Whether you’re new to working from home due to the COVID quarantine or you’re returning to your home-based job after having a baby, here are some tips to help you stay organized and boost productivity.
Working From Home
Here at Nook, many of us have worked from home for a few years now. Although Nook HQ is in southern California, our team is spread throughout California, Colorado and Texas. What’s new, however, is having our entire families home with us during this COVID stay at home period! With so many of us juggling work, kids, remote learning and general family life, we thought we’d share our best tips for trying to manage it all.
Set up an Office
If you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated office in your home, awesome! Tidy it up and organize your paperwork as best as you can to replicate whatever filing/organization methods you had established at your office. For the rest of you with limited space, do your best to create a dedicated work area for your computer and other essential work items (and be prepared for your children to ask about EVERYTHING. Pro tip: Use reverse psychology on them and give them the longest, most boring explanation about a stapler as possible so they’re less likely to ask about something else.) The dining table is an obvious choice, but you can even improvise with an ironing board if need be! Demarcating your work space helps to set physical and mental boundaries now that you live and work in the same 4 walls. Don’t forget to keep that area behind you cleaned up for the numerous video calls with coworkers and clients!
Actually Get Dressed
I know this seems like crazy talk, but take it from our seasoned work-from-home folks who say having the same morning routine you had really helps set the tone for the day. Psychologically, you’re more prepared mentally for work when you’re dressed and alert. If you’re slouching and in your pajamas, your brain is getting mixed signals and it can lead to you being frustrated, impatient and less productive. We’re not saying you have to put on a full face of makeup or do your hair every day (we’re not maniacs), but just, you know, maybe make your bed and put some pants on?
Schedule Work Hours
Speaking of keeping your routine, we know you likely won’t be able to keep your normal 8:00am to 5:00pm hours, so it’s best to be realistic with what works for you. Working from home means juggling household tasks and work tasks throughout the day. Try a few different schedules out. Does your day flow better if you work from 6:00-10:00am and again from 2:00-6:00pm, giving you a chance to spend time with your kids or get chores done in the middle of the day? Do you need to teach your kids from 7:00-11:00am and then work from 11:00am-5:00pm? Whatever is best for your new WFH routine, make sure you communicate with your coworkers (and your family) so they know when to reach you. Our WFH moms use visual signals like STOP signs on their office doors or simply having a rule that says when the door is closed, they’re not home (unless it’s an emergency). On that note, be clear about what an emergency is. Not being able to get a Lego set put together is not a reason to interrupt your meeting. But be prepared for it to totally happen.
Take Regular Breaks
Just because you’re working from your dining table now, doesn’t mean you have to eat at your desk! Eat lunch with your kids and take a family walk or bike ride to get fresh air in the middle of the day. Maybe even play a classic recess game with your kids - hopscotch, anyone? Take this time to do middle of the day workouts you couldn’t do at the office! Get your kids involved and do some lunch break dance parties together, too!
Bring Your Kids to Work
In an ideal world you'll get uninterrupted work time, but we all know that rarely happens when kids (or pets) are involved. Invite your kids to your office (or dining table!) to make them feel like they’re part of the fun. If your kids are old enough to sit with you while you work, let them set up their own work space for remote learning/homeschool. This gives them a chance to ask you for help with school work, and makes them feel like they’re “going” to school when they report to their desk. Younger kids can join you at work with coloring books or quiet toys - set up your Nook LilyPad play mat and let them hang out! It’s always fun to get a fresh perspective on your day to day and you never know if your kids might have a great contribution to your work!
Give Yourself Grace & Be Patient!
Luckily, you aren’t alone right now. There are so many other parents and employers having to navigate these waters together. Don’t forget to remind yourself of that when you find your frustrations and anxiety rising. You’re likely more sensitive about it than they are. Also, remember that this is a challenging time for your family. They likely aren’t used to you working from home and they’ll forget about all of these new rules about your “office/bedroom/dinner table/old playroom”.
Working from home is a challenge in the best of times, so don’t worry if you still haven’t quite gotten the hang of it a few weeks into this new routine. Be flexible and make changes as needed, to best suit your work style AND family life!