Funny how both Ron and I have worked at home before, but it’s taken this long to figure out how to work together, and work efficiently.
Since I have been at home for pretty much most, if not all, of our marriage, transitioning to working at home wasn’t a huge step. I mean, I was on the computer multiple times a day anyway, right? Those times just sort of got longer and melded together. Eventually, my routine became this:
get up, stumble to office, turn on computer
go to the bathroom, get tea
sit in front of computer
notice stomach is growling and tea is cold
notice the kids are up
get Ron up because he is up different hours
talk to people I live with and get breakfast
eat lunch in front of computer
And so on… It was really easy to fall into a reactionary routine of being what I referred to as “on call”. Am I up? Yes. Is the computer on? If so, I’m “working”. then I realized this was most of the time.
On my more lucid days, I started paying attention to employees from places like StudioPress and Automattic, saying how they were enjoying their breaks and time off. This coincided with a week of trying to plow through a huge lists of tasks to get caught up, and not doing anything else but that. Seriously. Then the light bulb *finally* struck me:
I can’t work effectively without a decent break.
(Whoa,. Earth shattering, no?) I’d already figured out that I cannot function without a certain amount of sleep. that happened very fast, actually. I’m one of those people that need a good solid eight hours or no amount of anything would be done properly or effectively. I can’t even fake it on little sleep.
Ron and I first noticed this in my habits when I tried to not sew all week. I was miserable. Not just because I really do like sewing that much, but it was the regular mental breaks from work task that really helped me. I really do have issues with focusing on one task for a long period of time, so breaking things up works just dandy for my brain.
We clued in that play time – time to rest, recharge, recoup, and recreate, is essential for productive work time. It’s all related, just like everything else. And your play time or when you take it does not have to look like mine, or be at the same times.
My weekend schedule – and I figured I do need a weekend, that time to focus on my household, the people in it and me outside of work – starts on Friday afternoons and goes to Sunday noon. Yes, I work Sunday. 😀 It’s a GREAT time to focus on those “extras” because there’s not a lot of online distractions like there are on, say, Tuesdays.
Ron has also changed his work time in that he gets up and does *not* turn on the computer first thing. He takes care of himself first, then does some things around the house until lunch time. He works more effectively later in the day, so his work hours are afternoons and evenings. I start on a high note in the morning and go downhill from there. 😀 This way, we both have alone time in the office, and have a joint time.
Not only that, we’ve been forcing ourselves to have a break from work – even if the first few tries either one of us were meandering aimlessly around the house. And now, I can do tiny little breaks throughout the day .When it’s mealtime I stay downstairs. None of this rushing back to the office to check one more thing, just in case. People can wait! And it’s not worth burning my dinner over.
Also realizing I don’t have to handle everything at once is good too. Especially before breakfast. Oh, and breakfast is important. Knowing I have a break coming up where I can forget about work items really does help me work hard, as well as knowing what to shut out. I make my lists, I double-check them and cross check them with my partner to help keep me on track. And when it’s play time, knowing that things are fine or will be fine work-wise helps me to really enjoy what I’m taking my break on. Even if it is laundry.
And! As a perfect example while I was writing this, our internet speed tanked. Before, we both would have sat here refreshing, trying other things, stopping certain programs. Now? We walked away and came back in an hour. The world didn’t end, the connection worked itself out (like it always does) and neither of us were frustrated. Plus we got our daughter’s bedroom painted. Yeah, that’s winning.
Adam W. Warner says
This is great advice Andrea, and some I’ve taken recently myself.
Thanks for sharing, Andrea! My wife and I also work from home, and there’s –let’s say– still room to improve the balance between work- and break-time. So we’ll gladly follow some of your tips! 🙂
Love the photo for this!
I think that it is awesome that you two find the balance and don’t chop each others heads off (or cover each other in paint) with such your work and family lives being so intertwined! And you both seem to work together so well; perhaps you can write about about this one day…Women are from WordPress and Boys are from BuddyPress…I’d buy it!
Jeff Lee says
Just got around to reading this, and I definitely agree. Working from home has made it far too easy to just bury myself in work all the time as my office is only steps away. I’m trying to set boundaries, limitations, and a schedule so I can have a good life as well. Deadlines are deadlines, but it sounds like you guys have figured out a good balance.