But we all know the other side of working from home – the side where you get easily distracted by family members, household chores, your barking dogs, and more. Seeing as many experts don’t see this WFH setup going anywhere soon, I thought it might be nice to share some tips on how I maximize productivity while managing two businesses from a very full house.
First thing first, you have to approach time management with intention. Whether you’re home alone or you’re surrounded by littles, it can be challenging to let go of everyday household distractions. Maybe you see things in the garden that need tending or a stack of dirty dishes that need to be cleaned. Whatever it is, it’s disturbing your focus and making it more difficult to check things off your list.
I find that the best way to stay on task and “in the zone” is to develop (and adhere) to a schedule. One of the benefits of working from home is that you more or less get to make your own hours. Determine which hours out of a day are the hours when you feel most engaged and creative, and designate those as work hours. If you’re working from home with children, this can be a bit more difficult as you’re definitely going to need to factor in their schedules. But it’s not impossible! I schedule all of my Zoom meetings and important calls during my kids’ nap times and it (almost) always works like a charm!
Prioritize Your Tasks
Now that you’ve determined your most productive working hours, it’s time to prioritize. Whether you put your to-do list on a white board, a scrap of paper taped to your computer, or you’re super organized with a bullet journal or some fancy app, the key here is that you list out your tasks and rank those tasks in order of importance.
What are the things that are most important to achieve today? What’s most time-sensitive? Is there anything on your list that could wait? I also find it helpful to estimate the amount of time each task will take – I know that I need to reserve hour long breaks I have during nap time for time-intensive tasks that require my undivided attention, but I can likely squeeze in a few ten-minute tasks between Zoom calls and quality time with my kids. Rank your list each day and tackle them accordingly!
Carve Out Productive Space
When possible, it’s important to create a space within your home that sends you a mental signal that it’s time to get productive. If you don’t have a home office, reserve a corner of your dining table or set up a table and chair in a quiet room where you can dig in to your tasks at hand with ease. Avoid working from your couch, bed, or the kids’ playroom when possible to maintain boundaries (yup, that tip’s coming up next) and this will help your brain differentiate when it’s time to get to work and when it’s time to kick back and relax.
Set Boundaries (For Yourself and Others)
Working from home may be thrilling at first but, as time goes on, many people begin to feel as though they can’t fully disconnect from the tasks at hand. Obviously, having an office space carved out away from your primary living areas as mentioned above is ideal, but not everyone has that luxury. Your computer constantly beckons and you continue telling yourself that you’ll only answer one more email…
We’ve all been there at least once throughout the pandemic and it generally ends in mental burnout. Nobody can be “on” all of the time and nobody expects you to be. It’s essential that we manage expectations with our employers, our colleagues, and with our family members…but it’s also essential that we manage expectations within. Whether it’s setting a non-negotiable cutoff time, setting your phone aside for a certain period of time each day, or taking daily breaks to go on a walk or practice yoga, these activities are a method of self care essential to continued productivity.
Reward Yourself For a Job Well Done
Lastly, we all need to take time out each week to reward ourselves for the work we’re doing. None of this is easy but we’re giving it our absolute best. Consider using your prioritized task list to set benchmarks for the day and then reward yourself when you meet your goals. That reward might be stepping away to enjoy an afternoon tea, diving in to your latest novel for 10 – 20 minutes, or jumping on a quick call with a friend. Achieving manageable benchmarks and treating yourself to daily mental breaks can keep you motivated to keep up the hard work day in and day out.