For those of you who are students or recent grads, there’s a good chance that you’re sharing your space with someone else. This is something not-so-recent grads are also experiencing, and learning how to share that workspace is a tactic you’ll need to master. The world has shifted nearly completely online, and that includes how you work. That means you’ll need to figure out ways to cope and deal with others continually being in and around your workspace. And not just cope, but you want to excel still and produce high-quality work despite any potential distractions.
How to create space and distance while working from home
While it can be a bit challenging to work from home (WFH) when your roommates are likely on different schedules, there are steps you can take to limit distractions.
The very first thing you should do is have a conversation with your roommate. Let them know what you need in order to work at your best. Be honest about your needs, and try not to feel guilty. This is a unique time for everyone so communicating your needs clearly is the right first step.
It’s also important that you listen and be respectful of their needs. They’ll be trying to adapt to working while you’re in the home, too, so you’ll likely need to make some adjustments, yourself. The goal should be full transparency and trying to find compromises so both of you can feel comfortable.
Create a schedule and try to stick to it
Predictability, in this case, is actually a good thing. If your roommates know that you have your head down from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., they won’t interrupt you for brunch until it’s your break time. But if you’re constantly breaking that schedule, then it becomes easier for them to break it, too. A schedule is also useful for setting personal limits on how much time you work. It’s easy to get caught working all day when you’re at home without any breaks, but setting a hard start and stop time helps you better manage your time. Try setting your schedule weekly so you can adjust for any appointments or errands that need to be done that week.
This kind of goes without saying, but there are different ways to show respect.
- Respecting boundaries — If you and your roommates have sectioned off work areas for yourself, don’t intrude on those boundaries during work time. Physical distance should not be a luxury even though you both share the same home. That respect should continue even off-work hours. If you don’t need to be in your roommate’s workspace, then don’t be.
- Respecting quiet time — This is similar to respecting boundaries. You have dedicated quiet time, which is time you’ve set as do not disturb so you can get work done without being interrupted. Those times need to be respected, and that means no loud music or no asking your roommate if they want to follow you to the store.
- Do something nice — You live together, so you likely know when your roommate is going through something or just having a not so great day. Leaving an encouraging note at their workstation or taking them out for a walk are small ways to show that you understand what they’re going through.
Take time for yourself
You love your roommate. You at least like them, or else why would you be living together? But being together all day, every day, can cause conflict and arouse feelings of resentment you didn’t even know existed. That’s why no matter how well you get along with each other, it’s crucial that you set some time aside for yourself.
There are a few ways you can do that:
- Close your room door
- Take solo walks
- Exercise or meditate
- Listen to your favourite podcast
The goal is to be alone, so you give yourself time to sit with your own thoughts. Always having to be in the presence of someone else can be draining, and if either of you feels off, then that can trigger unnecessary bickering. Avoid that as much as possible by always finding time within the day to be by yourself.
Prepped is here to help you work smarter
We’re all navigating this new normal together. While some are impacted more profoundly than others, we’re all affected in some way. Finding the right way to work from home when you have roommates can be challenging. It’s tempting to break the guidelines you set for yourself or not create any guidelines at all. But you always want to be your best and produce work you can be proud of, so having those conversations with your roommates and figuring out your boundaries are necessary steps to making that possible.
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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.