“Don’t open this door unless there’s blood or fire!”
Juggling Family and Work at Home
Being a working parent of children—especially young children—is always a challenge. If you are a parent trying to work from home, however, the juggling act becomes even more complex. Even if you don’t have children at home, sharing a home work space with a spouse or roommates can be dicey at times. And taking online classes at home can raise the same issues. How do you keep your work life and your home life harmonious when they occupy the same space? How do you stay productive when it’s time to work and yet be fully present with loved ones when the work is done?
The balancing act of work-from-home employees became more urgent with the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic, which forced many parents and children to coexist in their home all day every day. Even after restrictions and mandates were eased, many workers (and companies) saw the benefits of remote work and are continuing to work from home.
Working from home offers many advantages, but it also comes with a boatload of stresses. Below are a few tips for easing the tensions and smoothing out the routine, whether you are already working from home or considering the possibility of a career change that includes remote work. And if you are considering remote training to prepare for a new career, you’ll find useful suggestions here as well.
Some people are better at handling multitasking. Switching between work and personal tasks does not fluster them. They are “integrators.”
Others are more comfortable with strict schedules and boundaries. They switch into work mode at 8am and resist transitioning to home mode until 4pm. They are “segmenters.”
The tip here is for the integrators to keep their focus on work and for the segmenters to accept more disruption in their daily routine. In other words, be flexible if you are rigid, and put a little starch in your string if you are not rigid enough. Your employer deserves your full attention when you are working, while your significant other/dependents deserve your full attention when you are not working.
Create a work space
Everyone benefits when you carve out a dedicated space for your job. As an employee, you will find that transitioning from home mode to work mode becomes more automatic when you enter a space that is solely for work tasks. When you enter your work surroundings, whether it is a home office, a partitioned corner of a room, or simply your special “work” table and chair, your brain gets the signal that it’s time to work.
The others who live in your home also benefit because they can tell when you are “at work” and when you are “at home.” They wouldn’t normally burst into your office downtown while you are at work. They can learn the same respect for your work time when you are in your workspace in the home. At first you may need to post a sign on your home office door or the back of your chair:
“Do not disturb unless there’s fire or blood.”
But your family will eventually get it and comply with your work/home boundary.
On the other hand, you can train your brain to leave work in the workspace so you can be less distracted when you are with your family away from the workspace. Your children, spouse, and others can feel comfortable approaching you when you are anywhere besides in your workspace.
Focus is important to productivity, but so is energy and relaxation. Back to the tip about being flexible, your flexible workspace can work against you if you do not control it. When you live in your “office,” it’s easy to let work become a 24x7 distraction. If regular morning and afternoon breaks and a designated lunch period were important in the traditional office, they are even more important when you work from home. Your brain and your body need to shift gears during the day to avoid mental and physical fatigue that lead to burn-out.
The good news is that your work-from-home environment offers excellent opportunities to re-energize. No longer dependent on the break room vending machine, you can eat healthy snacks and meals that don’t pump you full of sugar and then drop you like a lead balloon an hour later. You can enjoy a walk around your neighborhood, tune in a funny YouTube video, read a chapter from your latest novel, or interact briefly with whomever happens to be in the house at the moment. Positive breaks elevate your mood and stimulate your energy for productive work, and they reduce your stress levels. Your family will appreciate a cheerful, relaxed person when you are “at home” with them.
Ditch the goal of perfection
A perfect balance between work life and home life while working at home is an impossibility. Accept it. On any given day, despite your best plans, work or family may have to take priority. Remember the sign, “Don’t disturb unless there’s fire or blood”? Sometimes, there may be fire or blood, and you have to deal with it. On the other hand, you may be under pressure to earn a big promotion or complete a critical project for a client before the weekend. Sometimes your family or housemates have to deal with it.
Despite the short-term emergencies, the real goal is a long-term balance that permits you to be productive at your job while allowing you to enjoy your home life and family when the work is done. It is possible to balance both work and home while working from home. And when you do, the benefits are worth all the effort.
A one-size-fits-all solution for creating a healthy work-from-home environment does not exist. Your preferences and needs, as well as those of your family or housemates, will dictate the best solution for you. It’s important to work hard and get ahead but not at the expense of the people who matter most in your life. Make time and room for both to achieve a happy work-life balance.
You can think of your remote training program as a transition from the traditional workspace to your home workspace. If your goal is to enter a career as a remote worker, there’s no better way to start than as a remote learner. RemoteMode’s full-cycle program for remote career preparation is the ideal introduction to remote work. RemoteMode offers training in more than a dozen high-demand, high-paying careers that lend themselves to remote work. Contact a RemoteMode career advisor today to see how you can go from learning to earning in a few short months.
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