How to Be Productive Working from Home as a Parent

It can be challenging, but possible.

By LightField Studios/Shutterstock
By LightField Studios/Shutterstock

While many people initially saw the coronavirus as a health challenge limited to one region, it is quickly taking form as a major threat to the world economy. The disease has now affected nearly 100 countries and experts believe a recession could be on the horizon.

Glassdoor research tracking employee and employer reaction to the coronavirus highlights some trends:

  • Job interviews are being delayed and canceled due to the coronavirus.
  • Employment is being delayed and canceled due to the coronavirus.
  • Jobs and salary cuts are already taking place due to the coronavirus.
  • Forward-thinking companies taking proactive measures by offering staff the option to work from home.

As more companies start to move towards the route of allowing employees to work from home while the coronavirus is being addressed, a major issue arises: how do you ensure peak productivity while working from home particularly as a parent? Below are some ideas:

1. Maximize Your Early Mornings and Late Nights

Depending on the nature of your work, and if it is allowed, one of your best productivity hacks as a parent working from home could be to take advantage of the wee hours of the day.

If your home is like the average home, your children would most likely be asleep late at night after a very stressful day and well into the morning. This means you should have time to yourself from around 9 – 10PM at night till about 7AM in the morning.

You can rearrange your schedule to allow you to work late at night for about two hours and early in the morning for about two hours as well.

Since this reorganized schedule could cut into your sleep a bit, you should also consider taking regular afternoon naps.

2. Take Advantage of Productivity Apps and Tools

One of the biggest mistakes work from home parents tend to make is assuming that they can be productive by relying on their discipline and ability to naturally remember and flow into the next tasks at hand. Don’t make this mistake.

You might have good intentions but there is an overabundance of distractions to ensure you get nothing.

Thankfully, there are tools, apps, and resources you can use to ensure you’re productive while working from home. Take advantage of these tools.

Some productivity apps and tools you might want to use include:

  • Evernote to help you organize tasks and keep track of your activities.
  • Todoist to help create tasks and todos and help you know which to prioritize using artificial intelligence.
  • Slack to help you collaborate with your team members and other people you’re working with all in one place without distractions that negatively impact your productivity.

There are many more productivity apps and tools you can use. Here’s an overview of the best productivity apps you can take advantage of as a work from home parent.

3. Carve Out Your Workspace and Have it Optimized for Productivity

You should also prepare for the psychological response of your kids to seeing mommy or daddy at home all day. 

All their life they’ve been conditioned to believe that you’re working when you go to the office and that you are free when you are at home. It’ll take some getting used to before they realize that your being at home this time around is more for work-related purpose than it is for play.

Firstly, carve out your workspace in your home and make the kids realize that whenever you’re there you’re most likely working. It could be the spare room, a portion of your room, or anywhere else, but it is important that it is carved out and different. Put your desk there and all other relevant work items and make it completely off-limits to everyone at home besides yourself.

Once your workspace has been carved out, make sure that your kids know to not play around it, and constantly send the message to them that when you’re there you’re at work and don’t want to be disturbed.

Secondly, besides making your kids realize that you’re at work whenever you are at your workspace, you should also optimize your workspace for productivity. You can do so many things to ensure your workspace is optimized for productivity:

  • Always dress corporately whenever you’re heading over to your workspace and avoid doing anything of a personal and leisurely nature there. This creates a psychological impression of your workspace being purely for work.
  • If possible, make sure there is as much natural light as possible coming into your workspace. Several studies have made a connection between the lighting of a working environment and workers’ productivity.
  • Try to ensure warm and optimal temperature for your work environment. A Cornell study found a positive correlation between office temperature and productivity; a warm office could practically double your productivity while a chilly office could cut it in half.
  • Pay special attention to the ergonomics of your workspace; things like ergonomic chairs and desks, footrests, and proper positioning of your computer and screen can go a long way to make you a lot more productive.

4. Keep the Kids Busy

This is where toys, gadgets, and friends come in.

Kids have much shorter attention spans than adults and, in instances like this, an overabundance of time. They also get bored really quickly. If there isn’t enough to keep their attention engaged, they’ll certainly have a lot more time for mommy or daddy.

The solution in this instance is to introduce as many interesting things as you can to keep them busy; this could be in the form of toys, gadgets, educational assignments and friends coming in.

5. Create Structure and Schedule for the Kids

We tend to believe that kids are naturally unstructured and prefer to be that way, but research shows quite the opposite. In fact, psychologists have found that kids prefer to have structure to having warmth from their parents.

Make it clear to your kids what the new reality is and why you’re working from home, then set clear rules about what they have to do daily and when. While it’ll take some time to get used to, and it will require some reinforcement, it is important to be firm about adhering to this new schedule.

Originally published on Glassdoor.

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