Working remotely (work from home/WFH) is going to be a new experience for many, but good news for you, I’m an expert at it!
I’ve been working remotely for over three years in a high-level position. The job is demanding, stressful, needs full 40+ hour week attention, and runs similarly to if I were in a corporate environment, even though I’m in my own home. I have conference calls (last week 17!), video calls, loads of email and communication, and keep up with my team via Slack and text.
What throws a wrench in all of this is school and daycare being closed, but I’m going to give you some tips to make it work.
First, here is my daily schedule:
6:40 AM: Wake up. Brush teeth and hair, change into workout clothes for school dropoff. Scan emails for client emergencies.
7:00 AM: Get Fritz up! Brush his teeth, get him ready to head to school, and hand him a granola bar. He gets breakfast at school but is so hangry when he first wakes up.
7:15 AM: We are in the car, and dropoff is done by 7:30.
7:45 AM: At this point, I’ve scanned emails and maybe taken a phone call or answered a text. I’m ready for my day.
8:00 AM: Drive back home to work with a Diet Coke. I don’t usually leave my desk until 10:30 AM.
10:30 AM: Break. I throw in a load of laundry, wipe down the kitchen, and often jump in the shower.
10:45 AM: Back at my desk with soaking wet hair, but clean!
10:45 AM – 12:00 PM: I usually have a lot of work to be done between these hours.
12:00 PM: I take lunch if I have time! Sometimes I don’t, so I grab a salad to eat at my desk or whip something up quickly. This is also when I run to the grocery store or take care of personal chores. ***My first year working remotely, I was so focused on always being available that I hardly ever left my office between 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM. I totally burned myself out. Give yourself an hour for you!***
1:00 PM: Back to work until I need to pick Fritz up.
4:30 PM: Pick Fritz up and try to put my phone down until he goes to bed at 7:00 PM.
5:00 PM – 7:00 PM: Family time. We each dinner at the table, play, and sometimes even watch Peppa Pig. 😉
7:00 PM: Check email to make sure everything is alright and attend to any clients that need something then and there.
10:15 PM: Lights out! Phone on DO NOT DISTURB.
Here are some tips and tricks that have really helped me to work from home. It does take a lot of self-discipline, and it is going to be hard in the next few weeks to not feel isolated. During a typical week, I make sure to have lunch dates with friends or a happy hour planned. I’m going to see if my girlfriends will indulge me in a FaceTime happy hour, but make sure to stay connected with your crew in group texts. I’ve found that funny memes and sharing in my feelings on the current state of our reality are helpful.
- Keep your work in a dedicated space. I only use my computer in my office and don’t bring it anywhere else in the house. Work stays in my office, so I don’t feel like I’m working if I’m sitting on the couch trying to relax. I understand everyone might not have an office, so find a spot at the kitchen table or move a small table into a place facing the window to get some sunshine on your face while you’re stuck inside.
- Time block! My Apple Watch does a great job of reminding me. Usually went it reminds me to stand up. I tend to find myself at my desk for long periods, so moving throughout the day is crucial. If I start to feel sluggish, I search YouTube for a five-minute workout that I can easily do.
- Limit Social Media. It is easy to get sucked in.
- Make a To-Do list. Focus on the tasks that you need to get done that day.
- Take a lunch break! TRUST ME. The emails you have waiting in your inbox can wait. TAKE A BREAK!
- Make sure you and your partner have chatted about expectations for around the home. I love a tidy house, but I told my husband I can’t be expected to be the only one pitching in because I work remotely.
- Enjoy it! There are far fewer distractions at home than in a traditional office. I get much more done.
- SCREEN TIME. Since your kids might be home with you. Embrace it. I know I will be. Give them a routine, but if you have an urgent conference call or need to crank out a report or email, know you are doing your best. When Fritz is home sick, I let him indulge, because I still need to give work my full potential.
- Get dressed. I know, pajamas and sweatpants are comfy, but you will feel like you and be more productive if you change out of your PJs and into something you would go out in public in.
- Find our how your work wants you to communicate with your team and make sure to stay in touch with your coworkers. We use something called Slack to communicate (it is like Instant Messenger). Find an app that allows you to be in communication or start a group chat or email. We even have a Slack channel for memes and watercooler banter since we are located all over the US.
This new normal might take some getting used to, but you can do it! You might even find that you love it! Got some great tips for working from home with kids? Leave them in the comments!