By now, most of us have settled into a comfortable work-from-home routine due to the pandemic. Yet, even if you’ve been working remote for six months or more, it can still be a challenge to stay focused — especially when you have spouses sharing your workspace and kiddos home for virtual learning. The balance between work and home life has been particularly difficult in the wake of nationwide stay-at-home orders, so you’re not alone if you feel like you’ve been carrying too much weight on your shoulders.
While there isn’t much we can do about returning to work outside the home, there are plenty of tips and tricks that can help you set boundaries at home and find more focus and flow during your working hours (even if it’s at the kitchen table).
We spoke with event professionals across the industry to see how they’re holding up at home and they graciously shared these strategies for concentrating on work and maintaining as much of a work-life balance as possible when working from home.
Start the night before
Shannan Tarrant of WeddingVenueMap.com urges: “The most important thing is to finish every day with a clear plan of what has to be accomplished tomorrow. While the to-do list is never-ending, I prioritize the top 3 things I have to accomplish that day and make sure to time block those into my day. With family, we talk about my schedule the following day as to when I can take breaks to chat and check-in and when I need to stay focused.”
Carve out a space at home
“Set up a dedicated work space — a place that is reserved for work and only work,” encourages Nora Sheils of Rock Paper Coin and Bridal Bliss. “Make it attractive and positive…not a dark corner of the house. Also, schedule regular breaks! Rather than stopping for snacks every fifteen minutes, you have set times to stretch, work on the towering laundry, or grab something to eat.”
Keep your to-do list updated
“Keep a notepad with your to-do list with a daily list of things to do if you aren’t busy,” says Jennifer Borgh of Borghinvilla Wedding Venue. “You can’t get bored if you have a pending list of things to do on those downtimes. Slow days can be used to schedule social media posts in advance, follow up on inquiries, or organize files.”
Set the right mood
“The best thing I’ve found that works to manage distractions is putting on a playlist of music that helps your brain focus,” explains Kristin Wilson of Our DJ Rocks. “There is a part of your brain called the locus coeruleus that handles decision-making. It’s impacted by sound, so listening to the right kind of music can increase focus and productivity.”
Wilson continues: “Music can also cause a release in dopamine in your brain, which has been scientifically linked to making you feel good and easing stress and anxiety. The type of music you choose is key as well – mainly something without lyrics so you don’t get distracted by singing along or Googling song lyrics all day. Try classical, spa, or nature sounds. If you aren’t into that, look at electronic music, lo-fi hip-hop beats, or ambient EDM.”
Automate as much as possible
“When you have automated systems in place, it takes a whole load of work off your plate,” explains Jen Taylor of Jen Taylor Consulting. “There are countless options available, so do some research and don’t be afraid to sign up for a free trial or two to take them on a test run. Instead of worrying about email follow-ups and invoicing, you can dedicate your focus on more important things like prospecting, creative work, or taking an extra-long lunch break to take the little ones out for a stroll.”
Block your schedule
“What has worked best for me, as a mom of 3 children who owns multiple businesses, is blocking my time,” shares Simone Vega of Coordinated to Perfection. “The best way to explain time blocking is to think about your years as a student in high school. You had a math period where you concentrated only on math, an English period where you only focused on English, and so on. Blocking my time has allowed me to focus on one specific task or project and actually complete it. It may take several days or even a week to complete it, but at least I can feel like I accomplished and hit a major goal or milestone.”
Be firm but flexible with your team
Tommy Waters of The Renaissance says: “Stress the importance of working from home and still being available and productive to your team. To some employees, working from home is like a day off. It can be very tempting to let your focus stray while working from home, but adhering to a structured format will help everyone stay honest. Avoid micromanaging unless you have to. If everyone is pulling their weight and getting all the tasks accomplished, building in a little ‘playing hooky’ time may not be a bad thing.”
Ultimately, everyone has had to make concessions due to extended work-from-home situations. Whether you’re creating art from your living room or locking your office door to make a call without interruptions, it might mean simply doing enough to get by while we navigate this challenging period. Try not to hold yourself to pre-pandemic expectations and, when in doubt, lean on your resourcefulness — after all, we are an industry built upon creatives who know how to solve problems.
Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.