The current global situation has led many people to work from home. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that as many as 16 million workers in the United States are now working from home.
It’s not an ideal situation, but when you consider those who are forced to leave their homes to work and those other 40 million US workers who lost their jobs because of the economic effects of the pandemic, people are making the best out of the situation they have.
Unfortunately, telling people to stay indoors and implementing work from home models can take its toll on people. Now that more people are working from home, the work-life balance one would usually get when working in an office has disappeared. The result? Longer working hours, more stressful workdays, and the difficulty of keeping work-related matters within office hours only.
Worry not – here are three ways to help you manage your time when working from home.
Use App and Website Blockers
One of the biggest reasons you might find yourself wasting time is because your 10-minute break to check social media or one of the websites you browse casually for fun turns into a half-hour session. If you can’t actively stop yourself from falling down that rabbit hole over and over again, you need to find tools to help you reduce procrastination. This can be done through app blockers on your smartphone or website blockers for your laptop or computer.
Consider installing apps like Freedom or BreakFree that limit the amount of social media you use in one day. You can also find extensions on Google Chrome that completely block certain sites you choose during your business hours.
Set Up Your Workspace
Having a designated workspace can put you in the right mindset and help you separate your personal home life from your work life. For those who can, set up a private room with a computer, desk, chair, and steady internet connection. Establish rules with your household members that you shouldn’t be disturbed unless absolutely necessary. On a regular workday, you wouldn’t be burdened with the responsibility of cooking, cleaning, or looking after children or pets during office hours, so you shouldn’t have to deal with it while you’re working.
However, it’s understandable that not everyone has the luxury of space in their home to set up their own office. You can get creative in finding ways of setting up your own office space. If working in your bedroom or a spare room is not an option, design your living room in such a way that even just one corner of the room is your designated work spot. If you have kids and other household members, ask them to not make too much noise or disturb you during work hours unless necessary.
Establish Work Boundaries
One of the problems with working from home is that your superiors, colleagues, or even yourself no longer see work boundaries because your home is now also your office. This means some people might think it’s acceptable to send work-related communications or requests outside of working hours – including nights and weekends. In an ordinary work setting, you might have been able to ignore these emails, but now that these emails can follow you home, you might be tempted to answer them. This can set precedence and let others know that it’s OK to contact you around-the-clock.
As much as possible, limit your work-related messages and tasks to your work hours. If you’re using communication programs like Skype or Slack, make your status your office hours so that those sending messages to you outside of your hours can expect when you’ll reply. Avoid installing work-related apps on your personal phone as you may be driven to check on work outside of your hours.
The current situation is already stressful enough, but failing to manage your time and establish work-life boundaries can make your workdays even more stressful. It can be difficult, but by creating a separation between your work and personal life can help you feel at ease and adjust to the new working model.