working from home challenges answered

Working from Home in a time of quarantine

Maybe you’re working from home and it’s all new. On top of it, you’re either alone more than usual or you’re trying to work from home with other people also home…maybe your kids or mate..or both. It can get a little nuts.

Even for those of us who are used to working from home, this pressured time brings with it extra challenges. Here are some guidelines ALL of us can remember in order to stay sane, stimulated, and productive.

Tips for Working from Home

1. Do your work in the same place. Those of you home with others probably have this one figured out already. You know you can’t be all that productive with everyone else swarming around so you’re off in a designated room, maybe quite obviously, an office or study. (That might have required some furniture moving and cleaning.)

For some of you monitoring small children simultaneously, being in a central location and available might be crucial. Still, same thing: set up and “go to work” in a designated zone. Teach children that when you’re in that zone, you’re at work. Do be “interruptible” for very young children. Thirty seconds of focused attention when they really need it helps kids feel secure and we all know that minimizes chaos in the house.

I know this takes patience. If you manage 30 seconds of focused attention calmly, kindly, and completely… (and obviously without blowing your stack,) kids can quickly get a sense that there is still structure and safety in their day. You may need to educate them (calmly and kindly of course) about the differences between need and want. Remember, connection, safety, and security are needs. Plus, getting outside and taking a walk can be just as important for children as it is for dogs.

2. Go to work at the same time. Even if your company does not require it, you’ll be more productive. Announce to those you live with that you’ll be at work from X-X and taking your breaks at specific times. Then do it. On top of making you more productive, you’ll experience your work day having a beginning and an end. And it should have an end.

Especially when we’re available at home, everyone else can start to think we’re available 24/7. I have an assistant doing all her work for me remotely, and as a boss, I’m careful about when I send her an assignment and my expectations regarding how long I hope it will take…i.e. when her part is “due.” Not all bosses are going to think about that. But YOU can, especially when you’re NOT the boss. You have nothing to fear by communicating a boundary around this. You’re soon going to be a frazzled mess if you don’t.

Sometimes communicating that boundary is about your behavior. As in, DON’T answer the email at 9 pm. Answering is on you.

And if you ARE the boss (and I’m reminding myself here,) stop work communications at your own designated hour. You need time away from work. We ALL do. Time to work, time to play, time for domestics, time to connect (in relationship- with those is proximity and those at a physical distance) and absolute, do-nothing down time.

A note: Some of you are doing your essential work in finance or medical supplies or innovative restructuring and I know you have a sense of urgency for the work. You still need a break. And regular food and sleep, and some movement. You might need a hug or several. You need more than a few deep, relaxing breaths…and a shower. Which leads me to:

3. Get dressed. You don’t have to wear the same clothing you’d wear to the office, but groom yourself. Make yourself presentable. Shower. Wash your face, do your hair, and brush your teeth. Wear something you’d be happy to have everyone at work see you in…on “Casual Friday” sure.

If you’re meeting clients online, it IS okay for it to be business up top, party on the bottom…as long as no one sees your bottom. 😉 Me, I’m definitely ditching my dress pants and heels for the home duration. Look, I’m not suggesting ridiculousness here. You should be comfortable but definitely groomed and dressed.

Because YOU know the difference.

In addition, this actually signals to those you live with that you are working. Then when you change into cozy lounge wear, it signals that you’ve left work. It might sound silly, but it matters! This is especially helpful for young children. Guess, what? Your mate will appreciate the distinction too.

General Comments on Working from Home

You are going to be subjected to more distractions: neighbor noise, other people’s pets, your pets, the dishes, a television, social media threads, and an onslaught of additional email. Who else here is suddenly buried in assurances and descriptions from every business they’ve ever frequented… in response to the coronavirus? (I know I might be one; I’m hopeful you’re finding it helpful and truly comforting. That’s what I’m here for, after all.) The three point structure above can help minimize the impact of those distractions.

Some of you are already better than others at compartmentalizing. Now is the time to do it. And don’t get mad at your mate for engaging this skill right now. He or she might be super good at it and now’s the time to engage it. Besides, all of us benefit from leaving work at work. Remember: work time, play time, domestics, connecting time, and down time.

Other tips for Productivity

These tips are good no matter whether you’re working from home or not and if you make them a practice now, they’ll increase your productivity exponentially for the long term.

Get up and move around every fifty to fifty five minutes. Even if you’ve fashioned a standing desk at home, move around. Get some blood flowing. Check on the kids. They’ll be glad you did and will feel simultaneously more connected and more willing to “allow” you to get back to work. Give someone a hug for more than 20 seconds. It releases oxytocin and that always helps lower cortisol, the stress hormone. And, it’s soothing.

Maybe take a cold shower in the morning. I can’t bring myself to do this quite yet. I enjoy the hot ones for their steaming and comforting qualities right now. But science indicates a cold shower wakes up the neurotransmitters, increases resilience, helps manage stress, and seems to have a strong correlation with creativity and motivation.

Do everything else you know to do to take care of your stress level. You might know from our work together whether you are heartfirst, brainfirst, or bodyfirst. If you ever answered the question from me about what you do when you enter a party, you also might know if your instinctual stack is first one-on-one, social, or self-preservation. It all makes a difference in the things that work best for YOU and addressing your stress.

More on that in a future blog.

A final note:

For now, (and always) be kind and gentle…with yourself and with others. Keep those things structured that can be. Rest when you’re tired. And create your own center of safety, whether it is your routine, inside your heart and mind, or inside your home.

Of course, if I can help with any of that, let me know. Let’s connect.

CONNECT

Coming soon, ways to cope if you are alone in your house- with or without furry, breathing friends. And what to do is you want to KEEP DATING during COVID-19.