My wife and I have been working from home for nearly 7 years now and have a few learnings to share. For the first time nearly every white collar worker in the world seems to be working from home and spending daytime with their children and family members. Courtesy: COVID19. This can drive people crazy after the first few days of novelty. Work from Home is only productive when there is no one else in the house and no one knows you are home including coworkers, neighbours and delivery-men.
Work very early in the morning or late at night to be most productive
This is the only time when no one will disturb you — including your child, spouse, delivery-men, house-help or neighbours. It will be quiet and you can get a lot of work done if you simply get up two hours early or work two hours after everyone in the house is asleep. Frankly 4 hours of solid uninterrupted work from home is equal to a full day’s work at the office with commutes, meetings, chit-chat, coffee breaks, internet browsing etc Best part is you can spend the rest of the day without stress knowing you’ve already put in the work.
Don’t reply to Work Emails, Phone calls, Chats etc immediately
It might be tempting in these days of Slack, WhatsApp and Email notifications to reply as soon as possible to show that you are working. But these are time-sinks that prevent you from spending your peak energy on your own work output. Handle emails in the afternoon when you are low-energy or bored. Check chats once an hour or two. Schedule calls when you are doing some prep-work in the kitchen. Same with personal calls from friends and family.. don’t take them during your work hours. If anyone tries to guilt you about it.. tell them you are working.
Work in Shifts… handle child & house during your spouse’s work hours and vice versa
This way both husband and wife get to work uninterrupted. If someone rings the bell or food needs cooking/prepping then it is the person not working’s responsibility to handle it. Bonus is getting to spend time with your child while taking a break from work or getting some food prepared before anyone gets irritable from hunger
Split the household chores and stick it on the fridge
Check out this comic strip that explains what happens when only one person is doing all the chores in the house. It is actually a feminist comic but even modern feminist women are guilty of not doing their share of chores as they seek to avoid the “stuck in the kitchen” trap that befell their mothers and grandmothers. Best to split the chores ahead of time and stick a note listing it out on the fridge. For example: Sundays I’m responsible for our toddler from morning till breakfast time – playing, feeding, bathing and cooking breakfast, then my wife takes over our son and cooks lunch and feeds him, then I take over after his afternoon nap until evening playtime, wife feeds him dinner while I bathe him then I put him to bed at night while wife loads the dishwasher and orders food online. Work happens in between chores.
If something needs fixing around the house don’t jump to fix it during office hours.
Say the bathroom tap is leaking or dishes are piled up near the sink. Don’t immediately jump in and waste your time fixing it. These are time sinks. There is never a shortage of things that need to be fixed around the house. You fix one and there is one more you’ll notice. you have to be very protective of your limited time and energy. Reserve your energy for work and family. Fix house stuff on the weekends only or during downtime from work.
Arguments are inevitable. Argue -> Resolve -> Forgive
Working in separate offices used to provide a buffer whereby friction points were separated by time and space. But now with both of you working from home there is more chance of friction sparking a couple’s argument perhaps in front of your child. Maybe your work call went longer than expected at the exact time your toddler decides to cry uncontrollably and your spouse needed your help. Maybe you snapped at your spouse because they left the kitchen dirty.
No couple who deals openly with their issues go long without arguing. I have no solution except to spend time daily as a couple without work, gadgets and other family/neighbours intruding. Talk about anything other than work or negative news. If you want to share any specific advice that worked for you please do so in the comments below.
Don’t check the news or social media or your investment portfolio during work hours
We tend to do things we don’t do at the office like opening news portals when we are working from home. ideally don’t read the news at all during the day.
Here’s a good article to cure your news-craziness : How to Stop Freaking Out About the Coronavirus But Stay Safe
Exercise or Meditation is your alone time
All this close proximity to family might leave you with no time for yourself to gather your thoughts. Exercise is your solution. You can walk outside your house/terrace or up and down the stairs or pick up a yoga/cardio video from youtube to do in your room. Meditation can really relieve your stress in these stressful times. Here’s a simple way to start meditating daily.
Take a 20 to 30-minute nap in the afternoon to feel fresh for the evening
I take a nap a little after lunch. Naps are proven to refresh you in the same way as night-time sleep. Problems are solved faster and mood is less irritable after a nap
Spend evenings together as family without T.V or phones
Now that you don’t have commute to worry about, you can spend the evening commute time instead with family. Ideally from evening to dinner time without any gadgets like T.V or phone. This way you don’t feel like you’ve been working all day. You need the break and fresh air.