Alejandro and Margarita Pasos have been in the TTI SI Network for the last 2 years, but they’ve been working as business partners for over 25 years. They previously worked in a physical office with their team in Nicaragua, but now live in Miami and have worked remotely from their home for the last year and a half.
They generously offered their wisdom for thriving in that environment for you! Here are the 5 most important things to remember while working remotely and cohabitating with your partner.
Schedule a Meeting! (Yes, Seriously)
You might think scheduling a meeting while working in your home is silly, but Alejandro and Margarita swear by it. “We get together for 10 minutes before our work day starts and check-in for daily tasks,” Alejandro told us. “We’re life partners and business partners, so we play to our individual strengths and come together to succeed.”
You wouldn’t interrupt a coworker while they were in another meeting or at their desk (at least, we hope not!). Your partner is your new coworker. Putting an invite in their Google calendar might feel formal but it’s considerate and will keep you both organized.
“Carving out that time will not only show your own work teams that you’re busy, it means you and your partner are now a work team,” said Margarita. “That’s so important to recognize.”
Define Your Space
You have already likely run into some conflicts while sharing space with your partner, whether that’s the same house, the same office, or even the same desk.
Make sure you each have a place to go for privacy, even if it’s just your bedroom or your balcony. Having your own space is crucial for your remote work success.
Sharing your schedule with each other gives you both a heads up when someone needs to be on a call. Close quarters are inevitable for some people, but even setting up a desk on the other side of your room is better than working elbow to elbow.
Set Clear Boundaries and Expectations
“We make staying emotionally healthy a priority,” said Margarita. “You have to have healthy boundaries and the space to say no to a family member, if you are busy or you just feel that you need some alone time.”
Create a system for indicating if you need privacy or are free to talk. When you or your partner is going to enter a virtual meeting or call, let each other (and the rest of your family) know to avoid loud noises or interruptions.
“Even our son has learned to let us know when he is in class or taking a virtual test,” said Alejandro. “We all cooperate and help each other by making sure the environment of the busy person stays clear of interruptions.”
An idea that might work is something as simple as different colored Post-Its— green for ‘free to talk’, yellow for ‘trying to focus’, and red for ‘do not interrupt’ helps your partner know what’s going on in your work day.
Do you know how your partner prefers to communicate with you and in general? Take this quick assessment and compare results. What can you do to help them adapt? How can you adapt to their style?
Be Gracious with Your Partner
Alejandro and Margarita have been in incredibly difficult situations together already. “We fled Nicargua a year and a half ago because of civil war,” Alejandro said. “We’re familiar with environmental stress.” Their dynamic of caring for each other while working together has given them unique insight into handling our current pandemic.
“If your partner is snappy, it’s not with you,” he continued. “They’re just trying to deal with the situation you’re both in. Snapping back is just throwing gasoline on a fire. Staying emotionally healthy together should be your top priority right now.”
Extend grace to your partner, and be kind to both them and yourself. Our current situation is unprecedented in modern times, so it makes sense if you both are experiencing emotions like anger, anxiety, lethargy, and even grief. Try to feel your emotions instead of suppressing them, but don’t take it out on your partner.
Focus on What You Can Control
“The only thing constant in life is change,” said Margarita. “Practice what is called radical acceptance towards the facts that you cannot change. You need to take this time to focus on what you can control. The person you talk to the most is yourself, so take care of your inner world. If you’re not ok with yourself, your partner, your children, then you can’t give your clients what they need. You can’t give what you don’t have yourself!”
What are you not in control of right now? That list might feel endless right now, but it certainly includes the pandemic, the quarantine, and the economy. Those aren’t exactly small details, but worrying over them endlessly will not serve you well.
Reshift your focus. You can control your habits, your routine, your energy, and your attitude. You can control the way you speak to your colleagues and loved ones and the way you consume news right now.
If you feel the need, set a ‘worrying hour’ in your day, and designate that time to check the news, ruminate and fret. After that time is up, do your best to put those feelings aside to compartmentalize and focus on what is in your control. Try to avoid dumping your feelings on your partner; even if they feel like your entire social system right now, they are still only one person.
Have an “emotional thermometer” where you rate your emotions from one to 10: one being serene, and 10 being extremely stressed. Focus on bringing your “emotional temperature down” to a healthy range below 6, so you can stay healthy and able to make good decisions. This simple exercise will help you keep your emotions in check throughout the day.
Move Forward as a Team
Take it from Alejandro and Margarita; the only way to get through difficult situations is by taking care of your mental health, setting boundaries, and offering support to your loved ones.
If you want to hear more from Alejandro and Margarita, they’ll be hosting a webinar May 7th, where they will share their secrets to adapting and thriving right now. Lock in your spot here.
Daily Success Checklist For Working From Home With Your Partner
All of this can be difficult to put into practice, so that’s why we’ve created a resource to help you stay grounded.
Download this checklist to prioritize your partner!