Working from home is not easy. I recently changed positions and in my new role started working from home a couple days a week. There were quite a few things that surprised me. I expected to love the flexibility of being home (which I did and still do), but it was also more challenging than I expected.
In this trying time, I know many of you are not working from home out of choice. Many of you are also trying to juggle childcare, work, and home in ways not typically required in a work from home situation. Frankly, I too am now trying to balance all of these things. However, despite the less than ideal circumstances in which we find ourselves, I hope the few things I have learned about working from home will be useful for you.
- Create a schedule: This is probably the most important thing I did when I first started working from home. Without a schedule, I vacillated between working very long hours because I couldn’t get away from it and struggling to find time to work because something around the house was distracting me. In your schedule, include times for breaks and lunch. Determine what tasks you need to work on each day and for how long. If you are working from home with others in your household, share your schedule with them.
- Find ways to connect with colleagues: In my current position, many of my colleagues work from home a few days a week too. Our schedules do not always overlap, so weeks can go by without us being in the office at the same time. Therefore, we use chat, video conferencing, text messaging, and e-mail to stay in touch. As much as I would like to keep work and home life separate some days, I have recently added the chat system we use to my phone. As I am balancing childcare and work, being able to send a quick message while I am away from my computer has proven tremendously helpful.
- Set goals: Each day set a work goal, a home goal, and a personal goal. If you wish, you can set more than one in each category. What is important though, is that each category has a goal.
- Identify what things you can do well at home: Not everything can be done well outside the office, and under the current circumstances we are all trying to work in new ways with somewhat limited resources. I have found though that naming what I can do well helps me feel accomplished and productive. It also just gives a needed boost.
- Give yourself grace: Not every day of working from home is going to be how you would like it. This is true even in normal times.
These five tips are things I did when I first started working from home a couple of days a week and are things I have kept doing now that I am working from home full-time. I miss my times in the office, and hope to be back there soon. In the meantime, I will continue to find ways to make working from home as enjoyable and easy as possible.
Lauren Hays, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at the University of Central Missouri. Please learn more about Lauren and read her other posts about skills for special librarians; then take a look at Lucidea’s powerful ILS, SydneyEnterprise, used daily by innovative special librarians.
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