Family is the most important thing in the world, and finding a balance between work and family has never been harder. However, there are things you can do that give you more time for your family and ensure that your working hours at home are more productive and satisfying. The balance between both can be found and all it takes is some time and effort.
We asked experienced professionals what good work habits they follow for achieving and maintaining a healthy work/life balance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here is their advice:
Kassi Fleming, Head of Marketing at 5Tales
I have worked from home full-time since 2017 so I have a suite of tried and tested strategies to ensure my WFH life is well-balanced and separated from my personal time, here are my top 3 for those new to remote working:
- Stick to a routine
I use the time I used to spend commuting to my office for exercise, or on my lazier mornings, to sit on my balcony and get some fresh air. The routine of doing “something” with my usual commuting time helps me transition my mind into “work mode” and then back into “home mode” at the end of each day. Simply moving from the couch to the desk and back wasn’t cutting it for me!
- Don’t do anything until you’ve started the hardest task
In an effort to stop myself procrastinating, if there is a particularly difficult task on my “to-do” list then I do that before I do anything else in the morning, before I check my emails, log in to Slack (our company messenger) or start working on anything else. By doing this first, I find the rest of my day is far more productive and I don’t procrastinate to the point where I am sitting at my desk agonizing over a task long after the sun has gone down.
- Designate a “work only” space in your home
This is especially important for the bad days or when you are feeling overwhelmed by work. There are huge benefits to working from home, but one of the difficulties is that you have invited work into your personal space. If you work from your bedroom (or drag your laptop into your bed to work if you’re not feeling motivated) it is more difficult to let go of the work worries into the night if you are remaining in the same space. If you don’t have a home office or desk you can work from, I recommend designating a spot in your house that is for work only, then the rest of your space is yours to relax in after hours.
Dympna Kennedy, CreatingBalance
Here are a couple of strategies that I believe will help parents find a better balance when working from home particularly when the classroom and daycare have moved home too.
- Having Realistic Expectations
Holding high expectations of themselves and their child. This is an unprecedented time and therefore things are going to be different and your ability to be flexible, adaptable, and creative will be called into play.
- Take Care of Yourself
Not taking care of themselves; you cannot give what you do not have. Investing in your own wellbeing so that you are better positioned to handle the unexpected.
- No Need to be Perfect
Lead by example. Children learn by what they see and hear you do. Tell them you’re frustrated too by being kept inside. Mistakes will happen, upsets will occur, with opportunities to repair ruptures, it shows your children you’re human.
- Over Thinking
Worrying excessively and unnecessarily. Project forward when stuck now and ask yourself, “Will this matter five years from now?”
The one thing that I would encourage professional parents to take away from this, is to remember that it’s easier to change the environment than to change the child.
The best strategy I have for working from home is the organisation! When you’re organized, this helps with productivity, which in turn helps with mental health and well being.
Now, good organisation does come in different ways…
- Time: You need to set times in your calendar for specific tasks, otherwise it is easy to become distracted. So you should know that at 8 am you will check emails, 9 am check-in with your team, and so on. This also includes a lunch break. During your lunch break, it is important to get up and leave your desk and give yourself a different form of mental stimulation. When you are allocating time for your tasks, schedule the most difficult things for the morning so you do them first rather than putting them off or allowing yourself to be sidetracked with unimportant tasks.
- Team: You need to make sure your team is productive and on track to reach company goals with regular check-ins, and not just via chat like Slack. We ensure we have two calls via Zoom each week, with cameras on. Monday morning our call sets our intention for the week, and provides each team member with an opportunity to ask for help. Then Friday morning we again have a call on Zoom, cameras on, to see what was achieved, what is outstanding, and if anything needs to be carried into the next week.
Not only do these calls help with productivity, but they also help us to remember that we are all real people, not just names on a computer screen, which really helps with team bonding.
Having a morning routine that takes you from not working into work mode is a perfect way to start the day, simple things like getting dressed, brushing teeth, not sitting watching tv. Having a morning routine that gets you up, gets you moving and gets you out of sleepwear and into something else is not only good for productivity but also for your own mental health, it changes your energy immediately.
Having a schedule when work begins and finishes can be really important, setting out your work environment if possible and then moving from this space when work is finished, for example maybe you put the laptop away, if you have an office close the door and walk away when work ends. Again this doesn’t just increase productivity but will also give you space to switch off and feel as if you’re exiting work mode and into your own free time.
Check her website here.
She says that in this crisis time when we are surrounded by so much negative information inspiration is vitally important. While we self-isolate, this is the best time to go inward and reflect on inspiration:
The workplace created at home should be filled with inspiration that could be created by the aggregation of articles, mantras, books, Youtube Videos that are created by inspiring, uplifting people that you admire. I keep that handy. This working space you are trying to create in your house should have altars of positive affirmations, quotes, books on the shelves that are of spiritual texts that are very useful to you, articles breading positivity. Funny memes on your computer desktop, clips, or videos that you could play right away to just change your state. The musical playlist would make a difference as well – music can shift the state. Some music from the times when you were growing up, sounds that feel soothing, dance music, meditation one – add that as part of the inspiration as well. What you need is the space for that positivity as a resource that you can use in times of uncertainty.
Check her website here
Catherine Way, Marketing Manager at Prime Plus Mortgages
The best way to be productive, and happy while working from home is to set a routine. I have a morning routine to help me get up and stay focused, and even at work, I follow a routine on what days certain activities get done. I time block my time and have a clean end time for my day so that I have time to be with my family and get away from work. Having a routine is essential to working from home.
Working at home gives you more flexibility and freedom with your time because when you work at home you can set your own schedule, be your own boss, work at something you enjoy and, at the same time, be at home with your family.