By: Janine Danks Fox, Esq.
In these unprecedented times, change can be not only scary, but overwhelming. Many of you have likely never been mandated to work from home and may feel that you will only be marginally productive, disorganized and distracted. This is particularly the case if you are juggling working from home with school age children also engaging in remote learning.
Don’t fret, as all is not lost! I am living proof that working remotely can be even more productive than working in your traditional office space. When I became pregnant with my first child in 2008, I was fortunate enough for Szaferman Lakind to permit me to work from home several days a week. I have been successfully working from home a few days per week for the past 11 years.
Here are my “tips of the trade” for navigating the work-from-home challenges to ensure optimal productivity.
- Create a dedicated space to work on your home computer or laptop. If possible, set up an area where you can close a door to avoid distracting noises or activity. If this is not possible, I suggest earphones with music or earplugs. If you don’t have a home office or desk, set up a folding table in an isolated area of your residence. Avoid setting up your office in your bedroom, as you will be tempted to nap. On the other hand, if you feel you are more productive overall by taking a 15-minute power nap in the early afternoon, do that; you’ll likely come back refreshed and doubly productive. The main priority is to remain disciplined.
- Stick to a daily routine as though you were going to your traditional office. (i.e. Set your alarm, workout, have breakfast, shower and dress for the day.)
- Use multitasking to your advantage. For example, prior to starting work in your dedicated space, load and run the dishwasher, throw in a load of laundry, etc.
- Take a lunch break. If you don’t traditionally work out in the morning, lunchtime can be an alternative time to get some fresh air or do an indoor workout to recharge. Use this time to also unload the dishwasher, throw your clothes in the dryer and start a new load of laundry. Prep dinner in a crock pot or instant pot.
- To avoid leaving your dedicated workspace, make sure to bring in high protein snacks and water to avoid having to leave the space to go to the kitchen. If you have a mini Keurig, set that up in your office space or make a carafe of coffee, tea or hot chocolate before commencing work.
- Avoid working with the T.V. on, and turn off news alerts while working. These are textbook distractions that will lead to surfing the net.
- Avoid online shopping and social media interactions, other than for marketing/business purposes.
- Avoid taking personal calls during working hours.
- If you are on a conference call where you are primarily listening, mute the call or use headphones, so as to avoid background noise such as barking dogs and children playing.
- Don’t procrastinate. It is easy to take a more relaxed approach when no one is watching you, so don’t be tempted to slack off. In the end, your lack of productivity over time will become apparent to your colleagues. Remember that you are gaining significant time by no longer commuting. Use that time to your advantage!
- Make a daily list of items you want to accomplish and try not to stray from the list. If you have several matters or projects you are working on, try to focus on one matter at a time to maximize productivity.
- If your children are home and you need to be involved with assisting them with online learning, establish a routine for them, as well, similar to the examples in paragraph 2 above. Depending on your child’s age, they will need varying degrees of assistance. To the extent possible, set your children up prior to commencing your own work, by establishing them in their own work spaces. If your children will need more assistance due to their age, then to the extent practical delay starting your work until they are settled and engaged. If you aren’t required to engage in phone/video conferences, you may have to work early in the morning, at night or when your children finish their work, to avoid ongoing distractions. Once they have finished their work, set them up with an activity that will provide you with a significant block of uninterrupted time (i.e. a movie, puzzle, craft, game, chores, playing with household pet, etc.).
- Keep a daily journal of three things you are thankful for each day. Be thankful for the simple things in life, and enjoy your family time.
Above all, remain positive, get plenty of rest, exercise and eat a well-balanced diet to boost your immune system.
Although we will all face daily challenges adjusting to our new temporary normal, we will eventually come out on the other side of this unprecedented situation. Make sure to keep in virtual contact with loved ones and colleagues to keep your spirits up. At Szaferman Lakind we are not only a team but a family. Although present circumstances have mandated that we alter our normal in-office business operations, our clients continue to be our top priority. In this mobile world we are only a call or email away from continuing to address all of our clients’ legal needs as they arise.
Wishing everyone health, safety and calm during this challenging time.
Janine Danks Fox is a family law attorney and partner in the Lawrenceville, NJ law firm of Szaferman, Lakind. He can be reached at 609-275-0400 or via email at email@example.com.