Working from home is not all it’s cracked up to be sometimes – while you have bosses looking over your shoulder in the office and seemingly unnecessary meetings, you might have different distractions at home – especially if you have kids around.
Short of trying to laugh if off if your child wanders into the room during a video conference like this guy, there are some other ways you can be productive while also letting your kids be active indoors. Here are some tips to still meet your deadlines with little ones at home…
Make Best Use of Naptime
If your kids are still at the age where they like a nap during the day, use that time to do the work that requires the most focus, suggests Parents. If you know roughly how long your kid usually naps, then you’ll know in advance how much time you’ll have to tackle the tougher projects.
The source also notes that aside from doing focused work, you can also use this time to make any business-related calls (so you don’t get a barrage of questions from junior while talking to your boss). Maybe move the conversation away from their sleepy-time room as not to wake them, while still being close enough to hear if they fuss.
Push Some Work To The Evening
If you’re able to, you can create a schedule that leaves a gap to engage your youngsters when they’re at their most playful. That could mean taking them outside for a walk or playing in the yard to help them burn off that youthful energy.
The work you defer can be picked up in the evening, when the little one has gone to bed. But you have to ask yourself ahead of time before using this method whether you’re OK with working after dinner, or if you’d rather save that time for your favorite shows.
Be Up Front About It
Working from home can be a big challenge, and it can throw curveballs at you (like for example if you kid falls and skins their knee in the yard). You may be especially tired, or finding it difficult to meet a particular deadline from distractions.
CNBC says to be transparent with your employer about the fact you’re also catering to your kids and that they might make an appearance. In this case, instead of trying to calmly continue conversing while your kid tugs at your shirt, you can tell your coworkers ahead of time you’ll get right back to them if there’s a disruption, it suggests.
Set Limits With Your Kids
It’s tough to deny a kid when they have a question or want to play, but you have to set some boundaries, notes CNBC. That means you should tell your kid when you’re off-limits and in “do not disturb mode,” it adds. Be clear with your kids that you’re also working (just like you’re telling your work colleagues that you’re also busy with kids).
To help facilitate this somewhat daunting task, you could even use a sign on the door with a thumbs up or down indicating when you’re available, it adds. (Obviously, if it’s a real emergency, then you should probably make an exception).
Set Up Virtual Playdates
Keeping your children occupied and engaged can go a long way to get things done. If your child can’t physically play with another child in the same space, they can still have a “face-to-face” meeting thanks to technology.
Video chats have become popular as a way for people to do business, especially in recent times, but they are very useful for social calls too. Use a video chat app that’s safe for kids, and let them talk, build Lego or draw together while digitally connected. It’s probably wise to check in on them once in a while too (especially when they get quiet).
Try The ‘Pomodoro Technique’
You may never heard of this time-management approach before, but now you have (you’re welcome). This technique, invented in the early 1990s by an entrepreneur/author, basically breaks large tasks down into smaller intervals called Pomodoros (apparently named after the tomato-shaped timer the inventor used during his university days).
Lifehacker.com explains that to use this technique, you only need a timer (it doesn’t have to be tomato-shaped, either). You set the timer to 25-minutes, work away until it dings, “put a check on your sheet of paper,” take a 5-minute break, and then repeat. Every 4-cycles you should take a longer break (where you can play a quick game with your kid), it adds.
Take a Lunch
It’s easy for your mid-day break to go awry, especially when you don’t have the cue of other employees heading to the lunchroom (although your kids might remind you by telling you they’re hungry). But while you can structure your day differently when you work from home, you shouldn’t deny yourself a lunch break, explains CNBC.
The source cites a study that shows 90-percent of workers feel more refreshed after taking a lunch break, and by skipping a regular break you could be putting your health and productivity at risk. Aside from lunch for an hour or so, you should also give yourself 10-minutes off for every hour spent on a task for a snack or to “say hi to your kids,” it adds.
Using Art As a Babysitter
What kid doesn’t love to doodle and paint? Well, hopefully not yours. Art projects are a great way to keep your kids occupied while stimulating their imagination, and they won’t cost you a lot of money. (Here are some unique ideas from Good Housekeeping.)
VeryWell Family says that aside from letting your child get lost in their art, they can also be responsible for the setup and cleanup. Keeping it simple is key – do any cutting involved in advance for younger kids, it adds. Of course, while drawing or painting can keep a kid very quiet, you might want to check on them periodically to ensure they’re not using the kitchen wall as a canvas.
Alternate Working Hours With Your Partner
If you have a live-in partner, then coordinating with them about your work schedules is useful as they might be working from home too, says CNBC. The source suggests alternating shifts in this case is handy.
For example, in the morning one partner can take care of making breakfast and getting the kids fed, while the other gets some work done, and vice versa. You can alternate who is working and who is taking care of the other stuff throughout the day (such as cleaning up toys to avoid doing it later when you can catch up on work), it adds.