Social Distancing Strategies: How to Stay Focused With Family Around

New stay-at-home policies have provided families a unique opportunity to interact and connect more than ever before. Personally, since COVID-19 social distancing regulations began, my daughters are studying from home and my husband is working from home. But, how do you stay focused and work from home when your family is around?

Here are some suggestions from my experience of working from home:

1) Set a schedule
Setting a schedule for the day provides everyone with an idea of what the day will look like and provides space for everyone’s tasks. On a larger scale, every Monday, I try to lay out the week and look at work and school commitments. If I have a lot of conference calls one day, then I will not schedule as much school work for my daughters or I will pick assignments they can complete without assistance. Within this schedule, I try to front load the week and do larger or important tasks first. This leaves room either to enjoy the slower less stressful days on Thursday or Friday or more likely than not, gives room for those last-minute projects that will pop up mid-week.

2) Set expectations
Before you start an important task, conference call, or your work time, set expectations with your family. If you allow your parents, children, spouse, or roommates to interrupt you, they will continue to do so. But, if you set expectations at the beginning that you are not to be bothered, they will be less likely to interrupt.

A note on multi-tasking – we all seem to think we are good at multi-tasking, but study after study shows that we are all wrong! Don’t expect to be able to work on a presentation and quiz your 2nd grader on their spelling words at the same time!

3) Set up a (private) workspace
Ideally this should be in a room with a door that will close or somewhere not in the center of the house where you work only. This will also reinforce setting expectations – when you are in this space, you are doing work and not to be interrupted.

This may be the hardest tip as many of us may not have the space for a home office and are working from our kitchen tables or couches. My suggestion here would be to put away your laptop when you are not working which will send a message that when my laptop is out I am working and not to be disturbed. Also, invest in some noise cancelling headphones!

For more strategies on how to set up your work from home space, check out this blog post.

4) Set a Quiet Time
For an hour after lunch each day we have quiet time, which for the kids means in their room, by themselves to unwind, rest, finish any work they didn’t complete in the morning and just be alone. For the adults, this is time to get some important work completed.

5) Set up a Safety Net
If you have a spouse, roommate, or other caregiver in your home, take turns being point person for the kids and don’t allow them to interrupt the other when they are working. If it is just you, or you both have something important to do, this is when you pull out the favorite movie, TV show, or video game.

6) Set an Escape Route
When tensions and noise levels are high, oftentimes I take this as a sign that we all need a break – myself from computer work and the kids from their schoolwork, tablets, or TV. Taking a quick walk if it’s nice outside or doing a short family work-out video inside often solves this issue.

For more on social distancing strategies, visit the NeW blog.

This blog was written by Susan Jenkins, NeW Operations Manager.

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