Whoever thought work-life balance would be easier for people who were working from home never juggled deadlines, meetings, and toddlers at the same time. While it can sometimes be challenging to stay productive in such an unusual circumstance when you’re accustomed to going to an office, there are ways to manage it.
Give yourself (and your family) some grace
If you’re working from home due to COVID-19, understand that there’s more at play here than just a change in daytime scenery. The pandemic itself brings a degree of stress and anxiety, so adding to that the unique challenges of working from home can be a double whammy. Give yourself permission to be a little less productive as you adjust to your new surroundings and the current realities.
It’s also important to understand the stress this causes for little ones at home; and their feelings may be expressed more as neediness or acting out. Taking time to reassure, comfort, and redirect them when they need it will pay off in a happier, healthier child and the opportunity for you to direct more focused attention to later.
Meanwhile, manage expectations: proactively communicate that you can’t guarantee a call won’t be interrupted. And manage expectations with your kids as well: let them know that, even though they see you at home, you’re actually working and that you need to focus until your work is done (but be realistic about their ability to pretend you’re invisible for extended periods).
Give yourself some space
Whether you have a dedicated home office, or nothing more than a corner of the room with a chair and a TV tray, establish a space that’s expressly for work and doesn’t encroach on family or living spaces. Don’t go near that space unless it’s time for work; and when you’re done working for the day, shut everything down and walk away. Taking time away from work is important for recovery of attention and motivation, and it encourages productivity and creativity.
Give yourself some time
Twenty-five minutes to be exact. The Pomodoro Technique of breaking large projects into bite-sized chunks of twenty-five minutes, followed by five minute breaks, maximizes our attention span while restoring our creativity. Training the brain to focus well for short sprints ensures we get the most of our work time, and stepping away from it regularly keeps us energized for the next sprint.
Whether you’re a work-from-home veteran or if this is a new and temporary lifestyle for you, managing expectations, establishing clear workspace boundaries, and focusing for short sprints followed by brief breaks allows for the highest productivity in unusual circumstances.