Balancing Job Duties and Daily Life in the Work-from-Home Environment

Balancing Job Duties and Daily Life in the Work-from-Home Environment

Working from home can be a daunting experience, even for long-time telecommuters, and it often requires a period of adjustment to develop a productive daily routine. In the work-from-home setting, distractions invariably come up throughout the day, so balancing job duties, health, family, and personal interests can seem impossible, and the boundary line between work and personal life can easily become blurred.
In the current global environment, most people lack the time to make an easy transition to working from home and planning an organized home work schedule, with pressure from household duties being high and timelines to finish remote projects short. Many who work remotely also have to care for children or parents, creating a situation in which people are doing two jobs at once. This can lead to burnout if telecommuters don’t take the time to focus on their own needs and plan their lives efficiently.

With the work-from-home lifestyle becoming ever more common around the world, it’s important for remote team members to establish clear limits between work time and personal time. In this way, you can become more productive in job-related tasks and feel less stressed. If you fail to establish limits and systems that help you stay focused on what you need to do, you’ll not only be less productive but may also end up becoming overly fatigued in both your work and daily life.

Fortunately, there are specific steps you can take to create boundaries and thus help yourself be productive in both work and household tasks during this challenging time. The following are some practical suggestions to assist you along the way.

Shut the Door to Your Work Space

By far, the most challenging aspect of working from home is the lack of physical separation between domestic life and work life. When you go to a business office, you know it’s a place to work. When you operate from home, however, domestic and job duties inevitably run together unless you set up a designated office area and go there when it’s time to do work-related tasks.

A space with a door that you can close is ideal because when you close it, you can maintain some degree of separation from the people you live with; otherwise, if they have the chance to walk in and talk to you, give you a hug, or socialize, they will. On the other hand, when they see that the door is closed, it’s a cue that you’re working and need some time that’s free of distractions. It might even be helpful to put an “at work” sign on the door to make it perfectly clear you need to be left alone.

Incidentally, eliminating distractions also relates to the virtual domain, so it’s a good idea to turn off notifications from Twitter, Slack, and other messaging platforms.

Divide up Your Time

This step is important because it allows you to be more productive than you would otherwise be. In most cases, when people work from home, it’s hard to keep a strict 9-to-5 schedule, especially with homeschooling duties and other domestic challenges to deal with. More important is to create a plan about how you’ll go about accomplishing your schedule of tasks in the time you have available. And an ideal place to keep such a schedule is the large open canvas of a whiteboard painted wall. Here you can record all the activities you need to complete in a given day, week, or month, and easily change the entries when necessary by erasing and rewriting. The great size of a whiteboard wall allows you to mark all the activities on your schedule in large print, making them easier to see and interact with. Although, according to psychologists, large lettering is not necessarily an aid to memory, unusually shaped and hard-to-read lettering is, so you can use an odd writing style when putting items on your agenda to help you remember exactly what to do and when to do it. Recent studies have shown that people recall much more material in science, history, language, and other fields when they study it in a font that’s both unfamiliar and also hard to read.

You can divide your time into chunks that cover the entire day. For example, you might create a morning chunk when you can quietly do writing projects before other family members are awake then respond to emails and texts in the same chunk of time. In the afternoon, you can make a block for doing research or participating in meetings, with each task scheduled so that they don’t interfere with other activities.

Using this approach will also make it easy to prioritize the day’s projects. If a colleague wants to have a virtual meeting, you can just offer them a time during the next chunk of your schedule. And if an unexpected task comes up, it will either need to fit into the suitable block of time in your schedule, or it will have to wait.

Keep a Time Log

Open a new spreadsheet on your laptop or desktop and write the days of the week along the top. Include half-hour blocks from 5 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. along the left side, then record what you do every day in this time log: sleep, make breakfast, work, go out on errands, etc. Do this every week, 168 hours, then archive the log, open a new spreadsheet, and keep tracking your time usage with your log. If you continue doing this, the way you think about and use your time will undoubtedly change. In fact, knowing exactly how your hours are spent each day will help you become more efficient, and you may come to realize that even in a jam-packed life, there is still space for other activities. Knowing where your time is spent will allow you to reassign segments of time from mundane pursuits such as web surfing to meaningful activities such as reading literary classics or taking up a musical instrument.

