by Silke Putscher
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift from on-site operations to a work-from-home setup. This sudden change has made it difficult for many employees to maintain their previous levels of productivity. This is partly due to the lack of boundaries between work and home life, especially when it comes to handling pets.
Pets have provided many people stuck at home with love and companionship, especially those dealing with isolation. Additionally, studies have shown that pets can increase happiness and reduce stress levels, preventing burnout from work.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to negotiate boundaries with pets. Unlike humans, they may not fully understand why you can’t spend time with them during work hours or the difference between your “home” and “work” spaces.
The key is to find the proper methods to keep your pet happy without losing your focus at work. Below are some tips to boost your productivity while caring for your furry friend.
1. Set designated play breaks
Cats, among other pets, thrive on routine and predictability. With the sudden shift to a remote work setup, your previous routine may have been disrupted. One way to establish a new habit is to make playtime a regular occurrence within the workday.
These short breaks allow your pet to get the activity and attention they want while allowing you to catch a breath and relax. This also helps reinforce the boundaries of your work time and free time.
2. Keep your pet occupied
Pets will have plenty of energy throughout the day and may end up bothering you (or unsuspecting furniture) if they are bored. A good way to help them release this energy without causing trouble is to provide them with fun toys, games, or structures to busy themselves with.
A challenging toy or a structure they can explore will keep them occupied and stimulated until you have time to engage with them again. Just be sure that the toys and structures you leave your pets with have no hazards that can harm them.
3. Be mindful of feeding schedules
An unfortunate consequence of working from home is that work time can easily spill over into personal time. While you may easily shrug off eating meals late, your pet cannot do the same. A hungry pet may wander into your space and try to get your attention so it can be fed.
Set alarms and other reminders to help you remember when to pull away from work to feed your furry friend. If mealtimes take too long, consider breaking up their meals into shorter, more frequent feedings.
4. Structure your workday
One advantage of working from home is that you have more flexibility in your work hours. Planning your day around your pet’s habits can healthily integrate all their needs—such as walks, feeding, potty breaks, and playtime—without becoming disruptions to your workflow.
You can even consider adjusting your workflow to give you more opportunities to spend time with your pets. Switching to the Apple ecosystem, for example, can make it easier to check emails or review files from your iPhone or iPad while you play with your pets.
5. Plan for the occasional distraction
Nobody’s perfect—not even your pets. Plans can go awry, and pets can still create distractions now and then. Instead of being hard on yourself or your pet for getting taken out of your focus, it helps to take the situation in stride.
Address any urgent pet needs, if there are any. For example, if your pet is whining and begging to be in your space without reason, do not give in and gently keep them away from your work area. Once you have calmed down, you can return to your routine. It may take time for you and your pet to adjust, but it is well worth the effort.
A furry friend to accompany you
At the end of the day, having a furry friend to deal with on top of working can be a challenge. Being a pet guardian is a great deal. Staying flexible with these changes and figuring out which methods work best for you and your pet will pay off in the long run.
About the Author:
Silke is an officer at Macs4u, a Minnesota-based company dedicated to delivering the best value in pre-owned Apple Macintosh computers. She is also an avid animal lover who advocates for the welfare of no-kill and high save rate shelters.