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Firm Management

3 Quick Tips to Make WFH Successful

Over the 20+ years I’ve worked from home, I have collected many techniques that might help you make it through this unusual time and even position you for a future of full time or at least part time working from home.

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If you are new to the art of working from home (WFH), you’ve probably discovered that what might have sounded easy and even fun at the start is more of a challenge as time goes on. You might be dealing with workspace issues, life distractions, the needs of other family members, lack of human contact with colleagues, health concerns, and more – all of this can produce frustration and stress for you, your family, your supervisors, and your clients.

Over the 20+ years I’ve worked from home, I have collected many techniques that might help you make it through this unusual time and even position you for a future of full time or at least part time working from home. For example:

Children: I spent many years working from home, intentionally, because I wanted to be there with my children in the summer and during the school year when they came home from school. The first thing I did when I made the move to WFH was to find two small desks, one for each child. These were the little school desks with the seat built in. I found them at garage sales, and I set them up right next to my own desk (which, at the time, was a former kitchen table set up in the corner of our living room).

When the kids were in school, they would do their homework at their desks, right next to me. When they weren’t busy with their assignments and wanted television or music, I found that noise-canceling headphones allowed them to still be with me while I was trying to concentrate. My tip: Find ways to incorporate your family into your life rather than trying to shut them out.

Workspace: Before working from the living room, I originally set up shop in our laundry room where that old kitchen table was being used for sorting and folding clothes. Once I was certain that working from home was going to be my future, I invested in a desk and set it up in the dining room, which I eventually took over completely and turned into my office. I used bins on the bottom shelves of bookcases to store office supplies. The general idea is that it’s okay to turn a room into a multi-purpose area.

For tax purposes, if you plan on claiming a home office deduction, keep in mind that you need a dedicated place (it doesn’t have to be a full room, but it does need to be a measurable area) that you use exclusively for your work. My tip: Be creative and find an area of your house or apartment where you can set up a permanent work area.

Distractions: It’s SO EASY to add household chores to your workday once you’re actually working from home. After all, what’s wrong with getting up from your desk to start dinner, throw in a load of laundry, water the garden, feed the pets? You already know the answer to that. Starting dinner means checking with the family on mealtime and food requests, defrosting, measuring, collecting ingredients, pre-cooking, maybe with a glass of wine. Starting a load of laundry means emptying the dryer and folding and putting away clothes.

Watering the garden means a bit of weeding or pruning, chatting with the neighbors (from a safe social distance, of course). Feeding the pets means following up with play time or maybe a walk with the dog. You get the picture – one thing leads to another and before you know it, you’ve set aside work for life. My tip: Create your new WFH schedule to include breaks for the personal stuff. If you know you have specifically 15 or 30 minutes to your tasks, it’s much easier to watch the clock and then get back to work when the time is up.

I hope you find these little tips helpful. I understand that work from home can be difficult and challenging. So many people are doing it now, be sure to reach out to friends and share advice for best practices!

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