“Wow, you have the best job ever, getting to work from home.”
“You’re so lucky. I wish I had that option.”
Those are some of the comments I hear when I mention to others I work from home. Typically, I just nod and say, “Yes, it’s awesome.”
I love working from home because I get to make my own schedule. I can pick up my kids during the day and go to their performances or games. I don’t have to worry about sitters or after-school care.
But anyone who works from home knows that isn’t the whole story.
Sometimes I forget to change my clothes for days. Sometimes I have no breakfast and cold coffee. Sometimes it’s 3:00 p.m. and I’ve forgotten to each lunch, so I eat chips because I’m in the middle of a project.
Working from home comes with surprising challenges that can leave you feeling frazzled or stuck. On particularly difficult days, you may even doubt your own abilities.
To help you overcome some of those tricky situations, today I’m going to share three simple strategies I’ve learned from many years of working from home.
1. Honor what you accomplish each day (and even what you don’t)
I recently watched a TED Talk by Brené Brown about the power of vulnerability.
If you have about 20 minutes to check it out, even if you have before, I encourage you to do so. She is very funny and authentic.
At the end, she talks about how we need to believe “we are enough.” She says when you believe you are enough, we can then become kinder and gentler to ourselves and others.
I have to tell myself that a lot. Some days are not going to be productive; I’m still enough. Some days I’m going to be frustrated; I’m still enough. On other days, I’m going to be on fire; I’m totally awesome and enough!
But some days are going to suck; I’m not going to accomplish anything — I’m going to be sad and feel like a failure …
And you know what? I’m still enough. So are you!
2. Take care of yourself
Sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s easy to have no boundaries and work all the time.
If you are sick, make sure you get enough rest. If you need exercise, fit it in during a break. If you have a few appointments one day that make it difficult to accomplish your typical work duties, just go with it.
Be gentle with yourself and plan around whatever comes up, rather than spending the day beating yourself up.
Trust me, thinking negatively will not get more work done. You’ll probably get less work done.
Try to accept each of your work days for what they are. You can also prioritize your most important tasks and move others to the next day. There is always tomorrow.
3. Find the best ways (for you) to manage your responsibilities
Some people have success with block schedules or creating very defined lists of tasks each day.
Some find they need to be flexible every day, because of meetings or their specific responsibilities.
The key is to find what works for you and do that.
Narrow down your favorite techniques and tools, which could include a calendar, a timer, notebooks, Evernote, etc.
Remember that what works right now might stop working for you in the future — and that’s okay.
If that happens, recognize you need a new system and look for other ways to stay productive.
Over to you …
If you work from home, what challenges have you encountered — and how do you manage them?
Share with us in the comments below.