Between the increase in flex-time at companies and a surge in the number of newly unemployed people setting themselves up as independent contractors, it’s never been easier to work from home. This can be especially appealing for parents, who are hoping to strike the right balance between work and childcare. Unfortunately, the reality of working from home can easily intrude on your grand vision of interrupted hours of productivity followed by calm lunches with your child. If you work from home and you’re looking to keep things sane, keep these tips in mind.
1. Create a routine and stick to it (within reason)—This doesn’t necessarily mean working 9-5. One of the great benefits of working from home is setting your own hours. However, it’s still a good idea to have set “work hours.”
The key here is to be realistic. You don’t need to commit yourself to a strenuous work schedule you can’t keep and only frustrate yourself in trying. When it comes to working at home, working smarter means working when your body and your parenting commitments are addressed.
2. Set boundaries—Working from home can save you the interruptions from noisy co-workers and pointless meetings. However, it brings a new set of distractions, including noisy children and neighbors who stop by and may not understand the at-home work environment. It’s even possible your partner may ask you to perform extra tasks because you’ll be “at home.”
You must set boundaries with your partner and children and enforce them whenever possible. From creating a sign that reads “Mom/Dad at Work” to asking your partner to keep from texting or calling unless it is an urgent matter, boundaries can and will help.
3. Change the scenery—Because it can be tempting to finish chores or do other jobs around the house, it is important to embrace a change of scenery every once in a while. If you feel stuck in a rut, take your child out for a quick trip to regroup. Avoid distracting spots like a park or mall—these can work against your productivity.
4. Be fair to yourself—One of the problems with working at home is not working enough but working too much. The lines can blur between office and home, and you may feel compelled to send one more e-mail or finish one more task on the to-do list. While these things have to happen sometimes, they can often wait. Prioritize. Ask yourself what tasks really must be completed “this minute” and what can truly wait while you spend some quality time with your family.
Reviewed by Dr. Eva Benmeleh, September 2020
- Work-at-home parents are on the rise, but they experience their own challenges in productivity and concentration.
- Setting boundaries between a work and home life are important.
- Working parents must emphasize the importance of a quiet and private space to work.