The coronavirus pandemic has left many people struggling with the sudden shift to remote work.
For parents, productivity has likely taken a major hit, especially for those who have chosen to pull their children out of school.
But getting work done – at home – isn’t impossible with a few tricks up your sleeve.
we asked a few experts, all of whom are parents, on how you can stay focused on work even with your children around:
1. Keep your manager in the loop
On top of your normal job, being a parent is a full-time job in and of itself, so you might need to make special arrangements to accommodate for both your roles.
“This is a good opportunity to discuss altered working schedules to support working from home and also your parental duties,” Indeed career insights Jay Munro told Yahoo Finance.
“Perhaps it means shifting your start time to earlier in the day, having a block of time in the middle where you are focused on the children, and then restarting the second half of your workday a little later.”
2. Readjust your sleeping schedule
Naturally, your children will demand your time and attention – and have no regard for 9-5 business hours. If you want to get work done, digital marketing agency King Kong founder Sabri Suby has one solution, though it may not be for everyone: waking up hours before the children do.
“You can get a huge amount of work done in the morning before the rest of the world is awake,” he said.
“If you go to bed at the same time and expect to just wake up earlier, that’s going to be a recipe for disaster, because your energy levels will be really low. So go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, create that time.”
3. Create a family calendar
If you have a partner-in-crime who helps take care of the kids, split the duties and figure out who will do what, Munro added.
But then you can go a step further: create a schedule for the whole family, so everyone is on the same page.
“Grab a whiteboard marker and put it on the fridge or a large piece of paper on the wall. Agree together when is ‘work’ time and when is ‘play’ time,” productivity expert Donna McGeorge told Yahoo Finance.
4. The kids make the rules
When designating ‘work’ and ‘play’ or ‘family’ time, don’t make up the roles: let the kids come up with them.
“They will be more likely to hold themselves accountable to it than if you impose roles on them,” McGeorge said.
You might need to draw boundaries in quirky ways. “When mum or dad is on an important work call, they will be wearing a hat. You cannot interrupt them when they are wearing the hat.”
But what if someone breaks that rule? Let your children decide what those consequences will be.
5. Draw boundaries, and then be consistent
Juggling work and children at the same time is a challenge when the two get in the way of each other – so the solution to this is to define the lines.
“I start and finish work at a specific time and I have very clearly defined boundaries for work,
recreational and family time,” said Suby.
But you need to make those boundaries very clearly known to your family.
“You can’t be effective if you’re constantly being interrupted, so make sure those around you know when it’s ‘deep work’ time, and when it’s okay to ask a question or have a chat.”
Too many employees new to remote work find their whole day becoming a big blur, Suby added, so create designated times for when you work, but also when you exercise, play with the kids, and even eat your meals.
“We will get up at the same time as we used to when going to school, have breakfast, talk with each other over the meal table. Have your meals the same time every day,” McGeorge said.
“As a parent, one of the biggest things I found to be useful was consistency. We only ever got into “trouble” parenting when we were inconsistent with our messaging, actions or dare I say it, punishments.”
Suby said even the time he puts his two daughters to bed at night stays consistent.
“Make sure you place these little stoppers throughout the day that ensure you’re aware of what time it is and what you’re doing.”