How to making working from home work
I could not believe my eyes. I was utterly shocked and looked in the camera like I was caught. What I saw, did not make me happy.
I sat in an online video meeting and when I turned around for a second, the huge mess behind me became visible. It was like a bomb had exploded. Not only I noticed it, but all my clients on the other side of the camera got a glimpse of this chaos.
Casually I continued the session, as if this was the most normal thing in the world; even though a left-over half-eaten breakfast was on the table behind me. Together with a stuffed animal, a pair of shoes (!) and a shirt draped over a chair. Internally, I felt as if I could die.
How is it possible that every time when I work from home, I have to do so much more than if I don’t work from home? If I go to the office, I close the door behind me in the morning only to open it again in the evening. Easy peasy.
It was my ideal picture: working from home. But it did not meet the harsh reality.
Has that ever happened to you? You’re thinking to work relaxed from home only to find out this is, all but relaxed.
What can you do about it?
Situations like these have partly to do with expectation management, yours and of those around you. Why are those items still on the table? Because you are working from home and you will sort it out before you start. When you always do this, you will maintain this situation.
Doing the laundry
You are home right, so you can quickly fill up the washing machine and do the dishes. And when that is done, tidy up a bit. But when the washing machine is done, you’ll need to hang up the wash or dry it. And then you need to fold it. You are home, so you might as well.
Realise that each interruption, even the smallest, will always cost you at least an additional 11 minutes. Your concentration is disrupted and it will take you additional time to refocus and get back in flow. Taking a break is recommended but only to re-energise not to do some different kind of work.
Can you pick up the kids?
As you are working from home, your love calls you whether you can quickly pick up the kids.. or run an errand. You are close by and you have the time anyway.
At this point in time, you are extremely stressed out, as due to all the other non-working stuff that is going on; you have not managed to do half of what you had planned to do.
Your efficient work-from-home-day has changed into a messy and chaotic day.
No not now, I am busy
Upon arrival at home, your kids ask for your attention. You try to give them your undivided attention but meanwhile your thoughts wander off to the email you still need to send out. When they start to play, you quickly grab your phone and start typing the message.
While doing so, you immediately notice all the new emails that have arrived. You start replying to these; it is- after all- important to stay on top of things. Of course this does not work out as the moment you are about to sent out your first reply, your daughter stands next to you.
So you snap: Not now, I am busy! Before finishing your sentence you already regret your growl (and you realise that the soothing will take even more time than it would have taken to listen immediately).
You know it: working from home does not work
If your office is at home, like in my instance that does complicate matters. And let’s be honest here, we are not just talking about working from home, do we? This also applies to a lot of other areas in your life, is not it?!
Because all that matters here is setting boundaries. It is about making yourself important. Sharing the load, being clear about what you want and need as well as taking action.
What you can do
So how do you make it work? Setting boundaries and working more efficient you manage by:
1. Being clear about what you do (and don’t do)
Be clear about what you can do. To yourself and the people around you. So you are working from home. As you are working, you are not doing anything else. Share this with your family and the people at home. More importantly: stick to it. Try not to save someone. Just because someone else’s planning is not going well and you’re more flexible doesn’t mean you have to solve all the problems that occur in your household.
Sometimes the only way to get a message across, or to get things done is to let it slide. To let it get worse before it gets better. By letting it go, it becomes clear that a different solution is needed. Continuously solving matters is not helping you, it is only helping others.
2. Pretend like you are not working from home
What works very well for me, is pretending I am going to the office. Like in I am leaving the house. Accordingly there are certain things I am not doing, as I would not do them in the office, like:
- No washing
- Making sure every family member cleans up their own mess before they leave the house
- Be behind my desk at 9.00 am, in my work outfit. Even though I love sweat pants and no make-up, it does make me less productive and less representative on video
- Don’t run an errand
- Do not pick up the kids, if I would not normally do this
3. Be there completely, or not
If you are at home and your love and kids are there with you, be there for 100% or don’t be there at all. This is where it goes wrong the most times. It is because we tend to quickly squeeze in answering an email. Or doing something on social media.
For your loved ones, it is not clear whether you are working or you are not. Because you are close yet far away as your mind is not there. If this happens too often (and be honest here it does) this causes confusion, and angriness. You’re blurring the boundaries.
It is better to finish something, somewhere else. By moving physically out of the way you create in a literal and figurative way a distance. Often my clients will tell me: I cannot, as I do not have my own workplace. That is possible of course but there is always a spot in your house, where you can work uninterrupted. Even if you go sit on your bed (which I personally like a lot at the end of a workday).
If you are done working, take a break. If you really want to be there for your loved ones, put away your phone. Focus all your attention towards your family members.
Setting boundaries is incredibly important. Not only for you but also for the people around you. Sometimes, it is also unbelievable difficult; especially when everything happens around you and asks your attention.
I personally have the habit to drop everything I was busy with instantly. So I can support others and help them. How about you? Is this something you do on a regular basis? Does it keep you from working on your own things and holding you back? If so, please join my FREE challenge later this month “How to make it all possible” You register for it here.
Yvonne Dam is an online life coach and career coach who helps busy, ambitious people to enjoy life. She helps them to focus on what matters in their lives and careers, in order to make more money and achieve more freedom! After feeling trapped in the corporate world, Yvonne decided to do more of what she loved and found the more she chose to do what she wanted, the happier she became. Yvonne is passionate about coaching and sharing her expertise with you so you can be liberated to fully embrace life. Ready to pause your busy life for a moment and download some happy vibes? Get my FREE eBook and feel happy!