The coronavirus, COVID-19, which originally started in Wuhan, China has spread to the rest of the world, including the United States. In an effort to get ahead of the virus and prevent it from spreading, many people are being asked to work at home to prevent group gatherings. Even if you’re not being asked to work from home, more and more cities and states are opting to close schools to help contain the spread. This means that no matter who you are, if you have the ability to do so, you may find yourself working from home for an unspecified amount of time.
Working from home has many benefits but also comes with it’s fair share of dilemmas as well. These dilemmas become even greater if you end up working from home while your kids are also there. While it won’t be easy, it can be done and these 5 tips will help you to succeed!
1. Make sure you’re properly set up - If you’re not used to working from home, you may not have everything that you need. That means that you’ll need to take inventory of everything that you use during the day and to the best of your ability, have it all ready and installed before you start working from home. These tools are going to be different for everyone because everyone has a different job that they perform. If your job mostly involves talking on the phone, then you’ll need to have a phone and consider whether or not your cell phone or home phone is good enough or if you need a new line. If your job requires a lot of paperwork, then you may need a printer. If you have meetings all day long, you’ll need to make sure that you have a tool that allows you to connect with people remotely like Skype and if your job requires constant communication with your co-workers that you have something like Slack that allows you to do so.
2. Set working times and tasks ahead of time - One of the hardest things about working from home is that you are entirely in charge of your productivity. No boss starting over your shoulder may seem like a dream, but it can be very easy to spend a lot of time on things that have nothing to do with your job. Because you are 100% responsible for your schedule, you need to take great care in organizing it. Organizing your day includes time blocking and setting tasks that you want to accomplish. The more detailed you are in setting your schedule, the more success you’ll have when you get off track.
3. Minimize distractions - Distractions at home are normal but can be even greater if you’re not used to working from home. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of loading the dishwasher or going grocery shopping during the day to try to catch up on your housework. Unless something is an absolute emergency, try to stick to your working hours as much as possible and don’t treat them any differently just because you’re at home. Failing to do so may mean that your house is in better shape than normal, but that your work gets neglected and you end up working at night or on weekends to make up for that lost time.
4. You don’t have to entertain your kids - If your kids end up at home, they may have the expectation that you’re going to cater to their every whim and entertain them because that’s what they’re used to you doing on the weekend. Have a conversation with them before you start working from home to let them know that this isn’t the case. If your kids are school age, try to find resources and tools that will help them to learn so that they are also busy and so that they don’t start to think that this is summer vacation. Even more important than the talk though is how you implement it. If you tell your kids that you won’t be at their beck and call, but your actions show that you will be, they’ll pay attention to what you do over what you say. This becomes more difficult if you have a non-school aged child but can still be done and is great for encouraging self play. You may also just have to work in shorter increments of time and maximize working during naps and after bedtime.
5. Be Flexible - As much planning as you put into this, there will be times or maybe even whole days where nothing goes as planned. In these cases, prioritize what absolutely needs to be done and be flexible around doing the rest. If something can be put off a few hours, until the evening or even the next day, rather than get frazzled when your schedule is off, just be flexible. The more you’re able to be flexible when an emergency happens or you’re absolutely needed by one of your kids, the better you’ll be at staying cool, calm and collected during this entire process.
Read Next: How To Protect Your Kids Against Coronavirus