How Parents Can Stay Productive While Working from Home

Most of us have suddenly found ourselves spending way more time at home than we’re used to. We’re working where we live, parenting where we live, and trying to unwind where we live. It can be difficult (to say the least) to know where one boundary ends and the next begins. Not to mention, the toll this new normal can have on your mental wellbeing.

If this sounds familiar, don’t worry. We’ve got a few tips to help get you through these taxing times.

1. Maintain a Routine

You may feel like things are out of your control at the moment and, let’s face it, they kind of are. But you can control your daily routine. As temping as it may be to sleep in a bit, work in your pajamas, and snack all day, it probably won’t help you in the long run.

Instead, get up at close to your usual time, change out of your pajamas, and take a lunch break. If you normally do your hair and makeup for work, try doing that some days too. There’s a psychological shift that happens when we physically prepare ourselves for work, which can help improve your focus and productivity.

2. Organize and Prioritize

Even if you’re not usually a to-do list kind of person, consider giving it a try. It’s all too easy right now to be pulled away from your desk for 10 minutes that turn into a half hour. But keeping a list of tasks to get done in the day may help you keep a 10-minute break to a 10-minute break.

You may also need to reevaluate what’s actually important for you to get done right now. For many of us, things aren’t “business as usual.” Which means just because there was something you were working on before, doesn’t mean it’s still as time-sensitive now.

3. Avoid Too Much Family Time During Work Hours

If your kids or partner needs you, that’s one thing. But it can be easy to slip out of work mode if you’re putting in too much play time with the kids. If you normally spend your days working away from home, try your best to maintain that mentality. Too many family interruptions can just make your work day longer, causing you to work late, missing even more family time in the evenings.

Close the door if you need to or try listening to white noise to cancel out distractions. Maybe establish set family break times so the kids know when they can and can’t visit.

4. Video Chat

Zoom and Skype meetings are everywhere these days, but they don’t have to always be a formal meeting. If you find yourself in a situation where, under normal circumstances, you’d just walk over to someone’s desk and ask them a question, why not video call them?

The quality of communication is better “face-to-face,” which could save you time rather than going back and forth with emails. Not to mention the benefits of engaging with someone who’s in the same situation that you are. It’s one thing to know you’re not alone during this tough time, but it’s another to see it first-hand.

5. Make Time for Exercise

We say it all the time, but exercise is more important now than possibly ever before. Exercise is good for the brain, both in health and wellness. Exercise causes our brains to release an array of beneficial chemicals. Norepinephrine can be released, which can help improve attention, perception, and motivation. It also can cause a release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDFN), which can help protect and repair neurons from degeneration.

“Feel-good” chemicals are released too, like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins. These chemicals can improve mood and help support better sleep.

So, while you may not be able to go to the gym, there are still things you can do at home and even involve the kids. Try family yoga, do a relay race on the stairs, or do a few squats while holding a child, just be sure to get moving.

6. Be Kinder to Yourself

Most importantly, remember that these are unprecedented times, so it may take a while to figure out your groove. If the kids pull you away for longer than you’d like, or your to-do list doesn’t get wrapped up every day it’s okay. You’re doing your best and that’s all you can do.

Remember, if you’re struggling, reach out for help. While this is a tough time for many of us, it will pass, and we’ll get through it together.

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