8 Tips to Surviving Spouse/Family as CoworkersApr 01, 2021
We have been working from home together long before COVID-19 showed up, but 2020 still stretched our relationship in new ways. Managing all of the below will allow room for staying partners while being coworkers rather than feeling like roommates and coworkers only. Don't strive for perfection and feel like all 8 need to happen. Remember that if you can implement 3 out of 8, your spouse as coworker experience will be greatly improved.
1. Have a Dedicated Office Space
We know that spare bedrooms and basements are easier to make dedicated than the dining table or living room, but wherever you work should be dedicated space during dedicated work hours. Help your family "coworkers" know and understand fair boundaries. Just like we would close your door or meet in a conference room at the actual office, we have to help our family know what's work and what's play.
2. Exercise Regularly
There are buckets of health information supporting how good an exercise routine is for our body, brains, and emotions. However, when we are stuck at home, we sit more, and it's easy to get out of habit. This is one thing we can do to have some sense of control, as well as, manage our mental and physical wellbeing.
3. Get in the Zone with Earbuds
Home provides a lot of distractions. Even the smallest noise from our kid coworkers or a laugh from our spouse coworkers can cause us to lose focus and be frustrated. It's not their fault. Most of us are not used to work taking place in the home so throwing in a pair of buds and listening to music or noise can help stave off the "don't you know I'm busy" frustration we feel toward our family.
4. Water Break Reminders
We have natural breaks built in at the office and the only thing that happens in that break is the reason we took a break. At home, we might take a break and get distracted by kids, pets, laundry, ordering groceries, etc. It's too easy to go a full day without consuming enough water. Our brains function on water so if you expect to be focused at work and kind with your family all under the same roof, you need water and breaks...why not do them together. Set an alarm every hour so that you get up, move, and get water.
5. Schedule the End of Your Day
When we bring work into the home it can both feel like we never stop working and we never get anything done. Setting an end to the work day can help prioritize time throughout the day and maintain healthy family relationships after work hours. Some things will naturally blend together, but scheduling time to call it quits helps our brains turn it off and tune it out.
6. Create a Shared Calendar
We recommend this regardless of whether our office is inside or outside the home. Knowing when one or the other of you is in a meeting or working on a project can eliminate a lot of miscommunication, confusion, and frustration. Consider multiple color coded calendars for meal planning, family planning, school, individual work, and shared events.
7. Have a Morning Routine
Our brains crave routine so that we can turn off our brains on the things that don't need thought and focus on the important things. When we eliminate routine, our brains struggle in a sea of choices that overwhelm us. Get up at a similar time, get ready for the day, and plan to quit work at a semi-regular time so that your brain can focus on the important choices for the day.
8. Limit Distractions
Easier said than done...amirite?!?! The other people in our homes are not the only distractions. Household chores, your favorite snack in the fridge, social media, and the neighbor's comings and goings are all distractions we have never had to worry about eliminating from our productivity in the past. Our brains tell us that since we are home it is time for these distractions. Sometimes the distractions don't understand that we are home but also at work. Flex your communication muscles with the people distractions, turn off notifications, and schedule tasks in your calendar for focused time 1 hour at a time.
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