Your husband is a speakerphone guy, so of course, he yells on every call. Your wife is a grazer — she’s in the fridge every 20 minutes. And your kids … well, you’ve never had to figure out how to do your team call with them streaking across the background.
Millions of people are now working from home every day — and not just working alone. They’re working from home with their spouses, roommates and children.
Just because many offices are closed, that doesn’t mean that business has stopped. Working from home is critical to keeping our economies going — whether it’s therapists doing telework or teachers providing online courses for their students, or marketers who are creating social media posts from their kitchen table.
Strategies for running your business with a full house
Today, we’re going to cover some tips to make the most out of working from home — both during the COVID-19 social isolation periods and beyond.
1. Maintain a schedule
When everyone’s staying home for days on end, it can be tempting to let plans get a bit lax. You might start by letting the kids stay up late and sleep in because they don’t have to get out the door in the morning. Then breakfast slips to 10 am, and nobody’s hungry for lunch until 2 pm.
To maintain everyone’s sanity, it’s best to keep a schedule for your family. Have a standard wake-up time, mealtimes and bed-times.
These schedules don’t have to be what they were before self-isolation went into effect. Let’s be honest; these aren’t standard times. But the stability of a schedule will help everyone in your home know what to expect.
2. Plan for work time versus leisure time
Along with keeping a standard schedule, make sure you have clear expectations for what needs to happen during work times — in particular during conference calls.
For older children, set a list of things that they can do (and eat!). This is an excellent time for them to work independently on schoolwork, read, or play a game.
With younger kids at home, try to schedule calls during nap times or stagger your calls for when a partner is available to supervise.
Schedule together time and independent time
No matter how close your family is, everyone needs to have time together, as well as time to be independent. When you’re setting your family schedule, be sure to include definite “independent time” to help keep everyone happier.
Set expectations for what activities are allowed during independent time, whether that time is work time or fun time.
Designate a workspace
If you’re not used to working from home, you may not have a designated office or even desk. While you’re working from home, set up a location that’s your workspace — to both set a physical boundary and a mental boundary to maintain your schedule.
If you do not have a place that can be set up as a semi-permanent workstation, create a routine that gets your mind into work mode. Don’t just settle into the couch and flip on Netflix to work — that’s a recipe for low productivity.
Understand your expectations
Most of us haven’t spent this much time at home, with this level of responsibility and uncertainty. It can feel like you need to be a Pinterest-perfect homebody with photo-perfect meals and mind-blowing science experiments and museum-quality art projects while still keeping up with your business goals. (And don’t forget to start an at-home workout program, too.)
This is a time to relax your expectations a bit and be realistic about what has to happen versus what you’d like to have happened.
Speaking of things that have to happen — make sure you’re still taking care of yourself while you’re taking care of your family and your business.
Take a shower every day, and get dressed, even if it’s just in clean, cozy clothes. Take time to read a book, or practice some meditation or yoga. Listen to a favorite playlist and have a dance party.
You can find mindfulness tips for entrepreneurs here.
Keep up with the basics
While you don’t have to have crazy expectations of yourself, it’s good to keep up with the basics of personal and home care. If your kids have assignments from their school, make sure you’re keeping up with those — even if you’re not going above and beyond.
Remember, as you’re setting the schedules and expectations, get the whole household involved.
This is an unusual and unprecedented time in our world. But with simple structures and essential habits — like schedules and designated work and family time — you can make the best of a unique situation.