While in full-blown corona right now, are you a full-time worker, full-time parent, full-time teacher at the same time?
Are you feeling like you’re failing at all of these?
I feel you.
This has been me and it has been so C R A Z Y lately.
I’ve been working 100% remotely for a large company for about six years as a recruiter. In each home we lived in, we turned a bedroom into my office equipped with a command center, printers, scanners, a fax machine, and everything I need as if I were in a real office.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m used to working from home before the corona.
AND I STILL STRUGGLE.
You, my friend, were dropped right into the deep end of this situation with absolutely no preparation or chance to adjust. And it’s hard and unfair.
Your kitchen has piled up dishes, your kids demand help with their math lesson, your schedule is filled with calls and meetings, your cleaning ladies are due for a visit but can’t come.
It looks anything but success at your home.
Friend, listen to this:
You’re not trying to work from home. You’re trying to survive a crisis while working from home.
It may not feel like it, but you’re doing a fantastic job!
It’s OK to just be surviving and not thriving right now! ❤️
Even for me with all the years of working from home, it wasn’t all rainbows all the time. At the beginning, I had a hard time balancing being a mom and an employee, yelled at my kids a lot, and thought “this is a mistake.”
Illusion with kids: Hours of workbooks, quiet reading, and calm playtime.
Reality with kids: Somebody is always hungry, somebody needs their pants put back on, somebody hit their sibling, somebody needs a diaper changed.
I did a lot of experimentation and also came across great books like Drive by Daniel Pink, Atomic Habits by James Clear, and Deep Work by Cal Newport, all inspirations for this post.
Now that I worked out many of the kinks in my earlier work-from-home years, I find that it’s hard but doable, and I am far more productive working from home than when I was commuting to work.
My employer is happy. I’m happy.
If you’re working remotely at this time, too, let me share what I learned the last few years with you.
Here are my tips.
7 Tips (I’ve Been Using For Years) To Work Remotely From Home With Active Kids
1. Get Dressed And Ready In The Morning As If Heading Out
Studies show that when you get dressed as if going somewhere, you are more productive.
So much of productivity is having the right mentality. You should feel you’re able to tackle anything in your day — even if you have to run out immediately for any reason.
You don’t have to put on makeup just like you’re at the office. (You can if you want to, but it’s not what I’m suggesting.) It’s more about the basics. Make sure your outfit is clean and neat, breath is fresh, face is washed, and hair is tame.
No one is going to see this effort except maybe your DrSpouse and your kids. But you’re not doing this for them. This is for YOU.
2. Get Up One Hour Before The Kids
In the dead quiet of the morning before the chaos starts, get up one hour before the kids. By doing this, you have a head start to do everything you need to do before any disruptions.
Fellow doc wife and writer Cat Alford gets up at 5:00 AM before her small twins to start writing on her laptop. And that’s how she’s able to whip out so many of her articles for big-name businesses like Forbes with hard deadlines.
Once the kids are up, your agenda gets pulled into caring for them. You’re changing their diapers, feeding them breakfast, getting them their online lessons, replacing batteries in their toys, and then your day job falls to the wayside.
3. Get The Kids As Many Fun Activities As Possible
Whether you have very small ones or big helpers who are watching the other kids, fill it with age-appropriate toys and activities.
My kids’ favorites at Magnatiles and Legos. (They’re expensive but that’s all they play with!)
This buys you time so you can get some work done while they’re occupied.
If all else fails: screen time.
4. Give Your Kids Positive Reinforcement
Screen time is a very strong currency for many families.
USE THAT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE!!
When you’re on a work call, leverage this currency to your advantage and let them know that if they’re bad, they get no screen time for the rest of the day. This will cut down on the parkouring on the furniture and starting fights with their siblings while you can’t yell at them.
While I’m talking about calls, remember to lock your doors, or you’ll end up like the world’s most famous work-from-home family. (I can’t stop laughing each time I watch this, I love this family!)
5. Don’t Answer Any Emails Until Noon
When you wake up, go ahead and check your emails so you can get important announcements right away.
But for the rest of your non-urgent emails, do NOT answer them right away or else you’ll be swept away on other peoples’ agendas. And the next thing you know, it’s afternoon and your work (the one you’re being paid to do) still isn’t done.
Studies show you are most productive in the first 3 hours of your day. So if you protect and manage your precious morning time just right, you’ll be crazy efficient.
6. Make a List A and a List B
We all have To Do lists. But take it further and divide your To Do list into two: List A and List B: Put things you HAVE to get done today on List A, and put the rest on List B.
Now, here’s a question you’re asking me:
“Do you do anything on List B?”
NO!!!! DO NOT TOUCH LIST B AT ALL COSTS!!!
List B is actually a Do Not Do list. It’s there so that you know what is off-limits until List A is done.
It’s not going to be easy to lay off List B. Chances are, List B items are going to be faster, easier, and more fun to complete. But it’s all a trick because List B are distractors that make you feel productive, but really prevent you from getting the most important things done in your day.
If you touch List B, you’ll start tomorrow with all the things on List A still.
7. Stay Off Social Media During Working Hours
Time blocking is a tactic of intentional, focused, undisrupted time to work. It allows you to go into flow mode and get as much work as possible.
During the times I’m supposed to be working, don’t open up Facebook or Instagram, open up a tab and Google something random that just popped in your head, randomly check your texts, or anything else.
Just put my head down and do your work within that time frame.
8. Outsource What You Can
With us in corona times, things have changed. There are no more mother’s helpers, babysitters, and cleaning ladies.
Don’t feel embarrassed about outsourcing. We shouldn’t perpetuate the myth of a superwoman who doesn’t exist. Instead, be thankful for your help and love upon them fiercely and tipping well.
Supporting you and blowing kisses to you,
To your strong medical family,