My husband and I always talked about how insanely awesome it would be for us to work from home together. I know it sounds a little corny, but we’re genuinely happy and content with each other’s company. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or how we feel (most of the time!), we always seem to be on the same page or know how to get on the same page.
For that reason, working side by side HAD to be the most ultimate situation of ALL time. Right?
A Dream Come True?
Well that dream actually came true for us after we moved abroad. We no longer had to leave each other every morning and come back exhausted after hours of traffic. We could now work from home from two desks in the very same room of our little apartment. That meant a whole lotta quality time that we never had before…
Aside from the increased time spent side by side, how our day flows also is now completely up to us. If the sun is shining, maybe we go for a hike during lunch. If it just snowed, we can spend the morning skiing and THEN work all night. Or we can work for 14 hours straight on a rainy Sunday. Having that kind of freedom is motivating, but it also means more things that we have to agree upon daily.
So now that we’re together almost 24/7 and making decisions as a couple constantly, how do we NOT kill each other?! Better yet, how do we end each day still smiling?
How to Work from Home with your Partner (and stay in LOVE)
1. Respect your individual routines.
Even though you’re together pretty much all the time now, allow the other person to have a routine that’s different than yours. Especially if they need it.
When you work from home with your partner, you’ll be physically together but not necessarily emotionally together at all times. It’s a weird adjustment, especially if you’re not used to it. But it’s definitely important, since each person is also an individual.
Before we started working from home, our daily routines were pretty much set with our 9-5s and commutes to and from work. We never had to think about it. And when we got home from work, we spent time making dinner, doing laundry, watching a movie – together. Now we need to find our own individual routines and get used to the fact that they may not be the same.
2. Create differences in your routine to allow for personal space.
Find moments in your day where you can do your own thing. You can wake up at the same time, of course, but maybe your partner prefers to jump into breakfast and the news and you enjoy taking it slow. Make that your personal time.
Once we found differences in our individual routines, we used those differences to create space for ourselves. Now, when we wake up together, Erin gets ready for the day and then hops over to the living room for morning emails and the news. I, on the other hand, take time for me. I write in my journal and slowly get ready for the day (with appropriate background music, of course). Then, I spend time getting breakfast ready. Once we meet up again in the living room, we both feel like we had some time for ourselves.
3. Allow each other to keep doing what you love.
This is huge! Neither person should sacrifice doing what they love and what makes them happy just because there’s no set time for it.
For example, Erin loves video games, so if he wants to take a break from working and play them at any point, then he should go for it (this was one for me to get used to..!) And if I want to call my best friend for some serious girl catch-up time in the middle of the day, I can.
It’s weird when you’re together all day to recognize moments where it’s time to do YOU.
4. Make a schedule to follow every day.
This was SO helpful for us. When you’re with your love all day, you can get easily distracted. You’re so happy spending time together, other to-dos seem way less fun than hanging out and watching a move or going for a walk.
With a schedule, you can predict those moments where you’ll get distracted.
Designate times to stop what you’re doing, no matter what and find an adventure. Schedule lunch time. Or set a STOP time where you shut off technology and do something awesome. We even planned every type of day – lazy work Sundays, half day Fridays. When things are regimented it can be such a relief!
And if you don’t want to follow your schedule – no problem at all! It just provides structure in a day that can be completely unstructured.
5. Take breaks – both together and apart.
Breaks are such a refresher. It takes you away from your computer and reminds you where you are and the situation you’re in (which is pretty amazing!). Some breaks may be together. Others can be apart. Both are important and will do wonders for your mind and your work.
As I mentioned before, Erin loves video games. So sometimes he needs a mental break and embarks on a mission to complete a few levels of his game. For me, I really enjoy a nice long walk/run to clear my mind. But other times, we’ll drive somewhere during lunch together. Whether it’s a 3 hour adventure in the middle of the day or just a standard errand with a little extra flair – adding ice cream or a stop at our bakery. All of the above are important for us mentally!
6. Find time for what you want to accomplish individually.
Of course you’ll make to-do lists together, but make one for yourself too. That way, you can focus on what you personally want to accomplish in addition to what you both want to accomplish.
