Making the Most of Working at Home

Working from home seems like every working persons dream, am I right? Until you actually do it. Then you realize it’s a tad more difficult than you expected.

In the wake of COVID-19 and social distancing, many of us are finding ourselves working remotely, either by choice or by instruction. Some of us may be used to working at home and some of us don’t know how to navigate this new territory.

Over the last year, I’ve had my fair share of working from home days (but they usually also involve a sick toddler). My work has now closed its doors and we are now working remotely but daycare is still open. At first I thought I’d just keep Amelia home with me. However, Mary Poppins (the pseudonym I gave our daycare provider) assured me, nay encouraged me, to keep bringing Amelia because it keeps Amelia’s schedule consistent and Mary Poppins wants to work.

Since I’ll be working at home, I’ve come up with a schedule to make the most of my time. I do this primarily because I am someone who gets distracted by other things. For example, I have a hard time focusing on work if there are dirty dishes in the sink or toys scattered on the floor. Because I know this about myself, I’m implementing the time block system as an effort to be the most productive I can be.

6:45 – 7:45 AM: Morning Routine
This is the hour I get up, get dressed and ready for the day, make coffee and breakfast. I typically try to get Amelia up after I’ve gotten ready, unless she wakes up on her own. Once she’s up, I get her ready and we head out of the door for daycare. Sometimes she’ll want a little something to eat before leaving, but I typically don’t give her anything because she eats breakfast at daycare.
Tip: do not stay in your pajamas all day to work from home! Even if you’re just in sweats or yoga pants, change out of the pajamas. You will feel and be less productive throughout the day if you stay in your pajamas because you’ll feel more inclined to watch Netflix and take naps all day.

7:45 – 8:30 AM: Take Amelia to Daycare
As of right now, daycare is still open. Until Mary Poppins decides to close or is forced to close, Amelia will continue to go to daycare. I wrestled with this decision because I kept thinking, “What’s the point of social distancing if she’s still going to daycare.” However, Mary Poppins said she wanted to work and, most importantly, wants the kids to stay on their schedule. I am all about keeping Amelia on her schedule, so I’m fine with taking her every day.

8:30 – 9 AM: Quick Tidy-Up
When I get home from daycare, I do a quick clean up of the home. This usually includes putting dishes in the dishwasher, picking up toys, putting in a load of laundry, or making the beds. I am someone who cannot start working on actual work if there’s a huge mess I know about and can see. It will distract me to the point that I need to do clean that thing before I can really focus on work.

9 – 12 PM: Work
I try to dedicate this time to getting things done for work. Our office typically opens at 8:30, so waiting until 9 allows my emails and to do list to pile up a little so I actually have enough to do to sustain me through the whole three hours.

12 – 1 PM: Lunch
Time for lunch! I’ll make a quick meal at home and watch a couple YouTube videos or an episode of a TV show on Netflix.

1 – 3 PM: Work
Back to work I go, heigh ho! Again, I try to dedicate this time to getting as much done as possible.

3 – 4:30 PM: Housework
By this time, I’m usually burnt out and starting to get antsy. I’ll use this time to work on something around the house, specifically a decluttering or organizing project. I have a long list of projects to do around the house before baby comes (so soon!) but if I don’t stick to a schedule like this, I’ll spend all day working around the house and not on actual work.

4:30 – 5:30 PM: Pick Up Amelia from Daycare
I give about an hour to pick up Amelia because we usually visit with Mary Poppins and the other parents.

5:30 – 6:30 PM: Dinner
We are going to be shelf cooking like crazy for the foreseeable future (meaning, no eating out), so I usually have dinner planned. I don’t really like picking meals that take a long time to make; easy is the way to go! While we eat, we typically watch a TV show or movie.

6:30 – 8 PM: Relax/Play Time
Bret and I usually hang out on the couch while Amelia plays. All her toys are in the living (her bedroom is strictly for sleeping), so it’s easy to keep tabs on her.

8 – 9 PM: Bath & Bedtime for Amelia
We give Amelia a quick bath (they used to be longer but she has recently decided she doesn’t like baths). Then we dry her hair, read her a book, and send her off to sleep.

9 – 10 PM: Bedtime for Bret & Mary
Bret and I used to go to bed way later than Amelia but we’ve realized we’re just too tired. Sometimes we’ll fall asleep right away, sometimes we’ll watch a movie or TV show.

Now, do I follow this schedule to the minute? No, of course not! And some days these time blocks get switched around, like if I don’t have too much to do for work, I’ll do more things around the house or vice versa. The key is to have some kind of schedule in mind so that your brain is forced to be as productive as possible.

A big part that also helps keep you productive is having a designated work station. Do not pick your bed! I know it’s tempting and the literal dream to work from bed, but trust me, you will not get anything done. Most of us don’t have to luxury of having an extra room or physical space that could constitute a home office, I certainly don’t. Therefore, I would suggest the dining room table or whatever kind of kitchen table you have. Worst case scenario, use the couch. For me, since I am currently 8 months pregnant and very uncomfortable in most places I sit, I am choosing the couch. I refuse to work in bed unless I can’t walk. I have a tote with my laptop, iPad, pens, work documents, and anything else I need to work that I can pack up at the end of each day before getting Amelia and then put out every day after dropping her off. This helps keep everything together and easy to clean up at the end of the day.

Hopefully these tips help you navigate working at home. Up next will be working at home with kids!

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