Don't lose momentum!
Working from home is top of mind right now for many people. It’s a privilege, really. An opportunity for many. A dream for some. But those who have done it in some capacity for any length of time understand that working from home also presents many challenges.
Just the possibility of bringing my work home initially swarmed my mind with more questions than answers. Maybe for some, it starts out exciting, but grows boring over time as perspective is lost and momentum wanes. And this isn't just for employees forced to transition due to unforeseen circumstances. This can be the case for those starting a home business or a side hustle, those on medical or maternity leave, those in between jobs, or stay-at-home/homeschooling parents. Just changing the location of your work can be more than enough to make everything look and feel completely different, to say nothing of the additional disruptions, stressors, and complications that working from home presents.
But you don’t want to lose momentum, right? In order to keep it going, a major shift needs to take place in most of us, regardless of whether we work from home or not, and that shift is internal. It’s amazing how many disciplines only existed in our lives because we were tied to a daily commute at a certain time in order to make money or make a class. But your life needs discipline, energy, and the natural flow of routines that matter to you regardless of whether you work a traditional 9-5 job outside the home.
When I was on medical leave for three months after my accident in 2018, I wasn’t able to do much physically. And yet, my time at home turned out to be profitable, restful, and purposeful. I knew that God was right there with me and when I chose to submit to whatever He wanted to teach me in that season, I found that I learned a lot and didn’t succumb as frequently to frustration or apathy.
In light of the amount of people working from home these days, I wanted to share some of the things I have learned from training for and working through similar situations. Again, this can apply to lots of different circumstances, such as being in between jobs after college or being home with your kids.
Whatever your current work role, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to keep momentum moving.
1. Develop routines. Again, discipline is not reserved for 9-5 employees or full-time students. If you’re working at home, you still need a morning and nighttime routine (and any other routine you’d like) that fits your lifestyle and leaves time for the things you want to accomplish. If you need a run around the block before coffee to perk you up in the morning, make time for that before you start your day. Even if your morning routine isn’t very long or flashy, make it yours. Start the day the way you want to. Don’t just roll out of bed and start working. Pay attention to what kind of sleep you need in order to wake up with enough time.
2. Every day should include some kind of physical exertion, some kind of accomplishment outside of work. These can be as simple or complex as you want, but it’s easy to lose sight of exercise and mental stimulation when you’re working from home. Don’t let that slip away.
3. Keep variety in your days. Maybe have a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule that differs from the other days. Leave the weekends for spontaneity. This will keep you from falling into a rut so easily.
4. Get dressed (& stay on top of hygiene). Seriously, you will stay ahead of the dreaded emotional slumps if you simply purpose to put actual clothes on every day, whether you are leaving the house or not (which you should; more on that later.) No need to maintain perfect hair and nails, but make sure you're keeping up with what your body needs. You will look and feel better, and your family will be happier too.
5. Stay on top of housework. Try to start on chores when they’re small and easier to stay ahead of. When you notice something that needs cleaning and you have time to tackle it, do it! Don’t wait until it gets out of hand. (Obviously, keep a work/life balance; don’t clean during your work hours, but on your own time, don’t let your living space get out of hand just because it’s also your work space.)
6. Be consistent with the schedules you set. If you promised yourself that you’ll be in bed by 10PM every weeknight, stick with that, even if you don’t have an early job waiting for you the next day. Your decision should be enough.
7. Get “the main thing” done as soon as possible. Prioritize what needs to get done each day and tackle the important items first so that they don’t get shuffled aside. If there's something you know you're likely to procrastinate on, start with that.
8. Communicate boundaries to others. Whether you homeschool or work from home or run a business out of your house, it’s easy for people to assume that you are readily available because you are “home”. This can be especially difficult if you live with other adults who are also home but may not be working. Decide on your “busy hours” and communicate your needs with anyone who might need to know. (For people with young kids who aren't in school or daycare, consider getting a nanny or a paid helper to be with them if you need to get hours of straight work done.)
9. Purpose to “get out” as much as possible. After work, find ways to connect with people outside your home. These can be really simple outings, but don’t stay inside all the time just because you work from home.
10. Have something that you look forward to every week. Occasionally, plan a small change to your schedule, like a picnic in the yard or a movie night or a craft day. These might be really simple things, but don't let that discourage you. Live to the fullest any opportunity you have. Short-term plans add excitement to life and those little enjoyments go a long way when you work from home.
11. Practice hobbies (and include other people sometimes). Find ways to transition from work and home life and work on something that brings you enjoyment. See if there is a way to connect with others while doing this.
12. Stay diligent with your budget. Just because you might not be bringing home the main paycheck or a traditional paycheck doesn’t mean you’re exempt from awareness. Pay attention to what bills need to be paid and what needs to be saved, spent, and given away. You should be a part of this process, even if you don’t have a conventional job.
13. Stay current with job searches, skills, resumes etc. Keep a running list of your skills and certifications, and try to add more. The internet is an amazing resource for learning new things without having to take a class. Stay informed about the market you’re interested in. Sharpen your interview skills, freshen your resume every couple of months, and practice job searching, just to know what’s out there. You never know when an opportunity will open up and you’ll want to be ready. When (probably not if) you rejoin the job market, a new boss will want to see that you didn’t lose momentum during your time at home and that you were proactive and creative during that time. (This tip is obviously geared more towards people who are at home temporarily while job searching or raising children.)
14. Finally, pay attention to what you’ve learned and accomplished during this season. Maybe even keep a record of it all. You’d be surprised at how powerful it is to look back on. Plus, awareness and application is very healthy and helpful to your daily life. The person who is actively looking to learn will gain a lot from every experience.
Remember, no matter what season you are in, things like variety, discipline, schedules, good work ethics, hygiene, self-respect, spontaneity, creativity, and family values should always exist in your life. These things are not reserved only for a traditional job lifestyle. Keep what is important to you. Things will shift and change, so stay open and flexible. But purpose to order your life to reflect your priorities. Remember what makes you and your family unique and work to maintain that culture daily. This will remind you that what you do is not as important as who and Whose you are. And when the joy of the Lord kindles your spirit, the flame will never burn out😊 (Nehemiah 8:10).
Blessings, everyone! Stay safe! Healing, health, and provision to all, in Jesus' Name!