We use Basecamp, which is a web-based project management program. You can have multiple contributors if it’s a joint project, but can also manage your own project individually as well. It can be accessed online and on your cell phone at all times, so there’s no hiding from your tasks. It helps us keep track of each other and hold the other person accountable to make sure we’re taking care of our individual goals.
7. Work together to accomplish your individual goals.
Okay, now that you have individual goals, it’s time to help each other accomplish them! Helping your significant other achieve success is the most rewarding task. You are each other’s future. Your total success depends on your individual success. Help each other grow and push each other to succeed!
In our schedule, we’ve incorporated a specific time where we can recap and talk about our day of work. If there’s a task one of us needs help on, we can work together the next day to accomplish it. Or if one of us has a job to accomplish alone, but needs extra motivation, we can provide the other person with enough support to overcome obstacles and get it done individually the next day.
8. Find time for what you want to accomplish as a team.
At the same time, set goals together that you achieve as a team. It feels good to accomplish something in general. So when you accomplish something together, it will create a special bond and appreciation between you that would never be realized if you worked separately.
After all, individually you have different strengths, so combing those strengths makes you unstoppable. And the more unstoppable you feel as a couple, the more you confident you’ll be in your relationship, especially when you’re faced with challenges.
9. Take your work outside of the house once in a while!
Just because you have a home office together, doesn’t mean you have to sit home working all day. So pack up and get outside for a few hours!
Throw some snacks in your cooler, grab a blanket or lawn chair and find a nice park to get some work done. While you’re together enjoying the great outdoors, it won’t even feel like work at all. And trust me, you’ll be energized by your surroundings and will get SO much done!
10. Enjoy moments involving NO work at all.
Make sure you stop working and actually spend time as a couple every day. Now that you work from home, it doesn’t mean the romance needs to be pushed aside.
End each night with something romantic like watching a movie and cuddling on the couch. Make something delicious for dinner and eat it ALL! Play a game. It will help you separate work life from your personal relationship and keep the magic alive.
As you can see, we dedicated a whole 2 hours to making cupcakes one day and it was the BEST decision. (Even though we completely failed because Funfetti cupcakes just don’t work the same in Austria!) Sure we could’ve worked all night long with the endless amount of work we have, but we didn’t. Those are the memories that will stick with us forever, and they can be easily forgotten when you’re glued to the computer!
11. NEVER ignore your feelings.
This is BY FAR one of the most important tips I could give you. When you’re with something literally all the time, any issues you have in the back of your mind are going to surface. Don’t ignore them! Make sure you talk through every single thing. It can be hard at times – and you’ll definitely grow tired of having these conversations, but it will be GOLDEN for the future of your relationship.
We struggled with this for a while, because I ALWAYS have things on my mind (especially when we first moved here), and I also can be hesitant to express them. In the beginning it was definitely frustrating, but Erin wouldn’t let me ignore them. We talked about every single feeling. The result was beyond rewarding. The many talks won’t end, but they’ll get easier and easier and you’ll grow happier both individually and as a couple.
And the happier your relationship is, the better your work will be too! Now that you work from home, work and your relationship are now directly connected. So take care of both.
12. Look at each other once and a while and SMILE
You’d be surprised at how easily this can be forgotten. If you stop for a second and actually look at each other, it puts everything into perspective. You are working side by side with your partner in crime and that’s awesome! Exit the extreme work zone, remember and appreciate that.
Being with someone 24/7 can seem overwhelming when you think about it. And of course it won’t be perfect right away…
Adjusting to this life change can be bumpy at times. Moments of frustration and annoyance are definitely going to happen. But also moments of pure completeness and bliss. (We’ve had our fair share of both – trust me!)
But gradually, you’ll settle into your routine and adjust to each other’s working habits. And when that happens, something just clicks. You develop an understanding of each other that would’ve never existed in your separate working worlds. An understanding that will flow through to your relationship outside of work, making it stronger.
When you work from home with the person you love most, you are helping them accomplish their dreams. And most importantly, you’re developing new dreams to accomplish together.