Many remote workers consider the ability to move more smoothly between professional and private obligations a chief benefit of remote work. The danger with tasks from both spheres under one roof, however, is that they’ll compete for attention.
That sink full of dishes calling from the kitchen can interfere with concentrating on budget numbers. Or the temptation to log back into work for “just a minute” as you pass your home office on the way to the washing machine may end up throwing off your household to-do list for an hour.
Successful virtual employees find ways for household and work duties to coexist peacefully. Consider the following ideas when developing your own rhythm.
Make use of “commute” time.
The average American spends 26.1 minutes on a one-way commute to the office. Why not repurpose this time that would have been spent in traffic or on public transit for getting the house in order—without any disruption to your work schedule?
Set a timer for 25 minutes (you can use the extra 1.1 minutes to “travel” to your desk). Mop, dust, cut coupons, and the like to your heart’s desire during that period. But when the buzzer rings, you need to settle into your home office. Repeat the process again at workday’s end.
Take productive breaks.
“I tend to use quick household chores as a way to take a break from work,” says Lindsay Wissman, senior copywriter for The Content Factory. “When I worked in an office and was stuck on a problem, or just needed to get up from my desk for a few minutes, I could take a walk around the building or go across the street to the coffee shop to get a refill. But at home, there’s really nowhere to go. So instead of taking a lap around the building, I put some laundry in the washing machine, fold some clothes, or load the dishwasher.”
Take note of the keyword “quick.” Wissman points out that she’s not tackling major chores but rather doing things that can be accomplished in a few minutes. “This practice gets me up from my desk and helps me check a couple things off my personal to-do list without distracting me from work for too long.”
Develop a blended to-do list.
Why be pigeon-holed by traditional expectations? If your flexible arrangement allows control over work hours, create a schedule that makes the most of all times of the day in a manner that suits you best.
“I primarily identify as a stay-at-home mom, so I appreciate how working from home fits into my daily life,” says Emily Perschbacher of First Quarter Finance. “I treat my work like another task on my to-do list: take my daughter to school, put a load of laundry in, work for a few hours, pick my daughter up, play at the park, etc. I’ve also found that the most productive times for me to work at home are an hour before everyone is up for the day and the few hours after my daughter is in bed and the dishes are done.”
Finally, don’t discount the value of “out of sight, out of mind.” Shut the playroom door to avoid taking images of the mess there along with you to work. Likewise, close your home office door when you’re done for the night to drown out the sounds of assignments calling your name.While it may take some more finessing, remote workers can learn to balance work and home responsibilities.
Finding your balance
If you’re interested in finding a remote job that affords you this type of flexibility, check out FlexJobs’ listings.
We also have several resources for maximizing productivity. Learn about staying productive as a flexible worker, find home office tips, and get advice on work-life balance.
Photo Credit: bigstockphoto.com
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