How to Be Productive Working from Home as a ParentAUTHOR: Noah Rue
The Coronavirus pandemic has swept the globe in ways many people couldn’t even imagine. The illness that has infected more than two million people across the globe has done much more than cause people to get sick. It has impacted the job market as well.
At the end of March 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in the U.S. climbed to 4.4%. Millions of Americans are out of a job and looking to get benefits in order to stay afloat. Some workers have been able to do their jobs remotely to practice social distancing. While being able to keep your job while working from home is a benefit not everyone gets, that doesn’t mean it comes without its challenges, especially if you’re a parent.
Being productive at home can be a challenge, even when you live alone. When you throw children into the mix, it can be even more difficult to get things done. Newborns require a lot of attention, and many school-aged children are doing online schooling and may need assistance throughout the day.
So, what can you do to accomplish your daily work goals, stay motivated, and get the job done while working from home as a parent? How can you create a structure for yourself and your children? Are there tools that can help?
Find Your Motivation
Remote work was becoming increasingly popular even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. There are many benefits to working from home. Some of the benefits include the following:
- More flexibility
- Less stress
- No commuting
- No distractions from the office
Employers often benefit from allowing their employees to work from home, too. It has even been suggested that working from home can cause employees to be more productive. Having children around can change your level of productivity very quickly, however.
The first thing you should focus on is finding your motivation. Self-motivation starts with recognizing that you are in control of your choices. While it can be tempting to sleep in, have a lazy breakfast with the kids, watch television, and then get to work, that can quickly hinder your productivity.
Instead, motivate yourself by following a routine. If you typically get up at a certain time for work, continue to get up at that time. By keeping the structure of your days consistent (for you and your children), everyone will be in a more productive mindset. Obviously, some things may need to be adjusted throughout the day, but the more you can make things feel like “normal,” the less likely it will be for you to become lax with your work.
Finding the motivation to work also requires you to understand your bad habits and what triggers them. For example, if you plan on taking a break to look at social media for five minutes, do you end up wasting an hour? If your phone is sitting by your desk, do you reach for it every few minutes and get distracted? If you come across a task you don’t want to do, do you walk to the kitchen for a snack instead of completing it? When you identify your triggers, you can eliminate some of your bad habits.
Practice Effective Communication
No matter how much you try to keep a routine, there are some things that will have to change because your kids are home. Communicating effectively with your work team can help you all to stay on the same page and complete your daily tasks while letting your co-workers and managers know when you can work and when you might need to take some time off to care for your kids.
Many businesses are holding meetings and communicating through apps:
- GoTo Meeting
- Google Hangouts
- Cisco Webex Meetings
While these programs are all great ways to stay connected with your team, they can also help you with team building and feedback. Everyone is dealing with this uncertain season of life right now, but staying in consistent communication with the people you work with can actually boost performance management. Everyone needs to work together more than ever to keep things up and running, and finding innovative and creative ways to do that can actually end up making your group stronger and more productive than ever.
Strike a Healthy Work-Life Balance
One of the most difficult things you’re bound to face as you work from home with your children is finding a work-life balance that fits your needs. Keeping on track with your daily routine is a good place to start, but, you might feel overwhelmed as you have to balance your areas of responsibility around the house. Think about all of those areas, and consider how much time you need to give to each one on a daily basis:
- Personal development
Dedicating time each day to these things can help you to feel less overwhelmed. Finding a work-life balance will also help with reducing your stress and will allow you to be more productive. It will decrease burnout and give you adequate time to spend with your family each day. If you want to improve your work-life balance, manage your time, take breaks, use your downtime effectively, and dedicate specific hours and a specific area of your home to working and nothing else.
It’s impossible to focus on work and being a parent at the exact same time. Finding that balance within your home during workdays will require you to set expectations at home that your entire family needs to be on board with. Don’t be afraid to have a conversation with your family about what you need and expect from them. Talk about your working hours and your workspace, and make it clear that during those hours, you might physically be home, but you’re actually “at work.” Despite that, you can still spend time with your kids when you take breaks, and you can have lunch with them in addition to other things. That will give you an opportunity to remain productive with your work and help them with their own needs and wants too.
Working from home and being productive as a parent isn’t always easy. It’s another aspect of adjusting to a new way of life, for now. By staying motivated and setting yourself up for success each day, you can make the process much easier on yourself while still giving your family the time and attention they need.