Working from Home Without Losing Your Mind7 Hacks for Surviving Homebound Life
Let’s be honest- life is a little strange right now. We are experiencing what ‘social distancing’ means in a modern connected America. We are used to freedoms and mobility that might not be available to us at the moment. Many workers are working from home for the first time and experiencing all of the ups and downs of this new scenario. As someone who runs her business from anywhere with solid wifi, I have lived the good and the bad of homebound working while parenting two kids. I’d like to think that my insight can help you transition and make the most of this situation. So I’ve listed out some of the boundary setting, scheduling, and perceptions hacks that have helped me along the way.
1. Working Boundaries, People!
Not just the physical 6 feet between humans! Your home is your home, your place of refuge and relaxation – at least it should be. Figure out where you will be working and stick to it. If you work everywhere in your house, you won’t know where you shouldn’t work.
As someone who likes to move around when I work, I have a clear list of no-no places. This helps keep family spaces and work spaces separate. I refuse to work in my kitchen, dining room, or bedroom. I do let myself work in my office (obviously!), the living room if I need a change of scenery, or the back porch when the weather allows. Setting physical boundaries helps me disconnect when I’m with my family.
2. Set Some Hours
Just because you work from home does not mean you can or should work all the time. In the past, this way my downfall. Now I give my clients a clear expectation of what my working hours are. Everyone knows what to expect. I also know when I can shut it down and just be with my family. Your company or boss may have expected hours of you- work past those when needed but don’t make it a habit.
3. Avoiding Negativity
The biggest distractions right now are the news and social media. It is too easy to go down the rabbit hole of doom and gloom news reports. Set some time for yourself to check those but don’t let it happen all day long. If you have been thinking about a social media diet- this could be a good time. We feel like we need to keep checking to see what’s going on, but updates don’t need to be checked hourly.
4. Family Time
Some of us have kids home from school who need attention. I know how difficult this can be to balance but with some creativity and planning- it will all get done. Over the summer I had the same challenges with my kids home and working from home. My best days involved getting up early to work, spending the day time hours with the kids and finishing up work in the evening when my husband could entertain them. This schedule isn’t conventional but it worked well for me most days throughout the summer.
5. Eat Real Meals
Snacking all day will make you feel like crap. Set a real lunch and dinner time with the family. Make family meals a technology free opportunity to connect. Avoid eating in your working areas. I know eating on a regular schedule helps my life stay normalized.
6. Find the Joy
When things are scary, find the joy. This is a great time to work on a gratitude practice. Noticing and appreciating the little things can make all the difference in your perception of the world. I went to the grocery store this morning and saw both ends of the spectrum. I saw a man – who was clearly acting out of fear- snap at the person bagging his groceries. But I also had a nice conversation with the couple behind us in line, and heard the cashier gushing over a women who tried to buy coffee for the staff as a gesture of gratitude for their hard work in challenging times. See the good and be the good.
Write down a list of things you can do with your family while you are homebound. Make the best of this time.
Laughter is powerful. Watch funny movies, read the comics together, do silly things.
When you are ready to laugh at the work from home lifestyle- read this. Warning: Crude Humor and Language, not a comic for the kids
7. Remember- This Isn’t Permanent
Things will get better. Keep writing down your goals. Make plans for the future. Now is the time to invest in yourself and upgrade your mindset. Grab a personal development book- if you would like some suggestions, sign up for my weekly email list. Work on projects that require an investment of time instead of funds.
These weeks can help propel you forward by recharging, making fun memories, and setting the foundation for future projects OR they can be full of anxiety and fear. The choice really is yours. I’ll admit that I’ve found myself scrolling too much and acting out of fear. When I catch myself- I shift back to gratitude. I am grateful that my family is healthy, that we get to spend some quality time together, and that we have been working from home for awhile now and know how to cope.
If you find yourself stuck in the fear- or if you know someone this could help, here is a list of resources from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.