Working from home is not always the best choice for all of us, right? But since we have to be respectful of the circumstances, we obey the new order and stay home, frantically trying to manage everything at the same time. We have to juggle our own mental health, our family’s well-being and day-to-day activities, food, cleaning, and on top of all of that, our work duties. But since we are lucky enough to still have a job, let’s not focus on the chaos side of things, and try to make the best of the situation. So the question is, how to create an efficient and effective work-from-home environment? Especially if you have a family that needs your attention and time. If your neighbour already has a functional system going on in their household and manages to enforce it day in and day out, we offer them our standing ovations and envy in silence. But since we don’t possess that kind of superpower, and the same method won’t work for everyone, let’s dive into it without further ado and see what steps are necessary on our way to a tranquil work process.
- Make sure you have the best possible connection.
Can’t stress this point too strongly. You have to get a lot done, and accomplishing that with a poor signal is downright torture. So do anything possible to better the situation, in case you are having trouble catching a signal in the house, or your 4G network requires you to go on the balcony every time you check an e-mail. You can purchase a network booster, to solve your problems quickly and effectively. If your device is faulty, fix it straight away. Save yourself and your family that much valued time and energy. The 4G signal booster will take care of a good 4G signal.
And while we are on the subject of connection, make sure you communicate with your loved ones more often than before. It will give you comfort and peace of mind and you can focus more on your work. Call your grandparents, contact your friends. They might be having a tough time too, and we all need each other’s support.
- Create a timetable and stick to it.
Now you might be an essentially organized person, or you might be a child of chaos, whichever the case, if you are working from home, you will have to follow some kind of schedule to get things done. Otherwise, everything will be swallowed by the mess, random outbursts of emotions (mainly negative) and the tasks will remain pending on your computer screen somewhere. If you have kids older than, say, 5, make that timetable together with them and hang it somewhere in a common area of the house. That way everyone can see it passing by and be reminded to watch the time, before bothering you (unless it’s an emergency, of course).
For example, if you absolutely need to be online from 9 am to 12 pm and after that, you can afford to come and go more freely, make sure the kids are up and fed by the time you start work. Also, they have to have something to do. If they have homework, this is the perfect time to work on it. If not, they have to have enough supplies to keep them busy for a couple of hours. Older kids can help and entertain the younger kids. You get the gist. Devise a schedule that will realistically work for your individual situation. And be sure to include breaks, so you won’t go mad!
Scheduling has an interesting side-effect. It gets easier to follow if you stick to it! Who knew, right? And children respond positively to it over time. Probably not at first, but we are all creatures of habit, especially children, and this will give them a chance to develop good habits and encourage their independence.
- Separate working spot.
Find a corner of the house that you can turn into a temporary, or a permanent office. If you are lucky enough to have a separate room in the house to use as an office, then great! If you don’t, you have to make some compromises. Squeeze in an extra table in the bedroom, or occupy a part of the common territory. Whatever you need to do, to have a separate and hopefully quiet work area. If you are forced to retreat into the kitchen or the living room, your best shot for silence is earmuffs. Sorry.
Having a separate place used only for work helps you get in the right mode straight away and concentrate better. That’s not easy to do with all the distractions around you, so assign a table to your working needs only and raise your efficiency.
- Make a habit of food planning.
As a part of the crusade against unnecessary distractions, this habit will work wonders for both your mind and body. Plan out your weekly dinners and lunches so you don’t condemn yourself and your family to an unhealthy all-day-snacking vicious cycle. It benefits no one and you’ll be left thinking about food all the time. Knowing what’s for dinner, allows you to free your time and focus on work.
Needless to say, food planning helps your wallet and waistline simultaneously. Naturally, it requires some perseverance, especially in the beginning, but you’ll be surprised at how much freedom it actually gives.
- Distribution of chores.
Now, this is something of a painful subject, especially for parents. A lot of the times it’s easier to do something yourself than ask family members to contribute. Fight the temptation! This is a great time to teach your kids responsibility. Every chore around the house must be fairly distributed according to age and ability. An 8-year old can load a dishwasher (even if you do it much faster) and a 14-year old can be responsible for cooking at least 2 days a week. No one has other places to be right now, so no excuses! Just don’t go overboard and mind their actual capabilities. If you go medieval on the kids, or you’ll have an ongoing war on your hands, and that’s simply too much drama right now. Encourage your family in the right way and show your appreciation.
Following these steps is not always easy and let’s face it, not a universal solution in every individual situation. But they will work in the vast majority of cases if you can find the patience to stick with them. Above all, stay healthy, be alert, and don’t stop working on yourself!