Today, a practical post from our teammate, Jaime Hlavin. Enjoy ~ John
So much has changed over the past month that I think it’s safe to say the world in which we live right now barely resembles anything we are accustomed to.
And I realize this post may not apply universally since many people are suffering hardship as a result of a job loss. Or you may be an essential worker and are still required to go to your workplace on a daily basis, in the face of fear and anxiety over what it may mean for your health and the health of your family. If those are your circumstances, I am praying for God to sustain you physically, spiritually, and financially.
However, with that said, today we will address the issue a lot of us are facing:
Telecommuting. Remote work. Working from home.
Whatever you call it, a large number of us were suddenly hurled violently into it a result of this global pandemic. Those of you who have been doing this for years, I salute you! During the early days of the extreme social distancing, I was a little out of sorts. My “schedule” looked a lot like this COVID-19 meme. (Please note I wholeheartedly accept responsibility for being in direct violation of last week’s blog post. (Sorry, John)
Then suddenly my kids were home figuring out online school. Combining two adults working from home with school websites crashing regularly, WiFi stretched to the max, and children dramatically lamenting their lots in life was super fun.
There are pros and cons to working from home. For me, here are some of the pros:
- I do not have to deal with Metro Detroit rush hour traffic and therefore gain some hours back into my schedule.
- My mind is sharper because I get extra sleep
- My efficiency rises because it happens during my more naturally productive times of the day instead of forcing myself into a schedule that doesn’t work with my body’s normal ebbs and flows.
- My dog is kenneled for fewer hours.
But then, of course, there are cons:
- I can become easily distracted by what needs to be done around my home. Opening a messy drawer to find a pen results in an hour of cleaning out that drawer, and then the one next to it…and then…well, you get it.
- I’m not forced to focus on the “exterior,” so I tend to ignore it. I may or may not have lost track of when I last washed my hair.
- It becomes difficult to “clock out.” Since work is home, home becomes work. I find my work interfering with my family time and personal time.
- My dog has become extremely spoiled and is going to have a hard time when I go back to the office.
In the month my family has been working remotely, we’ve learned a few things. I hope you have as well. But if not, here are a few tips that we’ve adopted that may help:
Create a Workspace. Having a space designated as your “office” will help things feel more official and boost productivity. Each member of our family has a specific area to do work/school. We give each other space and don’t let our “stuff” clutter up each other’s workspace. At the end of the work day, we clean up our spaces to make it transform it back into “home.” Clearing clutter is shown to help with anxiety and productivity.
Give Yourself Working Hours. This will help with the overflow of work hours into home hours. What will it look for you? My kids and I like to sleep in. So, I allow for a little bit of a later start. Once we begin, we work hard and then break for lunch together. After lunch, we work hard again and then shut everything down by dinnertime. That’s the end of our work day. And we commit to “home time” until work/school starts the next day.
Keep a Routine. This is somewhat tied to “giving yourself work hours” but entails a little bit more. Keep meal times regular. Get “dressed and ready for the day” – even if that means just means brushing your teeth and putting a clean pair of pajamas. Make your bed, throw in the laundry and empty the dishwasher before you get started working. (Before I settle into my work day, I like to do all the things I know will later become distractions). Our church has regular online “things” occurring on specific days (Tuesday afternoons – Junior High life group via GoToMeeting, Wednesday night “family meeting” via Facebook Live, Thursday evening “prayer meetings” via Facebook, etc.) These help us stay in a rhythm and routine as well.
Be Gracious. This is probably the biggest piece of advice I could give. We’re all still figuring this out and often it is changing minute-by-minute. Let’s extend and receive grace. Both to ourselves and those we work and live with. Sometimes my daughter’s Khan Academy videos slow down my WiFi and cause my work video conference to glitch. My colleagues have been gracious. My husband’s very loud phone voice can be distracting. I extend grace.
To quote everyone in the world right now, “These are unprecedented times we’re living in.” And we are all doing the best we can. I would encourage you to continue to do and be the best version of yourself that you can. Your family and colleagues will appreciate it.
Stay safe and wash your hands!
I’m rooting and praying for you!