Home Office Sanity Checklist
There are many folks who have been working from home for years.  When COVID-19 first appeared, there was a huge wave of people transitioning from a workplace environment to a home office.  Research as indicated many will continue to work at home with perhaps weekly or monthly trips to the head office, but most activity will be carried on over services such as zoom and skype.  
The challenges of working from home can be overwhelming.   It is difficult to put the blinders on and focus on only work-related activity when there is laundry to do, meals to prepare, housework, dogs to walk and kids to look after.
Overcoming these challenges can be done by strategically implementing some of these tips.  Be sure you sit your family members down and communicate clearly what is expected, when you are at work vs when you are available.  Clear communication will solve many of the issues before they even transpire.  Here’s a checklist of proven tips I have used and I’m sure they will help you too! 
STEP 1:  Remove Distractions
  • For those of us who have the habit of turning on our cellphones and going down the rabbit hole of social media, limit your time.  Better yet, log out of your social media accounts so they won’t be easily accessible.  Assign your ‘social media time’ to your calendar at the end of the day for 1 hour to connect with friends.
  • Set Boundaries and stick to them.  On your home office door place a sign of the time you are in your office.  “IN:  9am – 12pm   LUNCH 12-1  OUT:  1pm-3pm  IN: 4pm-6pm”    When you are “OUT” this means you are available, or you can take the time to put in some laundry, vacuum the house, or prep dinner.  LUNCH is meant to be just that – to eat lunch.  Sure, you can walk the dog at the same time, but be sure to eat your lunch.    Set a timer on your phone to remind you of the times you are IN vs LUNCH vs OUT.
  • SCHEDULE:  Schedule ALL your activity in your calendar.  Yes, ALL of it: Breakfast, exercise, lunch, dinner, work, 15-minute breaks morning and afternoon within the ‘work’ period, morning meditation, work related activity, time with friends and family.  If it isn’t in the calendar, it doesn’t get done.  Set the alarm on your phone and label each alarm setting to help get you into the disciplined habit of time management. 
  • RESIST TEMPTATION: Visualize yourself in your office.  Would you skip out to grab a few bottles of wine for your weekend dinner party during work time?  Likely not.  
STEP 2:  Designated Office
  • Working from home does require a dedicated office space – preferably a room with a door!  Why?  When you walk into that room your mind automatically shifts to a focus of work.  It’s a Mindshift.  Just like when you walk into your kitchen or your living room.  Your mind will automatically shift to the energy in the room.  HINT:  if you meditate in the morning this area too should have it’s one designated area – not in the corner of your office.  It truly makes a difference in how your mind works.
  • Makeshift Office: Not everyone has a private room to turn into an office.  Try erecting a room divider or hanging a curtain to make a makeshift boundary.  Noise cancelling headphones help to create a feeling of a separate workplace.  Never work from the couch or your bed.  Why?  Your brain needs to be set on a productive track by working in a designated work area.  
  • Tidiness Counts:  A dozen mugs on your desk, piled up paper and files does not make for a clutter-free mind.  Nor does it contribute to the efficacy of your work effort.  If you are a morning person and you arrive at your desk only to spend the next 30 minutes on clean up, you will be setting yourself up for an unproductive day.  TIP:  the only files you should have active on your desk is the one you are presently working on.  No other…the rest are in a file cabinet.  Once one activity is completed, then file it away and retrieve the next file or activity.  BLOCK 30 minutes off in your calendar at the end of each day for a daily review, clean up and to create your TO DO LIST for the next day.
  • Need a little clarity?  I found this helps keep things clear so I can focus. 
  • Know when the day is over.  Work-life balance is key.  Communicate to your co-workers, friends, and family that the boundary of your work hours is to be respected.  When the workday is over (reminder – see the sign on your office door or curtain), “leave” the office just like you would if you were going into the corporate office.  Walk away from the computer and your cell phone.  (Hint:  a designated cell phone for work purposes is key).  Be firm that you will not be answering emails or phone calls after hours.  Unless you are a doctor or someone in a profession who saves lives, nothing you do is that urgent!  Sorry…but think about it…If you work flex hours it may be tempting to work into the wee hours of the morning, but do not do that.  Quality sleep is important for you to be healthy, have energy and be focused to meet the demands of each day.
  • Practice Self-Care:  Isolation is the pits.  It can and does have a negative effect on collaborative efforts as well as your emotional well-being.  To prevent this, have regular check-ins with your co-workers.  Example:  Monday morning, check in with a co-worker – What’s on your to do list this week?  Ask one another where each needs a little help, brainstorm, and support one another.  Friday morning – check in again and ask what each has accomplished?  Did you get done what you intended to do?  If not, what can be done to help one another? Research has proven that working with an accountability partner generates success and increases motivation to get things done.   TIP:  Creating a flyer or document?  Create a shared document so you can invite selected co-workers to help create it and track your progress as a working unit.
  • Even FIDO wants balance.  While she/he will love having you home, they still love their walks.  One way to set the mindset daily for the preparation of work (and get exercise!) is to take FIDO for a walk around the block before you start to work.  Visualize yourself walking to work.  Your body and mind start to get activated toward a clear and focused mind.  When you get to the ‘home-office’ you are ready to work.  Same goes for the end of the day.  You usually walked or drove to work, now ‘walk away from work’ with FIDO. This creates a habit of preparing the mind for work and then preparing the mind to wind-down and great your family or prepare for your personal evening time after work.  BONUS:  Your dog is happier, doesn’t chew the furniture or rip up the pillows, and you get exercise in the process.  Enjoyable self-care! 
While the challenges of working from home can be daunting, there are many more helpful habits you can form to improve your productivity and overall well-being while working from home.  
I’ll be sharing more self-help-work-at-home strategies so stay tuned!  

 If you enjoyed this article, please comment below.   

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