5 Habits for Working from Home Around Kids
The days of commuting to work are numbered and the days of working from home are on the rise. It sounds wonderful to be able to work without the distractions of coworkers, spend your time how you feel is most valuable to the company, and get to skip the tradition of commuting.
To balance out those perks are some major negatives, especially if you have children. You see, children have a hard time understanding that you are working from home. All they see is a parent at home, who’s job is to feed, change, play, clean up after, and take care of them. So they burst into your home office and demand your attention, attention that needs to be on your work.
So what do you do? How do you reclaim your work hours while staying in the comfort of your home?
1. Get Up Early
You may not feel the need to get up early since your commute to work is the distance to your computer, but do. Get up as early as you possibly can, especially before your children wake up. That quiet time, without children, will become your most effective time of the day. Having that peace while working will help you focus your creativity into your work and finish up harder tasks.
Some days, you may even feel like you will get more work done during the hour or two before they wake up than you do the rest of the day. So set that alarm nice and early!
2. Use Interruptions as Breaks
No matter how well behaved your children are and how hard your spouse works, you will be interrupted. It may come from a child missing their parent or your spouse needing help because your oldest child just threw up all over the kitchen floor and the baby is rolling around in it. (Isn’t parenthood grand?)
So instead of ignoring the interruption or treating it like a distraction from your work, treat it like a mental break. Take time to address to interruption and not stress about returning to work immediately. Some may prefer to use their breaks to scroll through the internet or watch some TV, but getting up and moving will get your blood pumping and help wake up your brain.
Taking a mental break is proven to help productivity and creativity in the workplace, and working from home is included. Just remember to keep track of your breaks and return to work after a good amount, like 10-15 minutes.
3. Act Like You’re Going to Work
Everybody has a morning routine before getting in their car and driving to work. This routine helps your brain set up for the work day and gives you time to warm up. When you choose to work from home, continue with this routine. Get up, take a shower, dress professionally, grab some breakfast and coffee, etc. Skip the warm blankie, lounging on the couch and hitting the snooze button. That way, you body and mind are expecting a normal work day instead of a lazy weekend in your pajamas.
When you sit down to work, act like it. As tempting as it is, don’t turn on the tv or other distractions you don’t have at work. Try to block out outside noises with soft music or a noise machine. Create an atmosphere similar to a traditional workplace and stick to it. Don’t answer non-work related phone calls and don’t answer the door. These are undue distractions to your process.
4. Take Advantage of Online Tools
One of the biggest downsides to working from home is not being able to collaborate with peers. You miss out on brainstorming, making connections, and just being there physically.
Luckily, we live in a day of technology filled with ways to fix this problem. Be part of the conversation with chat programs and collaboration tools. Run digital meetings from your computer. Work together on projects in real time.
The other benefit of these tools is that if you have to step away, you can jump right back into the conversation. You can leave a chat for a few minutes and nobody notices. You leave a phone call or talking with a coworker in person randomly for a few minutes and everybody thinks you’re rude.
5. Create a “Traffic Light” System
One effective way to control distractions at the home office is to create a “Red Light, Green Light:” system. Hang a sign over your work space that indicates your availability, with different signals representing expected behavior. Red light might mean a need for silence, yellow for go ahead and play but don’t interrupt, and green means you’re open to interruptions.
This way, you can communicate your needs with your children without actually needing to talk with them and risk being drawn into longer interruptions.
Separating Work From Home
One big danger of working from home is overworking and ignoring home life. There is no physical clock or coworkers packing up to remind you to go home. Transitioning from work life to home life can get messy with a home office. You may think “just one more thing and then I’ll be done” but that mentality will lead you to working longer hours and missing out on important family moments.
Set a firm time to end your work day, power down the computer and rejoin your family. Remember that one of the best benefits of working from home is skipping the commute to spend time with your children, so do it! Enjoy your downtime and get back to work in the morning.
About the Author:
Ben Allen is a freelance writer and a recent father. In between writing and spending time with his baby girl, he enjoys playing video games and reading fantasy novels. Follow him on Twitter @allen24ben.