As I watch and (virtually) share life with SO MANY of my closest friends who have quite literally been thrown into working from home AND parenting/teaching their kids in the last few weeks, I have seen that one small thing we can offer others in this time is to share tips and ideas on how to make the most of your time working from home! We have, after all, been doing so for the past seven years and let me tell you … it took a LONG time to figure out how to best work from home! My hope is that this post will spare you some of the headaches and frustration we experienced as we tried to learn how to do this, though I do realize the unique season we all currently find ourselves in adds a whole new level of change – one that is truly unprecedented.
So … take whatever feels right and works for you! : ) Sending a crazy amount of love, peace, and hope to anyone reading this post today.
Our Working-From-Home Tips
1. We, too, are newly navigating working from home WITH a baby! So far, our best advice for this isn’t even our own advice! This idea was shared with us by some of our best friends who are now both working from home (and expected to be working full-time!) while also taking care of their kids full-time who cannot be in daycare. That is a LOT. They are amazing. Anyway, they told us that they are splitting each day — one person works the first half of the day while the other is with the kids, and then they switch. We have been doing this same thing and it has worked REALLY well for us too. I personally love that I know I get to work every day but I also get to spend time with E. It is a really great balance and I know Caleb feels the same!
2. Having a scheduled plan for each week has been the MOST helpful practice we have implemented in our lives as we work from home. On Sunday night, Caleb and I sit down together and plan our week; this can take anywhere from 15-45 minutes, depending on the various complexities of the week. However long it takes, it is SO worth every minute. We have our shared iCalendars in front of us and we plan out EACH day — everything from work time to lunch breaks … dinner … family time … errands … workouts … etc.
For me, this is really helpful because I never go into a day without knowing what to expect (for the most part). I know what’s happening and when, for each of us. It also allows me to relax because I know, for example, that I will have time to edit the photos I need to get done on Tuesday afternoon and then have time scheduled on Wednesday morning to do laundry and cleaning … etc. Everything will get done in its designated time so I don’t have to feel stressed that there’s “so much to do.” I can let go of things in the future knowing there is a spot for them later and just BE within the confines of the day! This has been really, really good for my mental wellness.
Lastly, I love that doing this makes us intentional with our lives — I rarely find that I felt unproductive with my day or as if there was a ton of wasted time because instead of figuring out what to do next, I was able to look at the calendar and do what was scheduled!
- To take this tip one step further, in my own personal chunks of time scheduled on calendar (in iCal, I do this under the “notes” part of the event), I write out what I am going to do in my personal or work time. I do this at the end of every day, for the next day. That way, again, when it comes to my part of the day to work, I don’t spend any time figuring out what I need to do. I just look at what I wrote needed to get done the night before, and START!
The following tips are ones that we then implement within our designated work times:
3. Only work on one thing at a time. This is VERY important! Do not multi-task … which can be so easy at home (ie: work a bit, get a snack, work a little more, vaccuum, etc.). Time and time again, research shows how unproductive and disruptive multi-tasking is. Do things like household tasks at their own separate time. If you cannot normally do them at the office, don’t do them during your “work day” hours at home!
4. Time chunk. Set a timer (25 minutes is a good starting point) and do ONE task for that whole time (ie: answering emails) without stopping or doing anything else. You will be amazed at how quickly and efficiently you can get something done – without sacrificing quality – if you remove all distractions and really focus on that one said task for a set amount of time.
5. Speaking of removing distractions, I will turn off my email and my iMessages on my Mac, as well as put my phone in “Do Not Disturb” mode, so that I can really hone in and focus on a task when I’m working. The more the brain works and focuses on a task, the quicker you can get it done. The second something “pings!” your brain away from that task, it has to start the focusing process over.
6. Lastly, while some tasks can definitely be done on the couch or, my favorite(!), outside on the deck, I find that the majority of things I need to get done really do need to be given deep thought and intention. I work at my designated work space for these tasks. “Going” to this space tells my brain and my body it’s time to work, and helps to remove distractions!