In my work as an independent professional, 30% of my working time is spent on the client (delivering services that I cannot deliver remotely), and the remaining 70% is divided between the office (at home) and travelling.
I have been working like this for about 20 years: at first it was only me and my husband and it was easy to organise myself, but then we had our first daughter and, 10 years later, our second one, so organising ourselves became quite difficult. Today we are a team. Yes, we are a very strong team! I say this proudly. Maybe it is only four of us, but in recent years we have learned to work as a team, finding a balance between personal, family and work objectives. Everyone at home knows which the important tasks are and we organise around them. My husband and I spend our working hours trying not to lose focus between volleyball games and going to school; when this is not possible, we have a babysitter that helps us.
Here lays the importance of self-awareness and of knowing others, in this case my husband and my daughters: I identify the moments when I am the most productive and I use them for the most important and demanding activities of the day. Household chores are divided among all of us; no one is excluded.
My Strategy for Working from Home
I have a work schedule: it took me a while to implement it because I used to be a workaholic, but after some time I realised that this had negative consequences for my physical and mental health. This schedule adapts to the needs of my family and it is flexible enough to satisfy my clients’ requests. My areas are organised. Even though I am not a fan of planning and routine, having things arranged at the start of a new week has helped me to work with more serenity and to orient my actions towards my goals. This also allows me to find time for myself, my family and my home.
I always wake up early, have breakfast with my family and then take my girls to school. When I get back home, I have approximately one hour to focus on myself or the house before starting to work. I keep the dress code simple: comfort and a make-up trick set me in the perfect mood for starting my working day, and if I have a video call it is not necessary to get ready in a hurry or to avoid participating in it. For the last 4 years, my office has been located in my house. In the beginning, it was in a corner in my bedroom, but it is important to choose a place that is only for working, a place where we can focus on being productive. I obviously work according to my objectives and I prioritise each of them, but I also take some breaks to concentrate on myself (and not on the house).
Working from Home in Times of Covid-19
Even though I am used to working from home, this situation has changed my work environment precisely because there is only 3 of us at home at the moment: yes, my husband is stuck in Argentina.
There is a silver lining in this situation for the following reasons:
-I am used to working from home
-I am used to working with my family at home and my 16-year-old daughter provides invaluable support to me.
-I do not have concentration problems; I am able to isolate myself even during chaos. That said, what am I doing these days?
-In the morning, my office has become a classroom of the Liceo Classico di Sansepolcro, as me and my youngest daughter (5 years old) decided to set a morning routine. I identify her quiet times and I use them to do those important activities that require my involvement without the participation of others.
– I apply the Pomodoro technique on her, but rest periods are as long as my working periods. I explained that to her and it seems to be working so far.
– I look for activities that will keep her entertained, sitting next to me. When she does not feel like playing, we turn to doing collages, painting, colouring or doing DIY projects… She sits by my side doing these “tasks” while I work on my computer.
-I have meetings in the afternoon, when I can regain possession of my office while my eldest daughter keeps the youngest one distracted. In the morning, I can make phone calls or video calls to those people that know me well and that are aware that my daughter can come at any time to ask me to dress her dolls.
-Obviously, every day is different and we are not always in the mood to deal with these activities in the same way. There are days when I cannot finish what I planned to do. It is not a problem: things reschedule themselves.
This strategy is not the result of a day, but of years of working at home; it is suitable for me and my family and I hope that it will serve as a starting point in the construction of your own personal strategy.