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IEA Affiliate Week: Separating Working at Home from Home Life by Kate Bathon Shufeldt

Kate Bathon Shufeldt
Kate Bathon Shufeldt

I am Kate Bathon Shufeldt, a Board member of the Indiana Evaluation Association and owner of Thrive Nonprofit Solutions, an independent consulting firm in Indianapolis. Having worked from a home office for years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had an opportunity to develop and refine my strategies for working from home. While there is a multitude of resources to help you track projects and connect virtually with colleagues, one of the most important lessons I learned was how to NOT work at home.

When your office is just down the hall from the kitchen and living room, it is incredibly easy to blur the lines between “work time” and “family/home time.” There are often times where I work past 5:00, especially when it is site visit or deadline season. However, recognizing that sometimes you must make yourself NOT work helps ward off a lot of frustration and burn out.

Lessons Learned:

Below are a few tricks and strategies I use to help separate work life from home life.

  1. Adjust the notifications settings on your phone, so you only receive notices during “work” hours. Unless you or a client are nearing a deadline, there is no reason you need to check your email at 9:00 PM.
  2. To the extent possible, establish a work area that is separate from your living area so you can walk away for the evening. If you have an office, this is easy. However, if you have to set up shop at the dining table or kitchen counter, move your laptop out of the way when you are finished for the day so that it creates a sense of “coming home.”
  3. If your work does not require it and you are not on a deadline, don’t be a clock-watcher. While it is essential to establish a routine when working from home, there are also some freedoms that you should recognize. If you hit a wall at 3:00 and you don’t HAVE to complete something that afternoon, don’t force yourself. If you are having a slow morning and don’t make it to your computer until 10:00, that is okay. I found that forcing myself to continue sitting at my desk when my brain is done for the day is counterproductive and actually sets me back. If I have a frustrating day at work one day, then the next is already off to a rough start. Use that afternoon for some extra “me” time and start fresh the next day.
  4. Shower and put on “real” clothes. This may sound simple, but it is vital. “Real” clothes can still be comfortable and more casual than you might wear to the office, but you should not spend all day in your pajamas. It makes you feel like a workday has begun, and your colleagues on Zoom calls will appreciate it.

The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Indiana Evaluation Association (IEA) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from IEA members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

2 thoughts on “IEA Affiliate Week: Separating Working at Home from Home Life by Kate Bathon Shufeldt”

  1. Hello Kate,
    Thank you for sharing your insight on helpful tips to assist in the separation of a work and life balance. Many readers can relate as the need to decrease interactions with others is increasing, which has simultaneously caused an increase of our work lives entering our homes. Techniques such as having an additional space and setting up strict work hours are helpful in attempting to accomplish a more work and life balance. As I further reflect upon your techniques, I also want to offer a few suggestions to your cause. I propose to be mindful of everything you do, when you do, why you do it, and how you do it. One, be mindful of the time. Spend your work hours being as purposeful as your heart and mind can handle. Step back to look at the bigger picture and ask yourself what matters; try to accomplish that within the time you are working. Two, be mindful of positive energy, during work and after work. Be the positive energy others want to be around, virtually. Surround yourself with positive energy, virtually. Laugh when times are hard. Release your tension. Three, be mindful of your heart. Careers come with many stresses and challenges. Just remember, you are doing the best you can, and unfortunately, even when you give your best, you cannot help every person the way you want to. Do not let challenges dwell in your heart. Connect with your feelings. Take care of yourself. Do things that make your heart happy. Spend time with those that make your heart happy. Take part in social activities. Four, be mindful of your health. Health is wealth, physical and mental. Put your pen or computer down and take time to eat your healthy snacks and lunch throughout the day. Drink your water. Listen to your body when it is telling you it needs a break. Sleep well. Five, be mindful of your goals. Be aware of the path you are on and how to reach the different milestones along that path. Organize your thoughts and reflect on what you want to achieve, how, and why. Be accepting of obstacles and work through a plan to overcome them. Get knocked down 9 times, get up at 10! Best of luck in your future endeavours fellow lifelong learner and journeyer!

  2. Simple, straight forward, and very helpful ideas. Although my office is in my home and I have worked here for over 20 years, I have often forced myself to keep working within the parameters of the normal work day. It took me awhile to realize this is counterproductive when my brain is not in the “go” mode and to stop, turn off the computer and do something else. Kate’s list really captured that reality.

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