Now that so many of us have been at it working from home for so long now, we probably think we have it all down. But I’m here to tell you that I’ve been doing the work from home thing since March, and I feel like a mess most days.
I’m very fortunate to be able to do my job from home and am grateful for that, but with changes in almost every other aspect of our lives, nothing ever goes completely smoothly, no matter how hard we try.
So, here’s a few tips and tricks that we use at our house to do our best to make working from home work well.
Look at Your Schedule Early in the Day
The first thing I do when I sign on is to look at my meetings and calls for the day. Typically, I have a call when my daughter gets off the bus in the afternoon, so I will let her know that before she leaves for school so she knows not to come barging in when she gets home.
I also do it so I can know when I can run out for an errand or grab lunch. Knowing what’s on the schedule allows for a (hopefully) better flow throughout the day.
Make a Plan
This may sound obvious, but make a plan of what you’d like to accomplish throughout the workday, or the things you MUST do. Figure out where there’s flexibility in your schedule and capitalize on that when needed. If you have kids at home, maybe try to get those must-do’s done before the kids get up, while they are at school, or during nap time. And, if your kids are home and there’s a moment where you can work from the couch while they play Legos or work from the kitchen table while they draw, do it. Keeping everyone happy and occupied is key!
Create Signs for Office (or Closet) Doors
Hang a sign that tells your kids if you are busy and can’t be bothered. I like to draw them out, but there’s many printable ones. “Knock Please, I’m Working” and “Offline” work really well in my house. You can even ask your kids to make the signs for you. Working from home during Covid is a true family affair and making everyone feel like they have a place is a huge feat.
It may sound silly (who doesn’t want to work in their pajamas all day!), but it’s one thing to stay in your pajamas once in a while and another to have been in them since March. Pick out something comfortable like jeans or joggers and a cozy sweatshirt to create a routine of getting ready for the day; it doesn’t have to be fancy! While it’s something small, getting dressed helps you feel more productive because it tells your mind that you are in “work mode”.
When the weather permits, change the office scenery. Believe me, you need it! I have a boss who works outside all the time and some of the best parts about our team calls are the random bird, airplane, and construction noises coming from the nature behind him. But seriously, with the monotone feeling of staying home and not going out for all the things, this little change will be refreshing and feel so good.
I think one of the hardest things for me in the beginning was seeing all the wonderful moms out there who had it all together and were making fun breakfasts, nailing it with virtual learning, taking their kids on hikes, and doing major crafts. It took a while, but I finally got to the point where I could just focus on what’s happening inside our house. Realize you are doing great!
In the beginning, I felt like I was failing at everything. My kids were home and I couldn’t give them enough attention. The kids were virtual learning and it felt like I was back in school trying to figure out expanded form math and other “new” things that my kid didn’t understand that I never learned or couldn’t remember. I was the mean mom because my kids couldn’t play with friends. I was trying to keep my kids quiet during work calls. Now, we are just doing what works, and honestly sometimes it doesn’t.
Just remember, this too shall pass and we are all in it together, so don’t feel bad if your kids walk into a call and yell “HELLO!” like my Olive did before the holidays, or you are shooing them away as you are trying to work through an issue with your team. I just think about it like this – by now, everyone has had a child interruption of some sort and it always gives everyone else a good laugh. And at least you aren’t on live television, so you are doing just fine making things work!
Abby lives just north of Fishers but is a frequent face at Fishers events like Movies in the Park, the Farmers Market, and Glow in the Park. She is a former professional figure skater who works full time for Customs & Border Protection. Having grown up driving down here on weekends for skating events, she has seen Fishers transform over the years. It feels like Fishers is always working on something new and she loves being a part of it! In her spare time, you’ll find her blogging about “good things” at her site Little Miss Martha, writing for Towne Post, and exploring with her girls! She lives in Noblesville with her husband Mike and two daughters Ella & Olive. Follow her on Instagram and on her blog at hellomissmartha.com.