Hello there! Are you searching for sanity during the Pandemic of 2020?
Blame Coronavirus or TP shortages, or the cleaning out of dry goods on your local grocer’s shelves… but everyone is dealing with anxiety, uncertainty, and the side-effects of mass panic.
As a work-from-home-freelancer, my job isn’t changing all that much, and I’m grateful for that aspect of my certainty. What’s more, I’m viewing it as the perfect time to offer my personal knowledge about work-life-balance when home is your office.
- Set Boundaries
- Schedules Are Amazing
- Have Clear Expectations & Express Them
- Don’t Work In Your Bedroom!
Set boundaries in your home for yourself, for your spouse/partner/roommates, and kids. Maybe even pets, if it applies. For instance, my husband–a new work-at-buddy, is considering talking to his traditional employer about setting an alternative split schedule that would allow me more time to work and chunk up our time while four kids are home from school.
Speaking of kids: I’m having a conversation with my twelve and five year old, who can understand a bit more. The conversation goes: we are a family, and we’re in this together. Find ways you can help, please do what you can, and it’s going to be ok. It isn’t always neat and tidy, but we’re trying to navigate the stormy seas on this quirky ship of misfit pirates.
And pets… every freelancer’s best-friend, right? I love our cats, but they’re no good when it comes to my art studio where I create my commercial art and illustrations. Watercolors, acrylics, wet paint and cats don’t always mix… so I do shut them out when need-be.
Boundaries are your friend. It helps you and others know what, where, and when work and home-life can take place.
Schedules Are Amazing
I’m making a few visual calendars that embrace daily block scheduling because schedules are amazing, really! This helps to visually guide my family as well as myself during these days of unknown territory. It will keep me on track, as this new arrangement will definitely demand that I do even better in managing my productivity.
Create Work & Home Categories: Categories can include things like “Work on Writing” and “Client Calls” or “Managing Social Media.” Home Categories may include “Family Lunch” or “Thirty Minute Snack and Story” and stuff like “Chores & Dinner Prep”
I find a middle-ground of not-too-specific and not-too-broad is the happiest place for my Block Scheduling Labeling.
Schedules Are For Everyone
The idea of chunking out your time and creating a routine is beneficial for everyone, so remember that schedules really are good for everyone. Encourage every member of your household to develop and utilize a schedule. Help your kids create one, let them be involved in the process if possible, and let your schedules align in a way that everyone can include some togetherness in this time of mess. Urge your spouse or partner to also make a schedule and you can look at it together to determine how to maximize productivity for everyone.
Have Clear Expectations & Express Them
This one may seem obvious, but often we have clear expectations but we fail to express them. Often, it’s less about not saying what we need, and more about the fact we don’t think we need to say what we need. There are a lot of layers here and maybe we can peel that onion another time… but for the most part, remember the importance in being clear about what you need (and maybe check out some articles on communication).
It could look like:
- Hey, I have a client call at ten a.m. and I really need it to be quiet then.
- I need to remind you that I have a big deadline on Thursday and I’ve got to prioritize that. I need several hours especially on Tuesday and Wednesday.
- I have a few appointments I need to work around this week, can we look at our schedules and see how we can adjust things to make it work?
And, as a mindful next-step… so many of us forget to express expectations, including our spouses/partners/roommates/etc… So, why not ask them what they might need? Remember to check in and see, and it will prompt open lines of communication from all sides, and everyone is more likely to end up on a better and more productive page.
Don’t Work From Your Bedroom!
I’m realizing people may live in a tiny apartment or studio and not have this option, but that said–do the best you can to create some physical boundaries. My husband, for instance, has his workspace in our bedroom out of necessity (ethernet and security requirements of the IT nature). Some steps he takes, though, are having a desk that faces out the window and away from the bed. The space is contained and as compartmentalized as it can be. And, being the visually driven quirky woman that I am, I have tried to delineate a visual break between the rest of our modern-black-and-gray bedroom and his wood-mid-century-modern workspace.
And my own workspace is in the basement. I have a small area for the kids to play, watch a movie or play piano and guitar. But Mom’s Office essentially starts at the bookshelves and, in the most contained cases, is behind the closed door of my illustration and commercial art studio.
What are your tips or other ideas for navigating the new work from home situations millions are now dealing with? I’d love to hear down in the comments or you can contact me with your anecdotes, ideas, or questions.