Part 1: Routines and Boundaries
Starting to accept the possibility that working from home may go on for months, if not indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic? As short-term work from home set-ups evolve into long-term arrangements, it’s time to consider how a Professional Organizer can help you stay focused and be more productive. Yes! I can help with more than just organizing your stuff. I can help with organizing your days, which can ultimately improve your mental and physical health – things that are more important than ever.
Stick To A Routine:
Establishing an at-home workday routine is crucial, beginning not at 9am, but when you wake up. If you’ve been sleeping in later than usual, you’re not alone. In fact, it's being reported that people are requiring more sleep during the coronavirus pandemic. The good news is that it should be taking you less time to get ready in the morning and you’re skipping entirely on your commute. So go ahead and spend that freed up time to sleeping in a little later than you normally would, so long as you get in front of your computer around the same time as you would if you were at the office.
Continue to maintain a routine throughout the day – from having lunch at (mostly) the same time to limiting when you have your last caffeinated beverage. If you never drink coffee past 2pm at work, stick with this habit at home, too. The same goes for alcohol and tobacco. Even if your consumption has increased recently – and again, you’re not alone – limited when your drink and/or take smoke breaks, just as you would at work.
Also, as hard as it may be to get started in the morning, you may find it difficult to walk away from your work at the end of the day. Keep track of how many hours you’re working over the course of a week. Don’t let the convenience of working down the hall from your kitchen and bedroom slowing take your 8-hour day into a 60+ hour work week. Just because you can keep working after dinner or into the wee hours, doesn't mean you should. Be mindful of your work-at-home work-life balance, and know when you need to take a break or time-out.
In addition to obligations to get your own work done, including commitments and deadlines with everyone from bosses and colleagues to clients and customers, you may also have kids needing your help with their assignments and the complications of home schooling. Create a weeklong daily schedule for your entire family, including allocating time for household chores plus some fun breaks, such as movie night or baking together. Print and post it for all to see.
Don’t feel guilty for doing a load of laundry or washing a few dishes during the workday – a mental break and change of scenery can do you good. Just don’t let housework take over your day or consume more time than planned. You may want to invest in a “Virtual Personal Assistant” aka a Google Mini or Alexa, keeping it handy to time your breaks or remind you when it’s time to take one.
Think of your kids as young employees, scheduling morning and end-of-day meetings to review what needs to be done and their work-in-progress. Be prepared, just as with managing staff, for inevitable interruptions and check-ins throughout the day. The key is not to let their homework derail your own work-from-home responsibilities. Also, try to keep lunches to a “no talking about work or school” social gathering.
You may also want to set boundaries by establishing a system so your kids (and spouse) know when not to disturb you – unless it’s an urgent matter. It may be as simple at keeping your door closed during important calls or using a code word when you’re in the middle of something and need them to come back later. Pick a fun word that makes them smile, not something that makes them feel guilty for disturbing you.
Got tweens and teens working from their own computers? Communicating via email and text messaging can turn out to be more effective than being constantly interrupted or getting up and down from your computer to see them.
Need help? Being organized isn’t just about decluttering and tidying up, it is also about organizing your life and daily routine. Fortunately, as a trained professional organizer, I can help you transition to working from home with brilliant success. Whether you're an employer wanting to help your entire team or an employee struggling to adjust, give me a call and let’s talk about creating a productive home office that works for you.