
Do you normally have breakfast at 9 a.m., take a fifteen-minute break at 11 a.m., eat lunch at 1:30 p.m., and take another short break at 3 p.m.? This shouldn’t change just because you’re at home. Do your best to maintain the schedule you’re used to. This includes the time you break for lunch, and other time you spend away from your desk. Get up and move around. It’ll help you be more productive when you return.
With those basics down, here are a few more tips to benefit you in specific work-from-home scenarios.
Working with a roommate or partner
- Most important, set boundaries and expectations from the start. It’s like anything else in your relationship, if you don’t speak up right away, animosity will build. Be clear about what you need to be able to work from home successfully, and they should do the same with you.
- Maintain separate work spaces if possible. Avoid sitting in shared spaces usually reserved for conversation, TV watching, etc.
- If you have a meeting or like listening to music while you work, wear headphones. When your coworker is talking loudly it can be frustrating—the same goes when you’re at home.
- Don’t schedule breaks around each other. If you are able to break at the same time (and want to) that’s fine, but don’t adjust your routine to fit theirs, and vice versa.
Working with a child
- Set goals for the day, but be adaptable. You know better than anyone that children can be unpredictable. Make a list of two to three things you know you can accomplish and a list of things you hope to accomplish. By not overwhelming your to-do list, you’re better setting yourself up for a successful day.
- Use ingenuity when planning activities for kids to do. If you have someone else at home that can supervise, have them work on a time-consuming activity such as an art or science project, that will free up some of your workday.
- Plan meals as if you were sending the kids to school. Making breakfast and lunch ahead of time can save so much of your day, and if your children are old enough to serve themselves, it allows them to grab food whenever they get hungry without having to interrupt you.
- Don’t be afraid of screen time. Although it’s recommended to limit screen time with children, online educational tools and programs can keep little ones content for hours at a time. Just be sure to take a midday break for some fresh air, if possible, or encourage fun movement with yoga or dancing.
Working with a pet
- Dogs will likely be extremely excited for the extra attention, making it difficult for you to get work done. They are probably also used to you waking up at a specific time, making it extra important for you to maintain your normal schedule as closely as possible.
- Try and take your dog for a slightly longer walk than he or she is used to in the morning. This can help them release pent up energy and prevent a bad case of mid-afternoon “zoomies.”
- Cats are notoriously nosy, and if you’re having trouble keeping yours off your keyboard—especially if you’re working off a laptop—try not to keep it on your lap. You could also consider closing the door to the room you’re in while working.
- Maintain your pet’s feeding schedule as best as you can. If he or she is used to being fed first thing in the morning, stick to that schedule as to not throw them off and encourage begging at inconvenient hours, such as during an important meeting or phone call.