A few years ago I wrote a blog post about working from home. What a great time to re-post right? Then upon reviewing it, I noticed how gravely different it is when you are trying to work from home during the uncertain time of a global pandemic, while homeschooling kids and with absolutely no childcare, work travel, family assistance, or breaks from any of it. GAME CHANGER. I fully realize that as a white woman in America I live a privileged life in general, but this time in history, in my life, is really hard. For those of you struggling through it with me, I hope this makes you smile and feel like you are not alone. I give you – my REVISED tips for working at home.

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular mandatory. According to GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, half of the US workforce could potentially work from home, but less than a quarter actually do. Most people used to love the idea of being able to work from home at least part time and others (like my husband who fears he would just end up shopping on Amazon in his underwear if we had any money) hate it. In general, employers fear their workers would not be as productive due to constant distractions like Facebook and leaky faucets. Employers are quickly realizing that workers are not as productive due to constant distractions like homeschooling and occupying their children, dealing with pets sitting on their keyboard, endless trips to the refrigerator, social media, and home improvement projects like leaky faucets.

While those distractions can be tempting, there are were also a lot of distractions in an office setting such as chatty co-workers, unproductive meetings, and the ever-popular potluck. There are benefits of being around co-workers, like teamwork and healthy competition, but those benefits can also be distracting and cause self-inflicted anxiety. As someone who works from home full time, here is my advice for someone who is considering it now forced into it.

 

Wear real clothes… most of the time

Just as you would to go to an office – get up, get out of bed, take a shower, and get dressed. You don’t have to put on your business casual attire, but wear real clothes (at least on your top half) that allow you to feel like a fully-functioning human being. This will help you be more productive. At the same time, don’t be too strict with yourself. As long as you don’t have any Skype, Zoom, or Facetime meetings, occasionally let yourself embrace the benefits of working from home by wearing sweatpants, a swimsuit, or whatever the heck you want. Turns out, wearing a swimsuit instead of sweatpants will help you not overeat, and will motivate you into daily exercise. The comments like “Mom you are so comfy and squishy” both help and hurt your self-esteem at the same time! 

 

Energize yourself

Work out, feed children, drink caffeine, meditate, feed children again, pray, put a screen in  front of your children, or do yoga before you turn on your computer or pick up the phone. This will help you be more productive. If you need to go for a drive to Starbucks to get your beverage of choice without a destination just to stay sane before coming back to your house in order to feel like you are “going to work,” do it!

 

Slay your dragons before breakfast

A friend of mine once shared a quote with me – “Slay your dragons before breakfast, or they will eat your lunch.” (During a pandemic, remember to feed your dragons children before breakfast as well, or they will eat you for lunch.) I don’t know much about the author, Michael Hyatt, but it’s a great quote. Tackle your most difficult tasks earliest in the day. With no boss to stand over your shoulder or small humans climbing all over you, it can be difficult to motivate yourself into tackling the biggest obstacles first even get to your computer, but it’s a must. It will make the rest of the day much easier.

 

Choose real meal times

It will be easy to eat all day, or forget to eat. You now have free reign of the pantry, likely within a few steps of your desk. This can be is clearly dangerous. It will be easy to skip meals without your co-workers asking you to lunch or bragging about the sweet leftovers their mom packed them because you are making your kids’ sandwiches while taking yet another Zoom call. Pick a time for a real meal, and a snack as well. You may need to literally “pack your lunch” just as you would to take it to an office. Don’t worry, the kids will remind you that it is ALWAYS a meal or snack time. And don’t skip meals or you’ll end up binging on a bag of tortilla chips at 3pm because you’re starving (this may or may not have happened to me yesterday every day of quarantine).

 

Do one non-work thing per day
try to Survive multitasking all day

If you are a parent, home-owner, or suspect you have some form of Attention Deficit, your biggest challenge will be to stay focused on work when there are 10,000 non-work things you need to do. Because it’s going to tempt you all day, choose ONE thing you are going to accomplish in your home each day. And I don’t mean building a deck. Your one thing should take about 15 minutes. Examples include throwing in a load of laundry, making an online purchase, watering your plants, or putting dinner into the oven. Consider that a bonus accomplishment, but leave all the other non-work related tasks for later. your biggest challenge will be to stay focused on work because children are climbing on you 24/7 begging for attention. Forgive yourself for letting your kids have too much screen time, eat too many snacks, and constantly show up in your Zoom calls.

 

Work in public 
STAY HOME!

Get out of the house sometimes! If you can work from home, you can work from a coffee shop. A change of scenery can boost productivity and the social interaction will be refreshing. Because you’re likely saving on gas money each week, don’t feel guilty about spending $5-10 per week at a coffee shop or restaurant if it helps your sanity.

 

Keep up with your network

Don’t underestimate the power of networking. You will need to make up for the lack of social interaction during the day with additional networking opportunities so you don’t lose your professional connections. Join your local Young Professionals Network, continue to meet former co-workers for happy hour, perhaps work in the office part time, attend local events and volunteer regularly in your communitySay yes to Zoom happy hours, game nights, and Facetime calls with old friends. DO NOT take your computer into the bathroom. Attend virtual events and order out to support local businesses. 

 

Make office hours

Try to set consistent work hours for yourself, just as you would have in a regular office. If you have co-workers and a boss, this will allow them to keep tabs on you. When you are considered “in the office,” be sure to respond quickly to emails and messages so that everyone knows you truly are available during those hours do your best but forgive yourself for any shortcomings. In today’s working world utter chaos, it is very common to work on work-related items outside of those hours, but keep those hours at a minimum for consistency and reliability reasons; and because later tonight after three “quarantinis” you may not want to respond to too many emails from your boss.

 

Stay organized
Stay Alive

Just stay alive. That’s the goal right now. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes my work notes exist on the same piece of paper as my grocery list. Try your hardest not to do this. Keep work separate from personal life and stay organized – you will feel much better about your work/life balance.

 

Reap the benefits

Confession – this morning, after I dropped my kids off at daycare, I came home and took a swim in our pool. I was showered and at my desk before 9am.  Sometimes I work from my porch swing. Why? Because I can. And because I will be more productive after that swim than if I had sat at my desk gazing out the window thinking about it all dayI didn’t shower. I didn’t put on make-up. Because from 6 feet away no one can smell or see me that well. We are all just surviving. Just barely. So give yourself grace, and remember that you are doing the impossible right now. You are multitasking at a new level. Do your best, take a breath, and take things one day at a time.

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]

Jolene Chevalier

Founder & Talent Buyer | How To Concerts

Jolene has been a middle buyer for over a decade, helping colleges and others with their concerts, comedians, and speakers. (And, yes, she is named after the Dolly Parton song.) She would love to talk with you about helping to book, plan, and prepare for your event.

920.764.1200   |   [email protected]