Working from home? Here are some tips as you face new challenges
Many business owners have recently found themselves working from home, perhaps for the first time in their professional lives. In fact, 90% of Americans are currently subject to stay-at-home orders. At home, these individuals face new challenges. They are forced to grapple with long periods of indoor confinement, find time to educate and entertain their kids, and somehow keep their businesses running.
These challenges also offer some unique opportunities, from spending more time with our families to reevaluating the ways that we work. In this article, we’ll explore some ways to get ahead while working from home - and maintain your sanity.
It’s all about organization
While the scenery may have changed, the formula for being a successful business owner remains the same. It is essential that you stay organized by structuring your days to resemble your typical workday as much as possible. For instance, if you are typically more productive in the mornings, plan to start your day early while working from home.
However, temporary changes in familial responsibilities may make this impractical. It’s important to spend time creating a schedule. Use a planner. Set aside blocks of time each day that will be dedicated solely to work. Do this at the beginning of each week and make changes based on your experiences from the previous week.
Create daily to-do lists to ensure that you are making the best use of your working hours. Knock out the most important items on your list first, in case you get sidetracked during the day.
Make home look like work
Much like scheduling time that will be solely for work, you should designate an area of your home that will be used for work purposes. Many of us already have a space that we use as a home office. If not, set up a desk in a spare bedroom or even the garage. Get a comfortable chair. If you are dealing with limited space, set up a workspace at the dining room table. Throw on your headphones to block out background noise.
Let your family know how important it is that you complete your work as efficiently as possible, so you can spend more quality time with them.
Leave work at work
Perhaps the most challenging part of working from home is unplugging after each day. It starts out innocently enough. Frequently checking your email during non-working hours. Running over your allotted work time by an hour. Staying up late while the kids are asleep, only to be exhausted and unproductive the following day.
Before you know it, you are working 24/7. Your health, relationships, and your sanity suffer. If you find this happening, recommit to sticking to your schedule. Re-examine your to-do lists. If you find you still do not have enough time to complete your work, consider adding extra time to your schedule, rather than working in small intervals throughout the day.
Healthy eating habits and regular exercise will help you maintain a healthy immune system. You’ll also improve your productivity as well as your mental health. Exercise boosts endorphins, making you feel happier and more focused. Daily physical activity keeps your joints from becoming stiff and painful.
If you are having trouble getting started, take some baby steps. Take the dog for a long walk. Get outside with your kids for a bike ride. Get your body moving. Slowly build off your successes by increasing your activity level daily.
One advantage of working from home is that you have access to healthier foods and more time to prepare meals. Plan out your meals. When you can make it to the grocery store, load up on healthy fruits, vegetables, and snacks. Like physical activity, research shows that eating healthy boosts productivity levels.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to reward yourself each week. Grab your favorite pint of ice cream and indulge while watching a movie on a Saturday night.
Succeed at being a teacher and a parent
Not only did the kids potentially start their summer break three months early, but many of us are forced to step into an entirely new role – that of a teacher. Most schools have done a great job of leveraging technology to streamline the learning process. Parents, especially those with younger children, are invariably an indispensable part of their children’s school days. Many of us are responsible for ensuring that our kids are both completing and understanding their assignments.
Finding the time to teach the kids, run your business, and cope with increased household duties can be difficult. When planning your work schedule, set aside time each day for your teaching and household duties. Communicate with your spouse to come up with a routine that accommodates both of your schedules.
Furthermore, monitor your children’s screen time each day. Their virtual schoolwork plus personal usage equals increased time online. A device like Omni can help you set screen time limits while also restricting inappropriate content. It’s important to also encourage your children to get some physical activity. Make it fun and spend time with them outside.
Check in with customers
Be sure to touch base with your customers and see how they’re doing. Most of them are in the same boat as you are and could use some friendly encouragement. Offer up any help you can give, and let them know you’re there for them.
Be on the lookout for scams
Unfortunately, even during a widespread crisis as serious as COVID-19, cybercriminals are more vigilant than ever. Scams come in many different forms. Online threats like viruses, spyware, adware, and ransomware are now as prevalent as ever. Be sure to routinely scan your computer using an advanced antivirus software to detect and remove harmful malware. Avoid disclosing information on suspicious websites or applications.
There has also been a recent explosion of apps dedicated to the COVID-19 epidemic. Some of these apps may be fraudulent. To combat this practice, Avast has launched a new initiative on its mobile threat intelligence platform, apklab.io. We are continually reviewing COVID-related apps to distinguish the genuine ones from those that are fraudulent.
Make the most of this opportunity to reevaluate the way that you work. Most importantly, remain safe both in-person and online.