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  • Toni

Make working from home WORK!

In these 'interesting' times, many are working from home for the first time. The distractions are real! I have worked from home on and off over the last 10 years and thought I'd throw a little of my experience your way. So here are a few things to think about to master working from home....

First, space! You need a space. It can totally be the kitchen table, or the couch, or even your bed. It doesn't have to be an actual room. What you need is a way to change the space for optimum focus. I have a desk in my living room in my little townhouse (sort of a nook off my living room) but I don't have a door between me and the rest of the house, the Xbox, the children, etc... With the kids being home all of the time, it's not reasonable to tell them to stay out of the living room all day. Also, I really like to work from my comfy couch. Headphones and a lap desk are a must!

Second, rules! You have to set rules with the other people in your house AND yourself. Having a sign to say when you are/aren't available is also helpful. I am a freelancer, so I get to set my own hours. I help get the kids logged into online school, then try to be at my desk by 9:30. My kids know there is a two hour window where they should only interrupt me for REAL issues. After lunch, similar deal. This rule is also for me so I have designated times my brain knows are for maximum productivity. We also have a little family meeting each day so they know when I'll be on Zoom with clients and there are no surprises. Now let's get real parents, this is not fool proof. Children are children. I have one with Asperger's/ADHD, and one with pretty severe dyslexia, so it's no joke over here. These rules are really just guidelines for some attempt at a schedule. Which brings us to the most important tip....

Third, flexibility! It took me years to learn this, but I have to be willing to walk away in the middle of something. Not a Zoom call of course, but writing, designing, etc... I have a stack of post-it's where I make a quick note to help me remember what the heck I was doing when I walked away from my desk (baby brain is now 40's brain). I have a small digital timer that I can pause to track my billable hours. When the kids do need me, they can come stand next to my desk until I acknowledge them so I can get to a stopping point before I get interrupted.

Last, forgive! Forgive yourself for not spending every moment at your desk. Working from home is not the same as working in an office. Not that you can't be just as, if not more productive. It's just different. Getting into a routine at home requires you to think differently. I used to spend a fair amount of time getting coffee, messaging with co-workers, and searching for a podcast to listen to while at the office. Now, I get interrupted by little boys and laundry. Different, but not bad different, just different.

I know working from home isn't for everyone. It requires discipline and a fair amount of thinking outside the box. However, I know you can be successful if you remember these few tips. Happy Pandemic everyone!

No make-up, sitting in the back of the minivan, eating Sonic, needed to get outta the house!

(...and Sonic needs to sell booze)

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