My wife and I got an email this past Thursday night that our kids’ schools were closing for Friday and all of this week at the minimum.
This didn’t come as a surprise, as schools all throughout the country have been closing, voluntarily or otherwise.
But that didn’t make the news much easier to absorb. We both work from home (her fully and me when I am not on-site,) and need to have the space and bandwidth to get things done.
Having our “sacred” work spaces become infiltrated by a barrage of kids’ needs, not to mention our need to mentally, if not physically, continually account for their well-being, makes it much more challenging to get things done.
How, we asked, will we stay productive with the kids home?
And, of course, we are not alone.
As COVID19 becomes more and more disruptive, many working parents, particularly those with young kids and without regular domestic help, are dealing with the added challenge of managing their workloads while providing proper care for their children.
Here are some strategies that can help working parents get through this trying period while still getting things done.
(Note: These strategies assume that you can work remotely.)
- Manage expectations – Let your boss and/or team know what’s happening and that your productivity will likely take a hit. Assure them that you intend to still get your work done but may not be as available or as consistent as usual.
- Work different hours – Start your workday before the kids get up and work again after things settle down. During the standard workday, work for select blocks of time and then take regular breaks to provide your children with more focused supervision and engagement.
- Ask coworkers to do the same – Ask team members with whom you work closely to accommodate your schedule where possible by being available at times that best suit your disrupted schedule.
- Focus intently on key tasks – Ask yourself, of all the things that you need to do, which will provide you/your team with the biggest wins and breakthroughs? Focus your available time and bandwidth most intently on those.
- Get them done first – Start your day with your biggest wins and highest impact activities to ensure that you build momentum and give others confidence that you’re still able to make meaningful contributions.
- Tell kids your availability – Let them know when you will be available for them so that they refrain from barraging you with a myriad of needs and complaints. If they know when you’ll be available, they’re likelier to “survive” until you can help them.
We’re experiencing a form of disruption that many people have never witnessed, including the Great Recession of 2008. Hopefully, with some strong planning and communication, we can work through this challenging period, wherever our work activities and personal responsibilities take us.
Naphtali Hoff, PsyD, is an executive coach who helps busy leaders be more productive so that they can scale profits with less stress and get home at a decent hour. For a free, no obligation consultation, please call 212.470.6139 or email [email protected]. Buy his leadership book, Becoming the New Boss. Download his free productivity blueprint. Take his productivity assessment.