Like many of us, my husband has suddenly found himself working from home full time. For the first week, he LOVED this! No more long commute or sitting in boring meetings when a simple email could have sufficed.
Then as the mugs built up around his desk and he spent another day ferrying our youngest out of his ‘work space’, he realised working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be, and went and shaved.
Oh how I giggled.
You see, I am a seasoned work-from-homer. I have done it for years, and so I know how to make it work so it’s productive – and I also don’t go insane.
Here are my top tips:
1. Shower and get dressed EVERY SINGLE DAY
While it might be tempting to stay in your comfy PJs all day, you will start to feel gross if you do this. Trust me.
Have that morning shower, like you always do, and get dressed for the day. Sure, you can ditch the make-up (yay!), but hanging out in your slops will just make you feel like a slob.
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I recommend leggings and a crisp clean tee. Comfy, but still socially acceptable if you need to leave the house to pick up kids, or a delivery driver knocks on your door.
2. Grab the coffee
I like to start my work day with a barista-made coffee in my keep cup.
I pick this up after doing the school/kindy drop and it makes me feel like I am a woman of the workforce about to log on to work, rather than a housewife.
Of course, you may not be visiting cafes right now, so if you are self-isolating, treat the coffee you make yourself at home as that ‘start the day one’ you grab on the way to the office.
This will become your daily routine.
3. Stick to your start and finish time
It can be tempting when you work from home to start a little later or earlier and finish well, whenever. You might find yourself checking your email at 8pm, for instance.
But you need to be disciplined with yourself about this, otherwise the line between work and home time will blur.
Stick to your start and finish times, like you would in the office. Your family will thank you.
4. Get some fresh air
If you sit inside, staring at a computer screen ALL day, you will start to feel imprisoned in your home.
Take a lunch break and eat your sandwich outside in the sun.
Likewise, when you log off for the day, go for a walk around the block. It’s valuable time that allows your head time to shift from work to home mode, just like your commute usually does.
5. Make a plan
No, working from home is not the answer to all your work/life balance problems.
You might even find it adds to these, even if you are no longer stressed about being late for daycare pick up.
The house will be even messier if everyone is at home, for instance. There will be less structure and routine in your week if the things you have put in place allowing you to manage it all, like online shopping and school, close. Your kids might even be home while you are trying to work – gulp!
You need a plan, Mama.
This might mean asking the grandparents to babysit or arrange a childcare swap with friends who are also trying to juggle working and muming/dadding.
It might mean setting some house rules around screen time so the kids know when they get it and aren’t whining at you all day to put this or that on.
It might mean explaining to little ones that when the door is shut, it means DO NOT DISTURB.
Or it might mean talking to your boss about changing your hours so you can work more at night because working with kids in the house is just too damned hard.
Make a plan. Now.
6. Keep your desk tidy
Your messy house will annoy you but if you try to clean it on top of working, you will just feel even more overwhelmed.
But there is one space in the house that you need to keep spick and span, for your own sanity’s sake, and that is your desk/work space.
Clear the coffee mugs/plates, wipe down your computer and shut the door on the mess. That can be dealt with on the weekend.
7. Chat to your colleagues
Just because you are not chatting with each other over the cubical, doesn’t mean you can’t have a natter with your work mates online. Get a group chat platform – Skype is an easy one to use – that enables you to connect with your workmates instantly.
Thanks to technology, self-isolation doesn’t need to feel socially isolating.
Good luck fellow work-from-homer and don’t forget to hang out that washing you felt smug about being able to put on during the day!
Oh and also, beware of the snacks. Snacks on tap when you work from home are the undoing of us all.