Work from Home Tips – Keeping You Sane During Quarantine
By: Danielle Britt Mays
I have been a “work from home” (hereinafter referred to as WFH) mom/attorney since a little before I gave birth to my son, who is 2 years old. Over a year in, I feel uniquely equipped for this crisis. Here are some tidbits I’ve discovered over the past 2 years that may make having a dual role of working mom a little easier (Note – I did not say “easy” because the first step is accepting that this isn’t easy):
· Accept that this isn’t easy — your mindset is everything. If you are expecting perfection from yourself as a parent and a working person during this time, you are setting yourself up for feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. Repeat after me: it is ok to allow your kid more screen time during the quarantine.
· Time block — time blocking your day is essential for getting a lot done in a little bit of time. My day is naturally time blocked because my son still takes a nap. During his nap, I get as much of my important tasks done as possible. This is when I try to do the dishes, a load of laundry, and do my most important work tasks. This is also when I exercise (time permitting), unless I go for a walk with my kid when he is awake. Shorter tasks like responding to quick emails and even informal phone calls can be done while he is awake.You can also work (or work out) in chunks before the kids wake up, after they go to bed, or you can take “shifts” with another adult in your home (if you are lucky enough to have someone on hand). Try to rate your tasks in order of importance each day and make it your goal to cross off the top 3 tasks. That way, if the rest of the day gets crazy, you at least got your top 3 tasks accomplished.
· Create a workspace — not everyone has their own office, but if you are working from home, you still need a “work space” that will put you in work mode and lets everyone else in the household know that you are working and should not be disturbed absent an emergency. This is about creating boundaries. My husband’s WFH office is currently the dining room table, so any flat surface really works. If you have a home office, now is the time to try to spruce it up to make it a place that allows your to focus on work.
Clean it and organize it. Hang things on the wall that make you happy. Create a door tag like this if your family can’t respect your boundaries. It may not work, but at least it will give you something to point to and a rule to reinforce.
· Technology is your friend — you don’t need a lot of technology to make a home office as functional as your office office. My go-to work from home items for a law practice are: laptop; second screen for laptop; ScanSnap for scanning documents (trust me); wireless printer; blue tooth mouse and key board. And good WiFi. It may be time to do an upgrade, but it is so worth it!
· Self-care – This should be at the top of the list. You absolutely cannot take care of others without first caring for yourself. Self-care doesn’t have to last a whole day or for hours. It’s about doing something that you want to do every day. I time block my self-care and break it into 15 minute to 1 hour chunks. Today, I painted my nails a sparkly pink with my new gel nail dryer because my nails were weak and breaking from having to rip off the SNS. Yesterday, I watched the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills while eating lunch. The day before, I made a cream cheese pound cake from scratch. By the way, these were all things I WANTED to do so I did them, not things I had to check off my list. You should figure out what makes your soul happy and do that once a day for at least 15 minutes (even if it means sitting in your bed all afternoon/night and bingeing snacks and tv… trust me, I have done that many times that my soul needed it, and it is one of my favorite forms of self-care).
Do you like the WFH life? I do! That’s one of the reasons I started converting my law practice to a remote model over a year ago, so that I can serve clients from anywhere (including my home!)