The Paradox of Working from Home
And how to address it
Forty-one percent of the American workforce now work from home, which is double the amount who did pre-pandemic. After being forced to work remotely people are now seeing the huge benefits of working from home with seventy-four percent of people saying that working from home is better for their mental health and sixty-seven percent saying that they are more productive from home.
Of course, there is also a flip side. In addition to contributing to an overall sense of loneliness and isolation, working from home can be tricky to manage because it blurs the boundaries between work and life.
This often manifests as a paradox with not being able to focus on the one hand and letting your focus consume you on the other. It has taken some trial and error for me to find my own solutions to both of these issues. Here’s how I’ve found some balance.
Create Your Space
Not everyone has the space to have a designated office at home, but dividing your workspace from your personal space is important because it creates a mental separation for you (and anyone else in your home) between work and non-work. Set up some designated workspace where you do only work. Make sure your space is comfy and inviting; this helps get you in there, so you will actually use it. At first, I did a lot of work from my couch or bed (see “get dressed” below). While it was amazing to get back in bed in the morning with my computer or snuggle up on the couch with some HGTV as background noise, I found that doing work outside of my designated area actually made it harder to stop. I would often look at the clock and realize that it was 1pm and I was still in bed, or that eight episodes of House Hunters had passed me by (…again). Having separate work and non-work spaces will help you shut it down when it is time to stop.
Make a Schedule
Being at home often means that you can get distracted by other things that need to be done (e.g., laundry, dishes, etc). Being able to do these things is one of the greatest perks about working from home, but don’t let them distract you from your work. Create a schedule for yourself that allows for some designated time to do these things. This can also be a great way to break up your day. Perhaps have an appointment on your calendar that reminds you to take a mid-morning “unload the dishwasher” break, or an afternoon “walk the dog” break.
As mentioned above, it is easy to get going on something and then not know how much time has passed. Without co-workers there to distract you, you can easily “get in the zone” and then before you know it, it is 4pm and you haven’t eaten lunch, or moved at all in the last five hours. Set some clear break times and stick to them. Put them on your calendar, set a timer, or follow the “get moving” prompts on the fitness tracker of your choice. Having designated space will also help a ton with this. Set a time when your day begins and ends, mark that time by entering/exiting your workspace.
This is another way to draw a line between work and non-work. I am not saying that you need to put on your pumps, tie, or pencil skirt to sit around the house. I actually just make a point of putting on my workout clothes instead of my pajamas (my life is rough, I know), washing my face, and getting my hair into some sort of order. This transition makes it feel more like a workday and less like a weekend day. I am not proud to admit it, but when I first started to work from home there were days when my husband would come home to find me in the exact same clothes as when he left (when I was still in bed with my computer). It was only too easy to roll out of bed, grab coffee and my computer, go back to bed, and start working. Getting dressed (workout clothes are an acceptable form) helps break the day into work/non-work. This also helps me get to the gym, which is another great way to break up your day. Once I have my workout clothes on I feel obligated to work out.
Get Out of the House
For some people (even with all of the tips above) your home is just too distracting. In that case, getting out of the house can be a great way to get focused. Set up a routine where you spend some dedicated time at a coffee shop or check out one of the many co-working spaces that are popping up across the state and country. Getting out of the house is also a good way to break up your day and create deliberate start/stop times for your work. Work some outside-of-the-house-time into your schedule to create boundaries on projects that you know may suck you in. e.g. “I am going to spend three hours at the coffee shop working on my newsletter content each day until it is done.”
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© Sarah Duran 2022
Find out more about me and my company, Fruition Initiatives, here.
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The Obvious Disclaimers…
This information is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as, and shall not be understood or construed as, professional advice. What you decide to do with this information is up to you and all repercussions are on you.