Keeping a time log can help you realize that you have the chance to ramp up your involvement in personal interests. However, the most important outcome of maintaining a log can be a newfound sense of time’s abundance, the recognition that you have a full life and have time to do what’s necessary to make it even more meaningful. Gaining this sense of time’s abundance requires only a few minutes each day to keep your log up to date.

Plan When to Quit Working

Just as important as being deliberate about how you use your time is being deliberate about when to quit working. This means no more last-minute emails or text messages. Just stop. You’ll always have plenty of work to do, but if you don’t decide when to stop working, your life will become unbalanced. You’ll keep working and won’t have enough time for other tasks such as household chores that also need to be done. Quitting work doesn’t just happen on its own, and if you wait until you’re wrapped up in a major project to try and determine where to stop, most often you won’t, and you’ll find a reason to just keep working past your designated quitting time.

As an alternative, when planning your day, decide on an exact time to quit, and when you reach that point, stop, even if you have more work to do than you did when you started. Quit, and avoid thinking about work. Then the next morning, you can make a new plan to get the rest of the work done. Just be sure that your next plan also includes a time to quit, which you can write in large letters on your whiteboard wall to help you remember.

Dry Erase Wall Paint

How Dry-Erase Painted Walls Benefit Teachers

Top-quality ReMARKable Dry-Erase Paint is a natural fit as an instructional tool for teachers from the kindergarten to the university level. The huge open writing and drawing canvas provided by a dry-erase painted wall makes teaching much easier and more enjoyable for students and teachers alike. Some of the many advantages that dry-erase painted surfaces provide for teachers are presented in this article.

Promote Retention of Lesson Material through “Meta-cognitive Modelling”

The real-time creation of text and visual images that occurs when teachers use dry-erase painted walls strengthens information retention among students studying math, science, English, history, and other subjects. Also, when teachers speak while going through a series of steps in a process like solving a math problem or interpreting a story on a dry-erase wall, they engage in “meta-cognitive modeling.” In this approach, teachers talk through the various stages of their thought process with students while writing on the wall, thus demonstrating how to reason in lessons that involve interpreting information, analyzing statements, solving problems, or drawing conclusions. The meta-cognitive modeling or thinking-out-loud technique is especially applicable in math classes, where teachers plan and then explicitly describe their underlying thinking process during problem-solving.

In fact, this activity should be the main focus of so-called “teacher talk” during all types of lessons. Teacher talk includes everything said to students while they’re working in the classroom, and when teachers think out loud, students pay closer attention than they otherwise would. The meta-cognitive modeling strategy can also be practiced in reading classes, as teachers ask rhetorical questions while reading a story or make comments about how to anticipate what’s coming up next in the plot while writing down the key aspects of their thought process on a Dry Erase Wall as they go.

In this way, students can more actively participate in learning by bringing together all of their mental resources and so have more profitable learning experiences. In order to do this, a dry-erase painted wall can function as a centerpiece for the learning process as teachers write out and speak about the sequence of steps involved in solving or understanding given academic material like the math problems or story plots mentioned above. When children “think about thinking” like this, they come to understand how they learn and become conscious of the steps followed and the
means used to gain knowledge, solve problems and perform other academic tasks.

Enhance Collaboration among Students and between Teachers and Students

By promoting lively interaction between teachers and students and among groups of students working together on lessons, dry-erase walls are ideal media for real-time collaborative learning. According to studies by educational psychologists, students using dry-erase boards instead of flip charts or other media are better at collaborating and encouraging others to work with them in sharing ideas.

