Tips and Tools for Working From Home
I'll get straight to the point, after 15 years working from home with young children, then around their school hours, and now with them temporarily homeschooling - I've learned a thing or 12 that I'm hoping you may find helpful.
Tips and Tools for Working From Home
Keep it simple.
Don't try to reinvent the wheel, you truly only need the essentials. For the first few years I had a small desk in the corner of our bedroom, and it was completely sufficient. The only problem I had was turning work mode off. I was much less likely to stop working at a decent hour when my desk was in the same room I was supposed to relax and go to sleep in. This was definitely before our 2 girls came along. 😂
Set Working Hours
Which brings me to my next tip, set working hours. In this strange new normal I now work before the girls get up, while they're having free time, and then after they go to sleep if need be. Do not try to do important work when it's impossible to focus. Save it for later. Get up early, whatever you have to do to avoid losing your cool if you're interrupted. Just me? Keeping it real. I get incredibly frustrated when interrupted because it's already so difficult for me to focus. If you do find yourself frustrated, try to laugh at how crazy everything seems lately. Give yourself some grace, boo. Then turn this dance party playlist up loud and shake it off.
Regardless of whether you're working at your kitchen table, the couch, or a home office - minimizing clutter will minimize distraction. If you're working at your island staring at a sink full of dishes, chances are you'll struggle to focus. On the couch with a basket of laundry? Hard pass. Either knock the dishes and laundry out first, or move to another room.
Do what works for YOU.
Everyone and their mother uses Slack. I don't like it. Lots of people swear by it. If something doesn't work for you, find an alternative.
Hey guess what? You don't have to sit at a desk all day if you don't want to. When the weather is nice, I work at the patio table outside. Shoot, sometimes I'll even lay in the chaise lounger. You make the rules at home as much as you're able.
Know when to take a break
This has always been a big one for me, as I learned early on, the work I do after sitting in the same place for hours isn't exactly my best. Get up. Move around. Go watch an episode of Schitts Creek (so. funny.). Do some yoga, or try a free meditation app.
Don't isolate yourself. Just because you work from home, doesn't mean you can't hop on a video call with a friend or colleague instead of sending another email or text.
When you work from home especially, exercise has to be prioritized for your mental health. A minimum of 30 minutes a day is essential for me to feel like a human being and avoid that "stale brain" feeling. I don't know if that's an actual term people use, but it's exactly what it feels like.
Tools for working from home
A plethora of amazing tools have been created as more and more people work from home. Most of these have a free trial period so you can try 'em out to see what does and doesn't work well for you. These are not affiliate links, just highly recommended tools.
Trello - The tool I use the most. Trello lets you work more collaboratively and get more done. Trello’s boards, lists, and cards enable you to organize and prioritize your projects in a fun, flexible, and rewarding way.
Zoom - Video conferencing made simple.
Join.me - Another video conferencing option.
Asana - Asana is the work management platform teams use to stay focused on the goals, projects, and daily tasks that grow business.
Dropbox Business - Another collaborative work option. Organize all your team’s content, tune out distractions, and get everyone coordinated with the world’s first smart workspace.
Focus Booster - Using focus booster you will achieve more, understand how you use your time and feel satisfied knowing you are productive.
Those are just a few tools, if you find yourself struggling with a particular issue as you navigate working from home, google it. I bet there's software available to help. There are even browser extensions from Chrome to manage how much time you spend on each website. You know, to stop flipping back and forth between facebook and email for instance. 🙈
To The Work At Home Moms
I want to speak to you directly, as this is something I have a ton of experience with (good, bad and disastrous). You will not be perfect at this. You will not nail it every single day. Some days you won't be able to work at all. Some days it's going to feel impossible. Some days it will actually be impossible. Do not let mom guilt set in, and if you spiral one day, get right back up the next day and start new.
When I feel overwhelm begin to take over I repeat these three words to myself.
For whatever reason, and maybe because I love a good alliteration? These three words have always come to me when I need them. Several years ago I had a very talented gal hand letter a sign for me to place above my desk so I see it every time I sit down.
Patience. - With yourself, with those around you. With the world right now as some have taken to social media to express their frustrations. Be patient.
Perspective. - Now more than ever a perspective check is beyond helpful. Does a missed deadline matter more than helping your child understand their schoolwork? Nope. For that matter, does stressing that you're doing the appropriate amount of schoolwork matter more than having meaningful conversations with your kids? There's a balance, but, again, perspective.
Prayer. - I don't think I've ever prayed so much in my life outside of when my Husband was deployed. For peace, for calm, for health, for the health of others, for our public servants, truck drivers, and everyone whose job requires they be anywhere but home as we navigate these uncertain times. For the ability to focus, and discern when I should take a break. Being in constant conversation with God is 100% the best piece of advice I can offer.
Take deep breaths, try different things until you find a good rhythm, try your best to have fun with it and keep your coffee away from your keyboard. Kids and dogs are unpredictable, and keyboards do not dry out in rice. At least in my experience 😆.
I'd love to connect with you in our new facebook group to chat more, share your favorite memes, and whatever it is you need to get through this time.
Hang in there, y'all! We've got this.