How to juggle the working at home schedule
Covid has changed the way we work for ever, and while working form home has plenty of benefits it can take a lot to get used to. Throw in remote learning, hot desking in your kitchen and sharing the house with other people while you are trying to get work done – it can certainly be very challenging.
The team here at Optimal have made a list of a few things that have worked best for us. There is no one way but we hope by sharing our experiences thus far we will help you embrace working from home and have the work life balance we all strive for.
1. Stick to a Routine
Set your hours. If you are normally in the office at 8:00am then aim to do this whilst you are working from home. Same goes if you finish at 4pm then make sure you finish for the day and log off, otherwise you will just continue working and you won’t get a break.
Get dressed and do your usual morning routine. As nice as it is sitting in your Pj’s on the couch working… how productive will you actually be?
If you are not alone in the house and potentially juggling home-schooling as well, you might have to lay some ground rules about quiet times, meetings, and desk sharing.
2. Create a to-do-list
If you are anything like me; you sit down, then notice hmmm that washing should be folded and put away, and before you know it you have spring cleaned the house and have not even completed all your work tasks. We are huge fans of to do lists. If you’re not get on the band wagon; there is lots of pretty stationary out there 😊 I digress, write down what you need to complete for the day. Itemise your list. I find the most satisfying thing is striking them off the lists as you complete them. If your kids are remote schooling, get you kids to write a daily list too. You can also reward yourself when you achieve a certain number of tasks. Cup of tea and a Tim Tam anyone 😊
3. Create a time- table
Distractions the house is full of them… TV shows you could watch, children, cleaning, a book to be read, exercising. Great news you can still do these things (As you are no-longer commuting you may have an extra 90 minutes or more up your sleeve. Don’t let this extra precious time be wasted on surfing the internet; it’s yours so take it back 😊 and by managing your time in chunks you will find you have the time to empty the dishwasher, prepare a slow cooked meal, do some sort of exercise and a quick vacuum before lunch. Easy!
Make sure you include break times. Lunch no longer needs to be eaten at your desk. Eat it in the garden or somewhere else but not in front of the computer.
Those of us juggling kids at home as well as working have found it beneficial to spend 15 minutes at the start of the day to make sure the kids know what their teacher has set them for the day. (Obviously this is dependent on what year they are in) Hopefully alleviating the need for them to keep asking you for help. You never know you might get an hour of peace. One of our team members has early rising kids, so she works closely with them from 7am- 9am each morning, which frees up her day as they can work on activities later in the day that don’t require her support so she can attend meetings and get her work done.
Set an alarm if you need reminding to take your lunch break and for ending the day. We all know how easy it can be for these lines to be blurred.
Working from home can be very lonely and isolating; make time in your day to talk to someone. Call a colleague or call a friend. If you have a company messaging system now is a great time to use it. You can chat through-out the day it does not have to always be about work. Have a weekly team zoom meeting; it’s very important to stay connected and in touch with what is happening at work and in other peoples lives around you.
5. Have a dedicated working space
Not everyone has an office with a fancy desk and a door; one of our team members has just ordered desks from Ikea of their children’s room so they have a dedicated workspace, and she can get the kitchen bench back to herself and spread out. Wherever you are working from at home, pack away your computer at the end of your working day. It will help create boundaries and it helps to separate work life from home life. If you are short on space, invest in some cheap magazine holders / files system to keep all the associated paperwork in; if this is for the long-term than it may be worth investing in office furniture, a comfortable chair, bookshelf, and large desk are relatively simply to set up and you may be able to pick up a second-hand bargain. Check out gumtree or marketplace and don’t forget you will be working in this space everyday.
6. Productivity periods.
We are all different in how we work and when we are most productive. I am a morning person I will happily work from 6am – 9am achieve most of my work to do list, then spend a few hours monitoring the kids remote learning whereas hubby is more productive in the evenings when kids are asleep or occupied by TV. Find out when you are most productive and build your schedule around your peak times. This is one of the perks of working from home.
7. Avoid TV and social media
Try to turn the TV off when you are working; it will suck up your focus and before you know it you will be totally engrossed in the midday movie. Instead jump on a music streaming site such as Spotify or Jango and listen to your favourite music or turn on the radio. Social media try and incorporate this into your breaks we know what a rabbit warren this can be, hours wasted. Save it for your break time.
8. Have a finish time
At the end of the day, turn off your computer, pack away your work things and walk away. If you leave it all out in the open it’s too easy to just send a few more emails or continue to work. Its all about work life balance and its very easy for it to intrude into your family life.
9. Be kind to yourself.
Don’t beat your self up if your child isn’t getting enough educational enriched activities or if they have spent way too much time on their devices than you are normally comfortable with. We are not superhuman. Instead take time out, go on a walk with your child, play a game, cook afternoon tea together. Reset and tomorrow is a new day. Talk to your manager about your workload if you are finding it difficult to juggle. It’s a delicate balance juggling work, life and kids so be aware of your mental health. Check out our recent article on how to boost your mental health and wellbeing in uncertain times for some simple ways to give your mental health a welcome boost.
10. Exercise and eating healthy
Schedule time in your day to exercise. This can be a 30-minute walk around the block or doing Pilates in the living room. There are so many free apps out there that can help you achieve fitness goals and take your mind off work and the stress of life. Taking the dog for a walk and regularly stretching will naturally boost those endorphins which in turn increases happiness and your interest levels, which in turn will mean you are more productive.
Working from home also means your have access to a full kitchen full of snacks, biscuits, and chips. We all know eating healthy will make you more productive so think twice before opening the biscuit jar, grab an apple instead. When you were in the office you were at the mercy at what you brought in with you. Instead, you could use the opportunity to prepare a healthy lunch if time is on your side.
One of our team members packs the kids lunches every morning just the same as if the kids were going off to school. She has found this has stopped the “I’m hungry” cries which is a constant sound in my household. Also, if you have a slow cooker get it out. Having the dinner cooking away is very satisfying and I promise it will free you up for a fun activity later in the day.
Working from home is all about routine, lots of fresh air breaks’ and enjoying the flexibility and freedom that comes with it. Reward your self with a movie night to look forward to, or fun activities you can do when your working day is over. Have a weekend; leave the computer tightly shut it will be there on Monday morning and when your day begins treat is like another day in the office and remember be kind to yourself, we are all in this together.
We would love to hear from you on how you are coping with working from home. What strategies are working for you?