The benefits of working from home as a parent are clear. You can spend more time with your children, set your own schedule and dodge a work commute that might include waiting in traffic to get there. While these advantages give you more flexibility and can allow you to spend more time with your children, you still might need to put some ground rules in place first.
1. Set boundaries for work.
Putting parameters in place is key when you choose to work from home especially if there are people (including kids) there while you are working. Writer and Author, Kimberly Palmer of Smart Mom, Rich Mom suggests creating your own space for work within your space. She adds, “If you are launching a business from home, then you’ll want to have your own dedicated space to work on it, even if it’s a desk in the corner of the playroom. (That happens to be my own setup for my writing.)” Palmer also emphasizes setting boundaries about where and when you’ll work and points out that setting these expectations can make it easier for the other members to know your schedule. This will allow you be productive during your work time.
2. Determine the best time to get things done.
I happen to be a morning person which works out well since I need quiet when to work at my best. It also doesn’t hurt that most of the members of my household are sleeping when I get up at the crack of dawn. I won’t get interrupted to sign a field trip slip or find a missing uniform. At this time, I like to write or do any other work that is attached to an upcoming deadline. This way I can ensure that I will complete everything by a set time and date.
I can get other tasks that don’t require as much concentration like sorting, organizing or sending simple emails even if there’s some background noise later in the day. While I like to outsource laundry and other chores, I can put clothes away or straighten up right before I call it quits while listening to a podcast that my client appeared on. Figure out what time of day is best for completing different tasks.
3. Use apps to free up mental bandwidth.
As a work-at-home parent, you might have to switch gears throughout your day. You may have a block of time to work and then you have to stop to drop your child off at daycare or a music lesson. It can be hard to jump right back into work mode afterwards. For this reason, I keep a list digitally of everything I need to do for a project. I’ve heard great things about apps like Wunderlist, ToDoist and Any.Do. They can all help you better remember what you need to finish.
I started using Asana. Though it’s meant for team tasks and conversations, I find it works well for leaving notes to myself. It’s a digital way to store detailed to do lists for various projects all in one spot to better organize your work and manage projects more effectively. You can also assign tasks to other people as well and add deadlines. It makes it so much easier to delegate tasks without having to overly explain everything or go back and forth texting random details if important information is already stored there.
I find that I don’t have to take time to remember exactly where I left off or what I need to do next because a series of lists are at my fingertips to keep me on track. There are other apps like Due that can help with different aspects of productivity and help you track work that you have to bill as well as other expenses all in one spot. Look into any other apps that can help you work smarter.
The Bottom Line
Pinpoint what is needed to work optimally from home. Figure out what time of day is most conducive to being productive, be sure to set clear guidelines to get work done while other family members are home and use any digital apps whenever possible to work efficiently and remember what needs to get done.