Maintain Work and House Life Separate as You Work Remotely
November 16, 2020 6 min read
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Lots of people now work from home. This change in the environment takes getting used to, especially if you are used to working in an office. Many working parents manage their children’s online schooling and spouses or roommates spend more time together. It’s harder to keep work and personal life separate.
In addition to these challenges, there is often a lack of space. Not everyone has the space to spread out and enjoy a special office. For those in smaller spaces like an apartment or studio, there are fewer options to physically separate work from home. What happens when the kitchen table becomes your desk?
It is still possible to find balance and stay productive in a remote work environment while maintaining your sanity and having a happy home.
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Use office processes
One of the best ways to ensure that roommates, spouse, and children are on the same page is to borrow some of the work processes that keep everyone updated and organized.
Start with a house calendar that gives an overview of what everyone is up to each day. Parents know the timetable and children or roommates know when you have a conference call and need “quiet time”.
Create this house plan using a large whiteboard calendar or synchronize and share digital calendars. If you use a digital calendar, use features like the reminder alert. That way, everyone in the house knows that a conference call is about to start so they don’t forget about it.
Another office process to be taken over is the daily meeting. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just take ten minutes at breakfast to quickly exchange expectations and plans and ask each other questions about the day’s expected events.
You can also add a minute of gratitude to the conversation, during which everyone shares something positive. This saves interruptions or confusion later. This can set the tone for a much more peaceful work, school, and home environment.
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Make the most of a non-existent commute
One of the biggest advantages of the new regime is the removal of commuting and school trips from the schedule. Suddenly you are blessed with valuable extension, so make the most of it!
Create a new routine to replace that driving time by using it to help the kids out on their school day, go for a walk with your furry family member, or prepare meals.
What you don’t want to do is use that extra time to get more work done. This only leads to burnout and frustration.
Create a separation of physical work
Even if you are in a studio apartment, you can create a separate work area. You can use the kitchen table for your laptop, but when you’re ready for the day, put that laptop in a compartment or drawer until the next work day. Or create a workbox that contains devices, files, paperwork, and everything else related to work.
Physical activity will help you mentally shut down work mode and bring your home back to a personal space. Remember, “Out of sight, out of your head” can be an effective strategy.
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Go out and around
Despite the current restrictions on some activities, it is still possible to get out and enjoy the fresh air. This reduces the “cabin fever” experience that comes with spending so much time at home. You also need to move away from your work environment and move around so as not to become too sedentary.
A little movement will keep you sharp. A walk or a short bike ride helps everyone in the house to free up space from one another and minimizes irritation.
Setting limits with employers or customers
Adapting to a remote environment is not just about employees and their families or roommates. It’s also a dramatic change for employers or clients who may not have beaten boundaries and feel that it is their right to contact you at any time. Even if you are “responsible”, you still have a say in the work.
Communicate with customers or employers about the start and end times of your work day and work week. Stick to these plans and push your limits by silencing or turning off your devices after work. That way, you will not be tempted to react to and encourage the behavior of the employer or customer.
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Ask employers for assistance
Despite all of these tips, it was a particularly challenging experience for many that led to mental health problems. In these times, it is encouraging to see companies begin to develop and offer stress management and employee wellness programs to meet these needs.
Contact employers for resources that can help you cope, whether you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed, struggling with physical problems, or facing sad situations like family or financial loss.
Lower your expectations
While it is good to have standards, the expectations we have of ourselves are sometimes too high and can lead to significant additional stress. They would love to be productive, have the kids at the top of their class, and live and work in a spotless home.
Reality could look and feel slightly different, and you have to agree that something has to give. Nothing has to be perfect. Instead, aim for what you can achieve and focus on what you have achieved.
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