It’s been an intense few weeks. If you or your partner are in an industry where you can work from home, you’re probably starting to think about developing some kind of work from home schedule.
You might download printables about how to get work done or declutter your study and turn it into a home office. Let me show you the realities of working at home. From someone who’s been doing freelancing and blogging for 6+ years.
Develop a work from home schedule
Encourage habit and routine
This post contains affiliate links which if you make a purchase, allow me to make a commission. For my full disclosure please see here
Maybe you’ve always wanted to work from home. You’ve seen those Instagram lasses with their white linen, babes carefully snoozing away by their side. Making it look easy.
NOT REAL LIFE
Wait… I may have taken a photo like that in my time on Instagram. Oops
The point is, you’ve got your chance now. You’ve got some decisions to make. Where do you set up? I’ll tell where you don‘t.
Don’t work from your bed. You need that physical and mental partition between work and sleep. And if you bring snacks it’s going to be crumb city.
Some hard and fast rules for how to get work done at home:
- Set boundaries (with yourself, with others in the house)
- Implement an intermittent reward system (Yay treats!)
- Take breaks
- Eat the frog (see also, rip off the bandaid)
Set those boundaries
What do I mean by set boundaries? Whether it’s creative work from home that you do or you’re a senior accountant, crunching numbers, the same rules apply.
You’ve got to set up some work hours and let people know. So if between 10am and 3pm you’re on the clock and not around for a chat, tell Gran you’re sorry but you’ll have to debrief about Neighbours some other time. (Or is she watching MAFS now? I can’t keep up with her!)
Give yourself little rewards
There’s something about working in an actual office (that I’ve done for all of 0.8 seconds of my life but who’s counting) that can really encourage productivity.
I don’t know if it’s the morgue like temperatures or the mounting performance anxiety but boy did I get some work done surrounded by a group of my peers in businesswear!
Sometimes, the ideal little cocoons of comfort that we create for ourselves when working from home actually work against us. It’s easy to get too relaxed and let your standards drop when you’re calling the shots.
I’m not saying go out and buy a super uncomfortable chair to keep yourself on your toes or anything (unless you’re a masochist I mean go for it). I’m a believer in positive reinforcement.
Take plenty of breaks
Which means taking lots of breaks when I’m working (just short ones). To either do a breathing exercise, have some water, a piece of chocolate or fruit, a scroll of social media or a chat with my coworker (this is now my husband, it used to be my cat).
It seems counterintuitive to be stopping every hour and a half or so, as though you’re interrupting the flow of work. But think about the driving survival campaigns on Australian roads…
Eat That Frog
I’m sure you’ve heard of productivity book, Eat That Frog. A productivity book that encourages you to do the hardest, most unpleasant thing FIRST THING, to encourage momentum. You see where I’m going here…
Applying this to how to get work done at home is fairly simple. It will require self discipline (or calling your mum for a pep talk). I can vouch for it’s effectiveness. Once you’ve done The Hard Thing™ you’ll usually feel so on top of the world that you knock out all your other projects with no issue.
Working from home with kids tips
In any blog you read, the 1# working from home tips for success always includes this (having a schedule).
I’d say because (especially if you’re working from home with kids), it’s hard to fly by the seat of your pants.
If you want to schedule everything down to the very last minute, factoring in for pee breaks, then more power to you, you Type A go-getter.
If you’re in pure survival mode and working from home is brand new to you, what works for your family may look differently to others.
In this post about productivity I mentioned working with your children’s “golden hour”. So basically, if you know your child is more energetic in the morning, then you might need to think about how to get work done in the afternoons or evenings instead.
Here are a few of my favourite tips when it comes to working from home with kids in the house.
(on a conference call I assume)
If you can, set up your work station from an area where you’re close to your kids. With toddlers especially, they just want to be involved. I often have my daughter “helping” me by getting busy with her crayons next to me or bashing away on her Fisher Price Laptop.
By removing the mystery of what mummy is doing, my daughter will generally get so absorbed in what she’s got going on that my activities become less desirable.
Working with your children and their schedules is always preferable but so is a fast metabolism and unlimited donuts so….y’know. When days aren’t going perfectly and you can’t get your kids outside or spend as much time with them as you’d ideally like due to work, it’s easy to feel guilt.
Spending undivided, quality time with your child(ren) when you do reconnect is the remedy. Whether it’ ten minutes rough and tumble play at the end of the day, a story before bed or and awesome bubbly bath with loads of splashing. Reconnection is the key to making sure kids know that they are securely attached to you.
Let kids be a little bored. The advice comes from teachers in this age of homeschooling in the pandemic, but it’s been said for generations. Boredom leads to creativity. So leave open-ended play toys out, try some toy rotation and basically, get the heck outta there!
Our actual schedule (if you hadn’t realised, that was a parody above ^ is flexible so take it with a grain of salt. But I thought I’d post it anyway. I didn’t add times because I don’t find them necessary or realistic.
Not like that you perv. Or maybe, if the child(ren) are in bed, I won’t kill your vibe. Successful working days tend to happen when there’s reflection and communication. Whether that’s with your team virtually, your spouse or even with yourself or your older kids.
Accepting that not every day will be the same. Productivity levels are bound to fluctuate, little people don’t tend to poop, eat or want to play on a schedule all the time.
Giving yourself grace in this period and remembering to disengage from any competitive parenting you see online.
How are you finding working at home? More or less challenging than anticipated?