It’s been months of working from home. Have you mastered it yet? No? That’s ok, some have, some have not. What is your challenge with working from home? For me it is having the hybrid school “thing” going on. I love and I hate having the boys around so much. Can anyone else relate?
A few friends asked me about my WFH habits and what has worked what has not. Here is a bit of my history on the topic and some of my tips. I hope they help.
I had a long career in corporate with the full on “dress for success” mentality and the long commute in the Boston area of all places. In 2009 I left corporate and began my coaching business. How I came to this decision and the steps leading up to that day, I’ll tell you another time. For now, let me share 11 years of experience of working from home. In these 11 years I have learned much about remote work.
2 BIG things I have Learned:
- Nothing is perfect
- Have a routine
Nothing is Perfect:
As many of you have, in 2020, we have learned, working from home is not the ideal that many of us were led to believe it would be. It has its ups and downs, pros and cons. It was 2009 that I began working from home. My 2 sons were still young, and their school schedules were a bit odd. My husband had just finished his master’s degree, having worked at the degree full-time and his job part-time for 2 + years.
I created an office space in the finished basement of our home. It was good and comfortable but had little in the way of natural light or being able to see the kids outside if they were playing in the yard. It was good to be home but it had its challenges, though minor, I agree.
This will sound strange, but I did miss my commuting time. I had gotten in the habit of listening to the radio or a favorite podcast or would make calls to friends and family during my 45-minute commute. Are you feeling the same now? Are you missing the commute? Even a little?
When we moved to Saratoga Springs NY, the boys were in elementary school and my husband was working 7 days a week. I was working part-time from home and was a bit lonely, if I’m to be honest with you. I’m the natural extravert in our family. My husband is the introvert. Funny isn’t it. The introvert is working with people all day long while the extravert was home alone. We still are challenged by this set up, especially for me during 2020.
Needless to say, nothing is perfect. The WFH gig worked because it had to in 2020 but not because it was a dream to do so. It wasn’t ideal in 2009 either but it is what I wanted and needed at the time. I will admit it was fun planning and setting up my office then and even in 2020 when my NY office got a redo. Like anything WFH has its pros and cons. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t in your WFH set up.
Have a Routine:
The second lesson I learned in my 11 eleven years of WFH is to have a routine. I learned this quickly as you can see from my story. Juggling 2 little boys and a husband who had a high demand work schedule, pushed me to adapt quickly. I learned that my day could be lost if I did not put in big boundaries for myself to become disciplined. This area of self-discipline is still an area I struggle with even now. Managing our daily priorities and schedules is key to living on purpose and accomplishing more of what we want to.
Early on in my work from home world I struggled with getting dressed every day and staying at my desk. Now the struggle is with balancing several opportunities and making sure I give each their proper time. My writing and marketing tasks land last on my list, unfortunately. I’ve learned I need these tasks to be earlier in my workday. Honestly, it’s still a challenge.
As a frame of reference here is a general idea of my workday routine:
- Alarm everyday – Sun – Friday – 5:30 or 6:00am
- Coffee, let out dogs, quiet time
- Wake family & get them set for their days
- Shower, dress – this includes makeup, hair done, jewelry, jeans and nice top (for video). If doing a training may put on dress pants and heals for affect (really for myself to feel better). Rarely and I mean rarely do I wear yoga pants during my workday.
- At my desk no later than 9:00am
- Lunch – 20 minutes
- Maybe a 20-minute walk mid-day, depending on the weather and schedule
- Wrap up day between 3:00pm – 4:30pm. I plan to be done at 3:00pm but if the boys are busy or not at home, I might continue working on a project, again depends on the day and workload.
Yes, I work part-time, and these rules can apply to full-time and other situations as well. I set my schedule and stay with it. I learned early on that I needed to have boundaries. Without boundaries I turn evil, tired, irritable and unproductive. When I’m sick, I don’t work. I may answer a few emails, but I actually rest and heal.
How about you? Have you found your routine yet? Have you found ways to focus and stay productive without losing your sanity, soul, or spouse? If you need some help, reach out. I’m happy to discuss strategies with you.