All across social media and the news, we’ve seen memes, GIFs, and real-life photos of busy moms and business owners trying to work from home with kids, trying to juggle the demands of a busy career with the full-time needs of their children.
Whether working from home with your kids is new to you, or whether you’re a seasoned “mompreneur” that’s used to the nap time hustle and late-night working sessions, try these 4 easy-to-implement productivity hacks that will help you increase productivity and keep your sanity when you work from home with kids.
Know when you're working and when you're parenting. Try not to mix the two as much as possible. By adding structure to your day, and being very intentional with your time, you can help protect your work windows and get things done in less time.
There are typically three blocks of work time that you can choose from – pick the ones that work for you, or shoot for all three!
Morning Work Time: Depending on the ages of your kids, one of the best times to get work done is before they wake up. I know getting up at 5 am isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but hear me out. In the evening before you go to bed, pick ONE thing you NEED to get done the following day. During this early work window – once you’ve made your coffee – dive straight into that one thing, and get it done. When the rest of the house starts to wake up, you can relax a bit more, knowing the most pressing thing is already done.
Mid-Day Work Time: Schedule your kids’ nap times or quiet times at the same time every day, giving you a predictable window of time where you can take calls, go live on social media, or get back to your task list. You already completed the most pressing task for the day, so this block of time can be for meetings, calls/training sessions, emails, or anything else that needs to get done.
Evening Work Time: Depending on your workload and how much you got done earlier in the day, this is a window of time you can use to finish up the rest of your to-do list, and prioritize your task list for the following day. Pick the one task you’re going to tackle the following morning, as well as the top 5 or so tasks for the rest of your day.
If you’re currently homeschooling, this structure applies too! Decide which windows are going to be for school. Map out where you’ll be needed to help your kids, versus when you can set them up with an independent activity, and have a bit of time to yourself. Mapping out each day will help you maximize work time, playtime, and school time, and create a well-oiled machine at home.
TRY TIME BLOCKING
In addition to structuring your day, structure your work time as well. How? Time blocking. When you are about to start a task, estimate how long it should take you to complete, then set a timer for that amount of time. If it goes off and you haven’t finished, you can always continue working on it – but there’s something about knowing a clock is counting down that keeps you on task and focused.
Repeat this for each task, for your entire work period, and watch how much more you get done! You will be able to move through your must-do tasks much faster, and will be less tempted to get distracted with social media or emails.
Time blocking really helps you stay focused, attentive to what you’re working on, and productive. It's an amazing tool if you work from home with kids.
Although we all love to multi-task, mixing parenting and working throughout the day puts you on the fast-track to overwhelm and frustration. The best way to avoid that is to commit to whatever is in front of you. When it’s work time – work. No phones, social media (unless work-related posts), television, or distractions of any kind. This is your window to be in work mode, and you need to protect it! Do your best to put everything else away, and focus on the few things you have decided to get done during that work session.
When it’s “mom time” – be present with your kids. Don’t spend it scrolling social media, or trying to email back clients or customers, unless it’s something that absolutely can’t wait. When you dedicate your mom time to your kids and being present 100%, you won’t feel that out of control panic where you’re trying to do too many things at once, or your toddler wants to play on your phone, etc. You will have gotten the essentials done during your morning and mid-day work sessions, and can freely spend time with your family, knowing you have your evening work session to finish up whatever did not get done earlier in the day.
When you have built-in work windows, you aren’t stressing about when you are going to have time to work – you already have your set windows, so there’s no need to feel anxious. (And if you are struggling with WFH anxiety, try these Tips!)
ASK FOR HELP
If you’re married and your spouse is home at predictable times (or working from home right now), have a discussion about when he/she may be able to handle dinner or evening playtime, giving you another small window to fit in a few calls or training. With many people working from home right now, you and your spouse may be able to work out a schedule that gives you additional kid-free time throughout the day as well. Be respectful of each other’s work obligations, schedules, and demands so as to avoid tension or feelings of resentment, but see if you can work out a schedule that allows both parents ample work time and parent time, without getting anyone in trouble with their boss.
Have any work from home MUSTS, or success stories of women who work from home with kids? Share them in the comments below!
Christy Westerfeld, Esq. is an attorney and legal resource for online entrepreneurs and coaches. She helps savvy business women cut through the confusion and overwhelm of legal and create an easy and affordable plan of action to legally protect their businesses. While legal may not be #1 on your list of exciting topics, understanding the basics is VITAL to your success as an entrepreneur, and Christy will help you learn what you need to know, in a way that is easy to understand! When she isn’t working, you’ll find Christy chasing after her toddler, binge-watching “Suits,” or signing up for the latest beach city half marathon.