As a parent, you fondly remember the days when you could work uninterrupted for stretches of four, five, or six (!) hours at a time. Now though, with kids at home — especially young ones — the structure of your workday and how much you can accomplish has drastically shifted.
So what can you do to get guilt-free work done at home while being present for your kids?
Five Tactics to Skyrocket Your Productivity When Working at Home with Kids
Tactic #1: Work around your kids’ schedule.
While the popular advice of a set schedule was useful once upon a time, it no longer applies as a parent of a young child.
Now your best bet is to work around your kids’ schedules, which means you can fit in work if you:
- Get up in the morning before they do
- Take advantage of nap times
- Work while they’re at school, a dance lesson or soccer practices
- Have someone watch them, like a babysitter, relative, or partner
- “Quiet Time” – These are items that require focus, concentration, and, ideally, blocks of time (see tactic #1). Items that fall into this category are content creation, strategic work, or client meetings.
- “Smart Phone” – These tasks could be done on the go, like looking through your newsfeed, commenting on social media updates of experts you follow, or brainstorming ideas for the next batch of articles.
- “Interruption Friendly” – These tasks are ones you can work on while your flash card says “red”. Your kids may interrupt or you may have to interrupt what you are doing yourself to go and check out why it got so quiet all of a sudden. 😉
- “Wine Time” – These are items that you have to do, but dread, like bookkeeping, weekly task or metric reviews, or cleaning up the mess in your inbox.
By working around the little ones’ schedules, you can be engaged when they need you and still accomplish tasks in shorter stretches of uninterrupted time.
Tactic #2: Set interruption rules.
Young children can’t understand when not to interrupt you just by looking at you. If they’re old enough to identify colors or assign meaning to pictures, you can introduce a game to help them know when they may and may not interrupt you (and hint, this works well with adults too ;]).
For example, have either a green or red flash card on your desk and explain to your kids how you’d like them to behave when they see each sign.
Finally, at all costs avoid multitasking, like, pretending that you are listening to your child while drafting an e-mail or sitting to draw with her while looking through your newsfeed on your phone.
Setting interruption rules allows you to work guilt-free, teaches your children boundaries, and lets you be fully present when you can spend time with them.
Tactic #3: Be prepared.
When you take the steps outlined above, you will no longer feel at the mercy of your circumstances.
You’ll have created blocks of time for focused work and pockets of time for work that require less concentration, so your next step is to ensure that you can take advantage of that specially carved out time.
In order to do that, assign a category for each item within your preferred task management tool so you know what conditions you need to accomplish them.
In Asana or Evernote, for example, you can use tags for this purpose. Trello, on the other hand, lets you assign labels. At the beginning of each work-sprint, run a search for a specific tag or label and you can have your list of items in a matter of seconds.
Here are some examples:
When you prepare yourself and your children for your workday, you ensure that you get the most important tasks accomplished while also making maximum use of the time you have.
Tactic #4: Take breaks.
Remember to take regular breaks. It will help the kids form the habit of not interrupting you when they shouldn’t and allow you to recharge before the next work-sprint.
These breaks will also help keep away the guilt you might be feeling non-stop when you’re working and not spending time with your child.
Tactic #5: Stop doing everything yourself.
The idea that you’ve got to be doing everything yourself because no one can do it better than you is an excuse not to own up to being the CEO of your company. No matter how small it is.
So, outline your systems (workflows and processes), find people who can follow directions, pay attention to detail, and share your vision for your business, and let them handle things that aren’t in your “zone of genius.”
Maybe in the beginning, your budget will not allow to have that person for as many hours as you need. Start small. See what else you might offer them that would give them as much value as a monetary exchange.
Do you have to be a systems person to create systems in your business? NO. All you need to do is record what and how you do things and save the descriptions in a place where your (future) team members can easily find and access them. Tools like Asana, Trello, or Evernote are fantastic for that.
Need more guidance on where and how to create systems?
Check out Natasha Vorompiova’s flagship program Systematic Success. What makes this program unique is that it’s focused on helping you take immediate action. Every week, your course materials will be delivered directly into a shared Evernote Notebook, Asana Project, or Trello board — whichever tool you prefer. That way, you can create your systems right then and there and have Natasha course correct you when needed.
Make sure to establish boundaries for both your kids and business. It will not only help you create time to spend with kids, but also significantly improve your productivity.
What do you do to get guilt-free work done from home with kids?