I should preface this blog with, I have 2 kids under 2. So my truth and what works for me could be totally different that yours. If you don’t have kids or they are old enough to understand “Daddy is working”, you are on a whole different level of ability than I and you should feel lucky!
Many of us have worked in an office for many years. Besides the work you can do from your phone while at your house, maybe you’ve never considered doing the brunt of your work from home. And here you are, forced to work from home. I love my office, I love having my work space and getting into the zone and getting work done. Now I am forced to work from home.
In the century long two weeks we’ve been home, I’m starting to get into a groove. The groove of how to get the hours I need to get in and STILL be able to spend hours of quality time with my family. I’m writing this now, during my new habit of working from 7:30/8 at night to 10/10:30.
So below is what I have done to make my new normal work. I hope it helps you if you are struggling with the balance and productivity of working from home.
Set up your “Office”
I live in a house where the office is right next to the kitchen. It has bay doors where my 2-year old can come and press her face up to the window and start her “Daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy… play?” Who am I kidding, if she asks me to play, LESSS GO! I’m playing!
On Thursday the 26th of March on my first day of working from home, I moved my office to the bar in the newly finished basement. It has good surface area for me to spread out my stuff, is “away” from the family and is now, my space.
When I go down into the basement, sit at the bar, pop the laptop open, get the pad and pen out, it’s go time. I am at the office.
I play music and podcasts in the background regularly at the office. I am also about 20 feet away from my closest collegue who is also working while at the office. Not. The. Case. At. Home. As I said above, I have 2 under 2 and my 2-year old is about as active as they come. Running around upstairs, yelling, playing, screaming. Man! That sounds like fun, I should get up there and play! No…. nope, stay down here in your cave and work. Bad Patrick… Bad.
Plugging in the headphone may be a bad look if you’re at the office working with colleagues. Just as at the gym, headphones are the universal symbol for leave me the f alone. If you don’t know that, shame on you. Leave the people with headphones on at the gym alone. It is the same message at the office. Your collegues may have questions for you but may not feel comfortable asking if you’re plugged in.
Well, at home, plug in those headphones and jam out to whatever your hearts content. No more hearing the running, playing and joyful sounds that family brings. You can now get some work done while listening to Disney Music errrr Hard Rock, YEAH!
Here is something I’ve never really done. I was the get into the office kind of guy at 6AM and leave at 4PM. If I had appointment throughout the day, great. Or after work, no problem, pretty much 90% of my days end before 5:30PM. 5:30-7PM is family time. After that, was anyone’s guess.
I just can’t do that now. As much discipline as I like to think I have. I want to spend hours when my kids are awake with them. This time at home has been amazing as far as spending SO MUCH TIME with my wonderful family.
Now, time blocking:
6-9AM – Head to the Office. This part of my schedule has not really changed. I need to get into the office to make sure our buildings are safe and secure and while I am down there, I get a few hours of work in.
9-10AM – Set up My Home Office Day. Prep my to-dos for the home office.
10AM-12PM – Play time with the Kids. Yep, we go on walks around the park, I help my wife with lunch and I put my little 2 year old down for her nap. How cool!
12-4PM – Nap Time for the Kids, Work Time for Daddy. Here is where I hunker down for the major tasks of the day. Where the most mental bandwidth is needed. My kids are asleep usually for at least 2-3 hours of this time and I have 0 guilt getting the work I need to get done done.
4-7:30PM – Family Time. We may get a work out in, cook dinner, play outside. Whatever, this time is great and now that the weather is getting nicer, yep lets spend it outside together!
7:30/8-10/10:30PM – Some final touch ups of the work day. Follow through on anything that didn’t get done earlier in the day. Check e-mails, voicemails, blog, shoot videos, whatever these two hours can get me to be the most productive and rewarding.
It’s now been almost 2 weeks and this schedule is getting nailed down. That being said, it is still not a habit. I think I forgot my wallet at the office because I am not in my normal rhythm of routines.
Now, I want and am staying active, productive and engaged in business. If anything, my efficiency of work has increased and the distractions are less at my home. But I would be lying, if it hasn’t been an absolute gift to spend this time at home with my young family. I am fortunate enough to be able to work remotely and have been able to for quite some time, but I’ve never taken advantage of it. This event has forced my hand and pushed me into working more from home. I want to look back at this time and know that I crushed both my work goals and the opportunity to spend valuable time with my family.
Don’t feel guilty about spending time that otherwise would have been spent working with your family. Be flexible with your schedule and allow yourself to enjoy what you work so hard for. We wouldn’t work if we didn’t want to provide for ourselves and our family. This is an opportunity to provide for them in your presence and love.
Ultimately, setting up my office, plugging in my headphones and getting on a new “normal” schedule have allowed me to feel successful in this trying time. I would love to hear what you have done to adjust to the current situation. Do you think it is going to change your habits moving forward? Are you going to ask your boss/company for more flexibility to work from home? I know it has a lot of companies deciding if in fact they need as much office space as they currently do. We are a generation of technology and information. We are lucky to be able to work remotely.
Thanks for reading. I hope you and yours are safe and healthy and navigating this situation to the best of your ability.