10 tips on how to survive working from home without losing your partner or sanity
Adopting to working from home is not easy for everyone. Although self-isolation keeps us safe, it changes our routine, possibly even creating a lot of obstacles.
Believe it or not, our workplace and our job significantly and positively contribute to our overall wellbeing, including our mental health- Unless you work with toxic people and that is another article.
COVID 19 affected our abilities to go to work, in other word it brought work to the home environment and that is a problem.
Work-home balance can be challenging!
Now, we are not only expected to work and maintain work-related tasks, but we also have to deal and adapt to the changes that “working at home” creates. Home is known to be a place to rest, find peace, clear our minds and separate ourselves from work and its related stress. The new norm of working from home prevents us from separating our work from our home life.
Here are some examples of how the new norm can affect some people:
- Those that enjoy their jobs, tend to work longer hours because they can,
- Those that used their job to escape from home and partner issues, don’t have a place to find peace now,
- Psychologically productivity is associated with environment. Most people are less productive when they work from home due to more distractions at home. It is easy to lose track of work tasks when there are dishes to be washed, children to attend to, a partner to collaborate with so on and so forth.
- Inability to go out to the workplace affects daily structure. Many people do not enough self-discipline to create a new structure, and therefore they can’t focus or get things done.
- There is no supervision or opportunity for feedback.
- There no support from co-workers
Good news is that as human beings we are capable of adapting to new norms and now is the best time to put that skill in practice.
Here are some tips on how to create a less stressful workplace at home.
- Create a Home office: and no it does not mean a separate fancy office at home. Designating a specific place for work at home does the job: it can a separate room or a desk.The brain needs to create new associations. Having a designated place to work helps the brain associate work with that area. So brain goes on working mode when you are at the place, and is also able to remove itself from working mode to home mode when you live that area.
- Have reasonable expectations, understand that working from home is different from working at your usual workplace. You might need to redefine your work hours, productivity measures and more. Do not get disappointed if workload and progress are different from your pre-COVID. Adjust your expectation from yourself and the people around you.
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate: I cannot emphasize more about how much communication matters in all aspects of life. When you are working from home, you want to make sure you communicate your needs with others who share your space, with your boss, and with your partner. Let others know your work hours, your availability for them, what they should or should not do to support you while you are working from home.
- Divide responsibilities, and roles with others at home: Whether you are a parent or a partner, make sure responsibilities and role are defined and communicated. Just because everyone is home, it does not mean everyone is going to have equal role and responsibilities toward children, chores, outings, etc. Talk to your partner about who is responsible for what and what plan B is if one falls behind or needs help with their tasks. Partners do not necessarily have to have 50/50 when it comes to responsibilities.Tasks division work well when it is based on one’s ability and strength. One of you might be better at helping children with homework and the other one great at shopping. Plan based on strengths and experiences rather than equal shares.
- Make time for and respect each other’s “me” time:Every human being needs some “me” time. Create an environment in which everyone at home has some me-time; to enjoy a hobby, rest, reflect or just have a downtime. Respect all family members’ me time.
- Keep a consistent routine as much as possible: Human brain likes routine and structure. Routine helps the brain make less decisions and be more productive. Have a daily family schedule to wake up, meal times, rest times, work hours, family time, and leisure time.
- Be on top of your self-care practices: You are the most important asset to your wellbeing and your self-care impacts you and your family.Keep some of your pre-COVID rituals and self-care. If you used to shower daily in the morning before you left the house, keep doing it. Do change your clothes for your work hours. Make sure to plan short breaks during your work hours. Eat healthy food. Get enough sleep.
- Master new stress management skills:A number of stress management skills that used to help pre-COVID are not available to use anymore. People do not have access to gyms and parks. Socializing with our support circle and friends is not the same anymore. Bars, coffee shops, restaurants and even movie theaters where we could release stress and remove ourselves from stressors are not accessible at the time being.
So if any of these used to be your stress relief strategies you are in trouble. So, once again it is time for human creativity and flexibility. Here are some options:
- Meet with your friends on Zoom or any other platform where you can see them and socialize with them.
- Go for a run, every day. Physical outdoor activity is the best remedy for stress.
- Eat more of brain food such as nuts, fish and greens.
- Improve your relationships at home. We are stuck with our family members, we might as well improve our relationship with them.
- Make time for reflections. Try to have more empathy for a partner who is going through the same struggles as you while working at home. Understand the hardship your children have as they have to study at home and not see their school friends. Express your empathy too.
- Stay positive: Feelings are contagious. If you keep up a positive mood, they others will mirror your behavior. Try to stay positive, smile more often, wear happy colors, make simple changes to your home decor, and add some plants to the room. All these are proven to uplift mood.
- Make time to connect with the universe or its creator: If you have spiritual family, make time for family rituals. Pray together on a daily basis!
Last but not least, keep in mind: this shall pass, but how we deal with situations like this defines who we are and what we are capable of.