For instance, in comparing flip charts to dry-erase boards, the researchers found that geometry students who worked out problems on flip charts did most of their talking before any writing or drawing began, possibly because marker ink is not erasable from flip chart paper. Therefore, much of the reasoning about what should be presented on the charts stopped before much content was written down. This occurred even though the students had been told they could start over on a fresh sheet of paper as often as they liked. In addition, the writer was almost always the same student – the one who drew the best, wrote most legibly or was the most aggressive in snatching the marker. This caused the final product that appeared on the flip charts to be the writers’ versions of the groups’ ideas.

However, with dry-erase boards, instead of waiting until the group’s reasoning process was completed, students began writing immediately, then stopped, started, and erased and rewrote constantly, so what appeared on the board evolved as the conversation developed. While some of the students didn’t write anything, it was much more common to have several students writing or drawing on the board at the same time. Additionally, students who avoided writing did occasionally erase what others had written or suggested that what had been done should be erased and redone.

These findings show that dry-erase boards stimulate group collaboration in a much more dynamic and democratic way than do flip charts or other non-erasable media. The students working on dry-erase surfaces avoided stopping to think about what they were going to write down but instead jumped in and started writing and erasing, so their work evolved dynamically as they collaborated during the problem-solving process. And, with the vast surfaces offered by dry-erase painted walls, such collaborative work would have been even more creative and free-flowing, with many students being able to write at the same time and interacting as a group to solve the assigned geometry problem.

Stimulate Interactivity in the Classroom

Who needs the hassle and high price tag of a complicated electronic interactive whiteboard when a dry-erase painted wall can serve the same purpose for a fraction of the cost? A dry-erase-painted surface turns a classroom wall into a giant interactive whiteboard that teachers can use jointly with multiple students throughout the school day for lessons in any subject area and for any length of time needed.

Provide Freedom to Teach with Abandon

Dry-erase painted walls give teachers the freedom to teach without the constraints caused by the limited writing surfaces of traditional framed dry-erase boards, flip charts, tiny computer screens, and other small media used for instructional purposes. Open-ended and vast, dry-erase walls are attractive blank canvases that inspire a sense of freedom and creativity in teachers and students alike.

Captivate Students and Hold their Attention

The large, open-ended writing and drawing spaces offered by dry-erase painted walls hold kids’ attention extremely well. Children enjoy writing and drawing on vertical surfaces, and with dry-erase painted walls, they have the freedom to cover a vast area in the process. When classwork is done on a dry-erase painted wall, the surface is close to children’s eyes, thus helping them to focus on the task they’re doing, and in turn, improving their ability to concentrate and pay attention. This close proximity, along with the wall’s vertical surface, also allows children to maintain an upright posture, which is another aspect that helps with maintaining attention. Without a chair to rely on for support, children constantly use their back muscles to keep themselves standing straight, so they can easily access the wall’s surface. This helps to foster good posture, which in turn can improve kids’ self-image and desire to learn.

Provide Efficiency in Doing Classroom Teaching

Being large and easy to access at any time throughout the day, dry-erase painted walls are excellent tools for helping teachers to teach efficiently. The fact that dry-erase surfaces are also extremely easy to write on and erase makes changing from math to English to history and other subjects during the day quick and time-saving.

Roominess Provides Enough Space for Multiple Subjects and Users at Once

Dry-erase painted walls allow much more room for teaching lessons than do traditional framed whiteboards or other surfaces, and they also have a lower cost per square foot. The vast open canvas of a dry-erase coated wall lets multiple students write and draw at the same time with the freedom to quickly erase and create something new over and over again. This quality is especially useful in-class brainstorming sessions for essay topics, science project ideas, and the like, as the walls’ roominess encourages students to come up with an endless stream of ideas, record them, and then erase and write again in a continuous flow of creativity. In this way, the walls invite naturalness of thinking and the constant discovery of original concepts in both individual students and groups. Then, after a brainstorming session is over, the results of a team’s collective thinking can be gradually erased and whittled down to those ideas that are most achievable or appropriate for the assignment. Finally, the wall can be used to delineate the steps required to put the ideas obtained through brainstorming into action.