Working from home has become a standard for many throughout, and following the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether it’s in a home office, the occasional work-from-home day, or even working from coffee shops, many people have had to learn and discover the best ways to function in a work-from home environment. While in many ways it can be more convenient and contribute to a balancing of work and life, working from home also comes with its challenges, especially for parents.
Staying productive is crucial to any work-from-home employee, and doing so as a parent can be difficult. Here are five productivity hacks for parents working from home.
1. Know Your Schedule
The unexpected is one of the easiest ways for parents, and anyone working from home to rapidly lose their productive ability. Whether it be a sudden need, a last-minute change, or a loss of time at the end of the day, time can be a killer of productivity.
“Working from home has the potential to cause a number of distractions for parents, a lack of control over their time being one of them. It is important that work-from-home parents gain intentional control over their scheduling in order to balance work with their parental duties.” – Justin Soleimani, Co-Founder, Tumble
Building an intentional, and well planned schedule as a work from home mom can be the difference between high and low stress levels. Spend time understanding your children’s scheduling needs (such as school drop-off, pick-up, clubs, events, social needs), and plan your work time around them. Waking up earlier may be a need in order to get started on your work. Schedule meetings for when your kids are at school.
During the summer, establish intentional work-time and communicate this with your family.
Additionally, communicate with your employer what your scheduling needs are for your children to ensure there are no scheduling discrepancies.
2. Intentional Space
Build an intentional workspace. Whether you are a parent or not, the space that you work in can have a massive impact on your productivity. While many people work well in different spaces (some prefer a more cluttered space, others prefer intense organization), having a space that suits you best is important to your success working from home.
“Where you work affects how you work. If your brain is too busy focusing on the space surrounding you to be productive, you need to move to a different area or build a better office space for yourself.” – Jim Marggraff, CEO, Kinoo
Workspace can be affected by everything from what type of desk you use, your chair, your digital workspace, to what type of room you utilize. Understanding how your brain functions and what workspace is best for your productivity can help you best create a positive environment for you to focus.
Create a working location that is intentionally for work. If you don’t have an extra room, you can still create a segment or area that is dedicated purely to work. This allows you to program your brain to shift into a work focus when you are in this space. Communicate with your children and family the purpose behind this space, such that they are aware that when you are utilizing it you are in “work mode.”
Spend time tailoring this space to your needs, and finding ways to assist your focus.
Another option is to find an external workspace, or even a coffee shop in which you feel productive and focused, and to work here. So long as you are intentional through the selection and work process, you will be able to train your brain to be more productive in these intentional environments.
3. Personal Time
One of the most important factors of being productive is having time to recharge, stay healthy, and do what makes you happy.
As a parent working from home, it can be easy to lose sight of the line between work, family, and play. Finding time each day to take care of your mental and physical health will not only improve your productivity in the workplace, but will help you function more efficiently and benevolently as a parent as well.
This practice goes in-turn with understanding your schedule, but is more intentional regarding utilizing, or creating time that is dedicated to your health. This may mean waking up earlier to do a small workout, or scheduling time during the week to be with your significant other or friends. It can also be intentional time for hobbies, rest, or meditation.
“It’s difficult to be productive when your glass is always near empty. Finding time to not only rest and refill your mind, but maintain your physical health can improve productivity drastically, and in many ways make it easier to get through the work day.” – Liza Kirsh, CMO, Dymapak
As always, communicate the purpose of this time with your family. This way nobody feels neglected, and you avoid creating distress by being in a separate headspace during these periods.
4. Delineate Family and Work
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We’ve all heard the old proverb, whether written in a coffee table book, or seen in Stephen King’s The Shining. While working from home most likely won’t lead you to taking an ax to the bathroom door, failure to separate work from your familiar life can have a negative effect on your life satisfaction and your productivity. For this reason, it is crucial to separate your work, and time with your family.
“A common mistake made in the work-from-home environment is to allow work to seep into personal life. When there is no boundary between these things, work can easily feel like it is something that is always happening. Conversely, those surrounding you—especially your children—may feel like their parents are always working, allowing for neglect and resentment to seep into the family environment.” – Phillip Montalvo, Director of Marketing, Azuna
Take the step to leave work when you leave work. Communicate this with your fellow employees and leadership. It is important that when you are with your family, you are with your family. This will help you avoid any workplace resentment, or struggle through familial balance while attempting to be productive.
5. Eat Well
This may seem like an unexpected focus for a work-from-home parent, but how and when you fuel your body and brain can have an immense effect on your productivity.
Don’t start your work on an empty stomach, and don’t forget about meal times. Find foods that make you feel healthy, and contribute to your overall happiness. Avoid eating high-sugar foods around the middle of the day, as they can cause crashes, and don’t over-caffeinate.
“What we put in our bodies affects more than our physical health, but our mental health as well. It’s important to eat foods that stimulate our brains and help us focus, rather than tire us out. While these are nuanced, it’s important to understand nutritional staples to stay effective in the workplace.” – Sumeer Kaur, CEO, Lashkaraa
Maintain a diet that focuses on lean proteins, healthy fats, and fibers. Especially if you are working from a desk, this can help you maintain a quality gut biome, and keep your brain stimulated, leading to a more effective, productive, and happy work day.
Find Your Own Hacks!
While these are our productivity hacks, there are always more nuanced opportunities for you to create your own! Experiment with your work day, communicate with your family and workplace, and search for the best ways to build habits and environments that support productivity and work-life balance. Everyone is unique, and there are always more ways to boost your personal productivity from home.