With the business world moving from office to home, more people are now trying to figure out how to balance work life from home life while being in the same place.
When I first heard that we were moving to an all remote workforce due to the pandemic, I was ecstatic: no more waking up early to make it into work, no more long commute to the office. Now, we just wake up, brush our teeth, make a pot of coffee, and sit down at the computer. Yay to pjs all day!
Then came all the things that I could get done while working from home. I can get my laundry done, what little I have, during my breaks. I can get all my dishes done, or prep dinner for that night during my lunch break. I can go running and get outside during my lunch as well. All these things that I had to do after work and take time out of my day to do, I can now get done during the workday.
But this is the work from home trap, and it’s a slippery slope. I work primarily in the phones together with a small team. Being the one that takes the most phone calls is what I pride myself on. I started to notice that the increase of doing my house chores at home took me out of the phones longer than I thought sometimes. You don’t realize it till you come back to your desk and notice that, crap, I have been on break for ten or fifteen minutes. While it might not seem like much, it adds up.
What could have happened in that ten to fifteen minutes you ask? Might not be a lot of time to some, but when working in a high call industry, that could be three to six calls that you could have taken. And who has to pick up the slack with you gone? Your co-workers. And if there are multiple calls already in the queue, then you are just putting pressure on them more just because you had to move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Now, let's look at the other side of the coin as well. We don’t have to drive into work so we can be at our desk even earlier than before. I wake up every day around five in the morning. When you have dogs that have been in a routine for years, it is hard to break that habit. So, I am up at 5. I feed the girls, make my coffee, maybe watch a little news, but then I find myself at my desk earlier and earlier. Did I get those emails from the day before? How many orders do I have to get to already today? Well, I am already here. Why not take care of those right away so I don’t get to bogged down throughout the day to where I can’t. This is where we can become too focused and now don’t know where our work life ends and home life begins. This can be frustrating at times, especially if your significant other or roommate is also working from home.
“Hey, sweetie, you said you were going to mow the lawn after work.”
“Well, its already 5 and you are supposed to be done at 4.”
This has happened to me more than once. You just get so focused and don’t even see what time it is or what is going on around you sometime.
So how do we fix this and find a balance between work and home while working from home? For me, it was when I moved all my stuff into our home office. I made it my “office workplace.” Now I didn’t go so far as to get in my car and drive around my cul-de-sac, but is designated it my commute. Even if you don’t have a spare room for an office, wherever you work, make it the work spot.
When in here, I am at work. I still take breaks and lunch, but I told myself that during my work hours, I am here to do my job. That is what I got hired to do in the first place. When my day is done, I might stay just a little bit to clean up my emails or small things, but I try not to become as focused as I was. My wife has also helped me with this as well. We remind each other that if we are working past our “scheduled” times, that we give each other a reminder that it's time to be spending time with our family. You can get to those things tomorrow.
We all need a balance between being at work and being at home, even though right now, they are the same place. Find your space, determine your boundaries, and keep to them – mostly, if you can!