I work remotely, and I often get people telling me: “You are so lucky you work from home; you have so much time to spend with your kids.”
Well, this isn’t always the case, and sometimes working remotely is difficult. The lines between work time and family time often get blurred. Keeping the two separated but balanced can prove challenging.
Here are some tips that can help you:
This might sound silly, but psychologically it is so important. When working from home, it is so easy to roll out of bed and start working. But don’t make every day (or even most days) pajama day. Getting dressed switches your mind from sleep mode to work mode. It is so important for your brain to have that distinction. It’s also good for your family to see that you are ready to work.
The most important part about this space is that there is a door! It is important that your family knows that when you are in that room, you are working and are off-limits. With the door closed, you block noise and people out.
Making a schedule not only keeps you organized and on track, but it also keeps everyone in your family on track. With a schedule, it’s clear when you need to be working and they need to figure things out for themselves versus when you will be available. (Do make sure that when you set this schedule, you schedule in break times for yourself!)
A schedule makes things clear between you and your family. Set hours make things clear between you and your clients/co-workers. Having the same times you’re available each day (or at least consistently for Mondays, consistently for Tuesdays, etc.) will manage boundaries, expectations – and your peace of mind. If the people you work with know that business-wise you’re not available from 3PM-7PM when your kids come home from school until after dinner, they won’t expect your response to anything at those hours, and you won’t feel pressure to check emails or do work then.
I always put my “office hours” in my email signature, so it’s clear for my clients when they can expect a response to their email or a project to be completed and when they should not.
Remember, working remotely doesn’t mean you need to work from home. If you have small children at home, take at least one day during the week and hire a babysitter for a few hours. Use that time to work in a quiet place with few distractions, so you can get as much work as possible done in that time.
Sometimes life just gets in the way: Sick kids. Summer vacation. A family function you need to attend. When these things happen, the first thing to do is to keep the lines of communication open. Explain to your clients that you might not be available at the usual times, and let them know when they can expect you to be available or to complete the work you committed to.
You also might have to respond by adjusting your schedule. You might stay up later than normal to work, or wake up early before everyone else to get work done at that quiet time in the morning.
There are so many advantages to working from home. It will take some trial and error, but with these tips and a little bit of thought, you can maintain a work/family balance where everyone can be satisfied.
Submitted by Debbie