You sit down for your 9:00 Zoom call with your boss – primed and ready with a hot latte and a great idea to propose! Just then.. “MOOOOOOM I can’t find my math book!!!!”
Distractions – stress – multitasking. These are all challenges we have encountered when working from home. This year as many of us have transitioned into home offices, we have had to make a lot of adjustments. Spaces that used to be just for eating dinner have now become headquarters for all of our income-earning activities. Our families have gone from together-time to always-together-time. It’s a lot! And you aren’t alone if you have felt challenged.
If you are wondering how to stay productive, while still enjoying your “home-base”, there is a way to balance it all.
As professional organizers, we see all kinds of home offices. Some are closed off from the living areas of the home, with comfortable seating and productive lighting. Others are in the center of the action, in a kitchen or living room. We hear and discuss with our clients what DOES and DOES NOT work when it comes to productivity and organization. Designing your ideal work from home experience can be broken down into three categories.
Read on for some tips and tricks from the Professional Organizers at Imagine Home Organization.
1. Design your PHYSICAL workspace.
How will you shift your space to multi-task for YOU? Look around at the space you are now using to work in. Think about the way you used this space BEFORE it had to serve as your home office. So many of us are expecting our spaces to serve a new purpose without giving them the mindful care and changes they may need to do so. Ask yourself these questions:
- How will I create privacy? Does the space have a door? A curtain? Some barrier to provide privacy? (while the kid’s music, cartoons and your husband rustling around in the pantry might be cute at first, they can also be distracting.)
- What is the lighting like? (Mood lighting was great for dinner and movie night, but not so functional for editing reports.)
- What is my work surface like? (while an ergonomic desk might be ideal, a table or lap-desk can work as well.) Be sure to clear the surface of all clutter before getting to work. The kitchen table is not the ideal spot to work from because so many other activities take place here.
- What about seating? (The couch or even your bed might seem like a comfy option, it doesn’t help focus or your back!) Choose a seat that helps you to have erect posture. You will stay more productive. Be sure to take breaks to move and stretch or even work from your porch!)
- What makes ME productive? What was it about your office that helped you stay on task? If you need reminders to keep on track, try setting mini alarms to go off every hour or download a focus app like Flora.
- BONUS TIP: Spark joy in your physical space! A little goes a long way on this one. An air purifier, or plant can make your home work-space more enjoyable and fresh. Try lighting a candle or diffusing some essential oil in your work space. Play some music that helps you to feel relaxed and productive. Schedule breaks for yourself and then TAKE THEM!
2. Organize your digital workspace.
Digital workspace refers to all of the tools you use on your phone, tablet and computer. While your office computer may have been geared toward work only, your home laptop and phone can be a whole different story. Is it full of distractions? Does it send you alerts that have nothing to do with work? Now that you have a clear and focused physical space, it’s time to bring your digital space up to speed.
- Remove distractions. Consider removing any apps, emails or games that might pull your attention away from the task at hand. At a minimum, turn off all notifications. Create a clear and simplified “digital desktop” to keep you on track.
- Have a dedicated digital calendar. If you didn’t have this before, now is a great time to create one. Using a tool like Google Calendar provides the ease to toggle between “work tasks” and “general calendar”. Getting organized begins by listing tasks that need doing and having a place to put these tasks. Cue calendar!
- Check out your software needs. Do you have reliable video chat software? Are you transferring files from your office to home? Becoming familiar with the tools available can be a bit overwhelming. Take a deep breath. There is help available when you need it. We like using zoom for video-conferencing, and GoogleDrive to share files.
3. Assess your schedule and work practices.
Assessment of your daily schedule and work practices can enhance your productivity. We don’t know what we are missing when we simply continue doing what we have always done.
Many people who have made the transition to working from home have realized that what worked in the office is not as effective as it was in that environment. Habits have to shift, schedules must be adjusted. It takes a lot of flexibility to work from home, especially with your family home too!
- Examine your daily schedule. Try working in blocks. Identify your most productive hours (ie. From 10-12) schedule tasks that take focus during that time block. Be sure to check in with your kids before you go into the productive time block. Clear any small tasks, set out a snack for them. Then let your family know you will be unavailable for the next couple of hours. Time for your power hour!
- Look at your self-care. What little things help you get going in the morning. Maybe at the office you would have a cup of coffee and a quick chat with a co-worker. Make sure you are filling your cup first thing. If its 10 minutes of stretching, a brisk walk around the block, or coffee and chat with your spouse, make sure you get that time. It’s important to start your day with a small something for YOU! The kids will always need breakfast and help getting going. But you need those things too. Make yourself a priority. You will be much more effective throughout your work day.
- Fit in family time: If your kids are home, it may feel natural to make yourself available to them all day long. However, once children have reached school-age, it is quality over quantity that they need. A 10 minute snack time where you are fully engaged, asking questions and mindfully listening, beats 10 check ins where you are multitasking between your work needs, and their needs. Schedule time for a daily snack (perhaps right before your power hour.) Plan to have a half hour lunch together. And spend some time connecting in the evening. Let your kids know that time with them is important to you, and that time spent on work is important too. If you connect in a quality way, your kids will feel fulfilled and are more likely to leave you alone to concentrate on work.
- Posted by Imagine Home Organization
- On November 3, 2020