Life has been a little crazy lately. Well, maybe it’s not lately, to be honest it’s starting to feel like it’s been this way forever. Currently, we’re on our sixth month of COVID fun-times, and it doesn’t look like things are going back to normal anytime soon (efffffff). But things aren’t all bad, at least not in my neck of the woods, and I’m hoping not in yours either. There have been many people among all of this madness that have lost their jobs. Whether it be temporary or not it’s definitely not anything that can be planned and it makes me feel even more grateful to have the job that I have and to still be able to work. This doesn’t mean that things haven’t changed, oh no, things have most certainly changed. Instead of going into the office everyday, I’m now marching my lucky butt down my hallway to my new home office. Mind you it took me 5 months to get to this point, I was at the kitchen table for the majority; however, this move has made it so that I’m almost always working from home (excepting times when I need to go in to photograph, video or have face-time). And I gotta say, I’m super enjoying it, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
Working from home can be a distraction in and of itself. I know when I first started it was almost difficult to separate life stuff from work stuff and to make sure I was dosing a healthy balance of both. It took me some time to get my bearings straight, and a few tricks as well that I want to share with you in this post today. So, if you’re working from home and struggling to keep your head on straight like I was, keep reading to learn more about some simple actions I made to make my work-from-home life a little bit easier.
Have a Dedicated Workspace
Whether it’s a spot at your kitchen table or a separate room that serves as a home office, having a dedicated workspace is a must for working from and staying focused. I started out working at my kitchen table which wasn’t ideal, but I had a few things that helped make it bearable. I dedicated a full drawer in my side table to my work gear – laptop, notebooks, pens, mouse, etc. This drawer made it easy to pull out everything I needed at the start of my day and to put it all away at the end. If you don’t have a drawer, find a basket or a tub or any kind of organizer that you can place your work items in. It’s important to maintain a life-work balance when working from home and this is the first step in not having your work-life literally pouring over into your home. Obviously having a home office you can leave everything out and close the door, but also be sure to keep things tidy like you would at your typical workplace to avoid becoming overwhelmed with clutter.
Keep a Planner
Keeping a planner has saved my sanity over the last six months more than I could have imagined. When March 2020 arrived I was ready to throw my 2020 planner out, but I’m so glad that I didn’t. I sit down at the beginning of my workday every day and make sure I have all of my daily tasks outlined for the day. I even put personal tasks on the right side of the page to keep my entire life more organized. As you move through your tasks you can check them off or move them to the next day depending on where you are. I also keep what I like to think of as a “big picture” plan which is a list of the larger projects I have on my plate. This makes it so I can list out my large projects and then use the daily planner to break those down into achievable daily tasks. Not only is this helpful to organize my day, it’s gratifying to see my checklist at the end of the day completed and to be able to review everything I accomplished.
Don’t Quit Your Routine
This tip was huge for me! Just because you’re working from home doesn’t mean you should work in your pajamas every day or stop showering, eating breakfast and moving through your normal daily routine. I like to continue my routine in an almost identical way that I did when I was going into the office. Not only does this make life feel more normal but it helps keep me on track to accomplish my tasks for the day whether they are for work or for my personal life. Don’t let quarantine make every aspect of your life pajamas and couch life – although cheat days are fully encouraged.
Having background noise is one of the most simple ways I maintain focus. Somehow it helps drown out other distractions and makes me feel like I can zone out on one thing at a time. And it doesn’t always have to be music. Sometimes it’s a television show playing in the background, or even just white noise from a water fountain. I prefer to listen to music that has little to no lyrics and a good beat – Lofi/Chill music on Spotify is my jam! And if I’m going the television/Netflix route, I like to make sure I’m watching something that I don’t have to give all my attention to or something I’ve seen multiple times that won’t be a distraction instead of just background noise.
All in all, times are super tough right now for many if not all of us. If you have the ability to work from home like I do it’s good to be grateful but it can also feel like things are spiraling out of control. Hopefully these small tips can help you maintain focus and find a bit of peace in your day to day.