Working from home can be difficult when you are not used to it. You might even find it more stressful than going into the office. Getting things done at home can be hard. There are so many distractions: Kids constantly bothering you, cleaning that needs done around your house, and everything that you do to relax being right there. A lot of people are finding that this COVID-19 crisis has made work stress less manageable. So here are some thoughts on how you and your partner can help each other stay productive while at home.
One of the most stressful jobs I have ever had was doing in-home family therapy. It was stressful, because I worked in peoples homes. So my office was my car, in-between sessions. This made it really hard to keep my work stress from following me home. And how much more difficult to compartmentalize that stress when work is literally happening at home!
I have found that having a “going to work” and “getting home” ritual to be helpful. Dress like you would to go to work whenever you sit down to start working from home. When you are done, change into more casual clothes. Pick out a certain spot that you will work from. This could be a particular chair or room. Just make sure that it is a separate spot from where you relax. Here is a helpful article on using compartmentalizing to help you be more productive.
Support Each Other
One of the hardest parts of working from home during this quarantine is that all the kids are home too. Children are distracting in such unique ways, because they actually need us to survive. So it is important to communicate with your partner about realistic expectations for managing parenting responsibilities and work.
One person might actually have a lighter work load than the other. In that case, one of you might be able to take on more of the responsibility when it comes to homeschooling or keeping the kids busy. Sometimes you might have similar work loads. In that case, you might need to come up with a more tag-team approach. Setting expectations on the front end will help you avoid conflict later on.
Be Clear About What Your Work Responsibilities Look Like
I joke that my friends and family have no clue what I do for work. While I normally say this in a joking way, there is some truth to it. Odds are no matter how much you may talk about work, your partner does not really know what your day-to-day looks like. To the outside observer, sitting with your laptop could easily be work or relaxing.
So make sure to be communicative about what your day looks like. Let each other know when you will be on video calls. That way you do not end up like one of those embarrassing videos of someone walking around in their underwear in the background. Talk about what blocks of time during your day are most busy so that you can leave each other alone. You will be able to keep from distracting each other if you know when each of you needs to keep the most focus.
If you are looking for help in your relationship during this strange time, give The Marriage & Family Clinic a call.
About the Author
Ryan Hicks is a licensed therapist and marriage counselor at The Marriage and Family Clinic in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in working with couples in high conflict and working with couples in the LGBTQ community. When he’s not working with couples, you’ll find him rock climbing or taking in the great outdoors of Colorado