10 Tips to Find Balance Working at Home

(Part 1 of 2)

We get it. We’re all working in a new state of normal in our workday. And that new state looks an awful lot like our living rooms, kitchens, and spare bedrooms.

It’s tough to turn what many thought of as a respite from work into the very hub of that activity.

Amongst our team, we’ve chatted endlessly about how we can all work better while at home.

And we know it’s a hot topic amongst the masses, too.

Then we remembered, we have a resource right under our virtual roof that can help you with that.

Enter Lindsay Gomez, our Business Operations Manager, who also worked from home for many years as a business operations consultant.

Through a fair amount of experimenting, testing and trial and error over the years, she dialed in how to effectively and successfully WFH.

Here’s her top how-to’s for working from home when you’ve never done it before.

1. Set the Stage

Before you get to working, make sure your home workspace is defined in some way.

If you have the room, then, YES, determine a space that is specifically for working in your home. It doesn’t have to be an entire room. A corner of a larger area will do.

The important part is that you and others in your home know that when you’re there, you’re working, which helps to minimize distractions, set boundaries and really close out the end of your day.

If there are certain products that help to set the tone for your workday, such as your desk calendar or daily notebook or file folders, have those at the ready.

I’ve continued to use our Project Folders with Write-on Tabs, to organize projects and keep them moving forward, and our Expanding File with Hanging Tabs, to easily go from desk to drawer.

2. Set Your Routine

There’s merit to the idea of “lather – rinse – repeat”. Our brain likes habits and routines because it allows it to be ultra-efficient.

That’s what you want to create in your day, even though it has the opportunity to be a bit more free form right now.

It’s the idea of a routine. Notice, I didn’t say schedule. Schedule implies that specific steps need to happen at specific times.

While many of us do have tasks and responsibilities that are time dictated, not all of our work is. So, where you can, ease up on treating your day like an appointment book. Look more at the flow.

What happens first?

What happens next?

And after that?

When will you take a break?

When will you end your workday?

I’m a creature of habit, so my routine hasn’t changed much. My husband is going into the office on a part-time basis, which means that our household wakes up every other morning as if it’s a typical workday.

So, I continue to wake up, get dressed and ready for the day, have breakfast, and read through my emails while enjoying my morning coffee, just as I’ve always done.

3. Stick to the Plan

At the start of each day, set aside five minutes to write out the plan for that day. What projects need to be worked on? What tasks tackled?

I’m a huge fan of the 1-3-5 principle, which outlines that on any given day, you should have no more than 1 large task, 3 medium tasks, and 5 mini-tasks on your daily plan. If you have more than that, you’re not setting yourself up for success. Inevitably, some items might need to be pulled from your plan for that day, but don’t worry, you can slot them in tomorrow’s plan.

4. Mind your Time

Focus starts with knowing what to do. I make sure to have a very clear list of action items each day (see #3 above).

Then, when it comes time to be present at the virtual meeting or work on a specific project, close down all other distractions on your computer and set a timer.

That’s right, give yourself a very specific allotment of time (usually 25-55 minutes) to work on a project. When the timer is up, make sure to physically move away from your workspace.

Sitting and powering through for long stretches at a time just serves to reduce my focus, as it does for most people. Over time, it actually produces diminishing returns.

Our ability to keep that high level of attention goes down without intentionally stepping away from the computer or desk.

I’m sure to give myself that time to step away for a few minutes. Sometimes it’s to have a mini snack or go through a quick yoga sequence.

5. Call it a Day

Remember that in #2, you’re going to set up your daily routine. And in that routine, you’re going to decide when you’ll wrap-up your workday.

As the physical separation between home and office is blurred beyond all recognition right now, this step is vitally important.

Declare what time you’re going to end your workday. And then, stick to it.

You might even want to incorporate a specific step that triggers to your brain that you’re done. Maybe it’s telling yourself, out loud, “I did my best today. The workday is done”. Or turning off the lights in your office space. Or not going back in that space until the next workday.

Check out the remainder of “10 Tips to Find Balance Working at Home” in next week’s blog.

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