How to Get Things Done While Working From Home
By Catie Bush
What a winter we have had so far– stomach bugs, flu, snow, ice, schools cancelled, you name it. If you’re like me, you’ve probably experienced more than one of these…at the same time!
This is a busy time of year at the office too, and work doesn’t stop just because you’re snowed in. That has lead a lot of people to consider working from home (when they’re not out shoveling the driveway, of course!). But as you may have discovered, opening your computer at the kitchen table is a whole lot different than your desk at the office. Screaming kids, chores, television. There are a ton of things that have the potential of tugging at your attention span.
At least one study from a couple of years ago suggests that working from home can actually boost productivity and save companies money. That may be true. But I bet most of those study participants didn’t have a 3 year old jumping in their lap.
So what CAN you do when you need to work from home? Here are the basics:
1. Set aside a specific place in your house specifically for work
2. Create a daily work schedule
3. Setting boundaries with your family
Create a Space
It’s really tempting to just work in your pajamas, but I suggest getting dressed and preparing for work as you normally would. This will help to set an environment that gets results. If you’ve got a home office or spare room, great. If not, set your kitchen table up like your office and act as though you’re actually there. Don’t surround yourself with the normal clutter and make sure everything on the table has a purpose. If you can get out of the house and have a coffee shop or hangout spot nearby, you could even consider setting up shop there for a while.
Create a Schedule
Boundaries are good, and you’ll need them if you’re working from home. You might be tempted to watch TV while you work…or take a break to finish up some chores. Don’t do it! Create a schedule with defined work hours and set break times. Set a timer on your phone if you need some help to stay on track.
There are lots of techniques out there to help you stay productive. A good one to consider is the Pomodoro Technique. This time management process involves breaking tasks into manageable pieces so you don’t get off track. Apps for Android and iOS available too!
Lifehack.org has some good suggestions for setting up a schedule and making sure your family knows your boundaries. They can even help you stay on task!
They setting specific times to check emails, having a family calendar and explaining to kids why you need to work. If course, it’s just as important to STOP working when the day is done. It can be tempting to work later into the night or start early in the morning when you work from home if you don’t set boundaries. When 5 o’clock rolls around shut things down! Family time should still be family time. That will help to keep everyone happy!
Working from home might not always be ideal, but it can be a good way to get work done if you set up some guardrails. Although I’d just rather it be spring already!