March 16, 2020

Favorite Working From Home Tips & Tricks

I was thinking of everyone who is now facing a totally different work schedule than normal and thought I could share some favorite tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years! I know this is such a minor thing in light of everything we’re facing…but having a positive work environment makes a huge emotional/mental difference (even if it is from your home!)! I know my work situation is different than most, but hopefully some of these can be applied to you, too!

Tip #1: Pre-plan your work day

The night before, make sure to sit down and block out when you’ll work the next day. This is a crucial step not worth missing no matter what season of life you’re in! Schedule in work times, snack/lunch times, and break times — just like you would have if you were at a normal office. This will help you stay productive & efficient, I promise!

While I did this long before we had kids, this step is especially important if you will be working around your kids’ schedules, too. If your children are school-aged, you may be able to work alongside them when they’re awake. However, with younger children, I recommend planning to wake up before them, scheduling calls during nap-time (or mandated rest time in Ry’s room, in our house!), and grabbing a few hours after bedtime, too. If you can swap with your spouse, share “parenting hours” by alternating who gets to work. Chris will play with the boys in the early AM while I get work done, and then we’ll switch so he can get his calls in, too. He’ll often take the boys outside after dinner so I can get some work done then, too!

If you have no choice but to work while they’re awake, here are a few helpful things that get me through busy days:

  • Talk with your children about your work. Make sure they know what you’re doing and that you’re not avoiding them! If they are interrupting your work, take a 5 minute break and play HARD with them, and then try to give it a go again. More often than not, they just need to know you care!
  • Start the day off with your kids. When they wake up, be 100% there with them and have lots of fun! Eat breakfast together, snuggle on the couch, get some quick time in with them. Then, give them a 5 minute warning before you start work.
  • Set up a work area in the same area where your kids will be. My desk is in the playroom, so that I can edit when necessary while they play around me.
  • Don’t be afraid of screen-time. Sometimes you just need to put a show or movie on to get stuff done! (More on this below)
  • If you have pre-scheduled video calls, ask if you can change them to phone conferences. Explain that your kids are home due to school closings, and that they may hear some noise in the background, but you are doing your best! I’ve found people to be very understanding — especially with childcare issues (and during this season, too!).

Tip #2: Be Where You Are

What I mean by this is: when you’re trying to be productive with work, be 100% there. Some tips:

  • Don’t hop on Instagram for a second because no one is there to see — trust me, it will quickly turn into 15 minutes, and you’ll have wasted lots of time. Instead, try setting a timer for a specific length of time to work and reward yourself with a social media check once you’re done!
  • Avoid spending work timeĀ planning what you need to work on. I try to take the night before to plan out exactly what I need to get done the next day so that I can hop right into productivity and not waste precious work hours planning. My Simplified Planner is a huge help with this, but you could easily make your own daily schedule, too!
  • When you’re not working, don’t work! It’s hard to set clear boundaries when you work from home (and not always totally necessary either), but as often as you can, try to be 100% with your spouse or kids when you’re with them. Set your laptop or phone in the other room, turn off notifications so you’ll only see them from your desktop, and spend intentional time with them, too!

Tip #3: Create a cozy + clean workspace

In this chaotic time, give yourself the gift of a peaceful workspace. Having a set spot to go to in the morning makes a huge difference for some reason! Now, some days I do work from the couch in a cozy blanket (like, right now….haha!), but most days actually going TO my desk is super helpful.

My desk may be in the middle of our playroom, but I always try to clear it off, light a candle, and grab a snack when it’s time to work. Try to keep everything you need in one space. Hang up sweet photos and encouraging prints and try to make the space as positive as you can! This doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy…in fact, all of my photos behind my computer were printed directly from instagram to our home printer on normal printer paper!

Tip #4: Screen time is your friend!

Saying this again for the working mommas out there: please don’t feel guilty if you need to put a movie on or plop your kid in front of an iPad for a couple of hours to absolutely get anything done. Depending on my workload for the day, I’ve done it all! Is it our “norm”? No, way! But honestly: is anything happening in life right now the “norm”?!

Like I mentioned before, as long as you’re intentionally investing in your children at other times of the day, I see nothing wrong with giving them a good snack and setting up a show so you can get work done. And then after, head outside for a walk or send them in the backyard if you still aren’t finished! Even if the weather is gross…I’ll bundle up the boys, put them in boots, and tell them to go outside. Haha!

I hope some of this was helpful to you and that you’re able to create a positive workspace in your home!! Comment below with any other suggestions or questions, too!



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Sami Orndorff is a Wedding Photographer & Lifestyle Newborn Photographer located in the greater Indianapolis area.