I have always poured my own productivity into my work. I’m on top of things at the office and less so at home. But now that I work from home, sometimes surrounded by loud active kids, keeping on target is much more challenging.
Ah Summer. Distractions abound, especially right now.
It’s important to utilize the systems that worked for me in my former career, and also create new processes that make sense in this new working world of mom. Finding better ways to keep myself on goal is key, so today I’m sharing 5 of my best work-from-home productivity tips to help those of you who might be struggling in a new role of work-at-home parent.
1. Write it Down
This is a tip that has carried over from my office days, and the best process is probably different for each of us, but it is absolutely vital to write things down. My brain is full of sports, dance classes, school activities, birthday parties, doctor’s appointments, volunteering, and all of the work activities that need to get done. It can all be very overwhelming and things WILL invariably slip by. So I have to write it all down.
There are many ways to get this done efficiently. It might be a small spiral notebook, an excel spreadsheet, a productivity app, an online calendar, a special planner, or all of the above. Whatever works for you, is what works for you. That may seem obvious, but the important thing to remember is that we don’t have to start one system and cling to it for all it’s worth if it’s not working for us.
When I was working on PR, I always used a spiral notebook for my day to day activities. I wrote out a list and then used a highlighter to mark off the tasks as I completed them. I really liked that system, it worked for me. So when I started working from home, that’s naturally what I started out with. It works to a degree but times have changed. There are many more distractions. Notebooks easily get lost. My artist daughter Ellie will invariable confiscate my notebook and turn it into a book of her drawings.
So I’ve realized that using a tracker spreadsheet and online calendar works better for me most of the time. I can access these from anywhere on any device. My spreadsheets are in Google Spreadsheet and I can even see them via PC or via my smartphone through the Google Drive App. My Calendars of course can be accessed via PC and phone. And if I really need a hard copy to use my handy highlighting method, I can easily print.
I do some times fall back into the spiral notebook way of doing things because it’s so familiar but invariably I realize that it just doesn’t work any more. What type of system works for you? I’m always up for new ideas.
2. Maximize Free Windows and Energy Levels
I am not a morning person, but I have discovered that after we spend the hour or so to get the kids ready for school and off to the bus (school is almost back!), I have a boost of energy and productivity. From about 8 am to 2 or 3 pm most school days I am able to truly focus without the distraction of kids. So that’s what I do. I focus as much as I can. I ignore social media as much as possible (unless of course social media is what I’m working on) and I close out the world to get things done.
Do you have windows of time when you feel the most productive or have the highest spikes of energy? Take advantage of them.
When the kids are home from school like now I am far less likely to be running on full cylinders. I can still get things done of course but it takes a bit longer unless I find a way to focus even with distractions, which leads me to my next tip for work from home entrepreneurs.
3. Find Ways to Focus Even with Distractions
When you are a parent working from home there will be times of distraction. There’s just no way around it. So it’s important to find ways to minimize the impact of those distractions on you and the quality of your work. I really can get things done even when my kids are home from school, playing and making a ruckus.
I have found for me that wearing noise-cancelling headphones is the perfect solution. I’m not talking about wearing my headphones and listening to something on them. I just mean wearing headphones to block out the kid noise. Of course there are times when I do need to watch a video or participate in a conference call, and these headphones are perfect for that too. These are my Logitech Artemis Spectrum wireless headphones that I received at Mom 2.0 Summit. For the past 3 months they have been my salvation from distraction since are actually a gaming headset with 7.1 surround sound and amazing noise cancellation.
Some of the time I’m using them for a less than high tech purpose, but they are awesome for all purposes, PC, game console and mobile. You can use wired devices wirelessly or use an analog cable as well. It has a retractable microphone for those Google hangouts (or multiplayer gaming) and even has customizable lighting. One feature I love is that they go fully over my ears and have loads of padding, so they are extremely comfortable to wear for several hours at a time.
I know some people prefer listening to music or TV shows while they work to help block out other distractions, and I say more power to you. My husband is like that. But that’s not me, I need silence to focus. But if you’re the music-while-you-work type of person, noise-cancelling headphones are a perfect solution for you too. And if you’re a game-developer/gamer like my John, then a an advanced gaming headset should be on your to-buy list.
Do you have ways that you help minimize distractions in your home office?
4. Create a Designated Area for Work
For the longest time, I just used my laptop wherever I happened to want to work that day. The dining table, the recliner in the living room, even my bed. But I really never felt as though I was fully organized or on top of things until we created this small corner office space. The funny thing is that originally John wanted to purchase this computer so the kids could have easy computer access. It wasn’t even something I thought we needed. But I started to gravitate toward using it more and more in my daily work.
I started to feel more organized and on top of things, especially having my own space for the things that I need for blog projects and the like. It’s my little haven when I need to get things done, even when the kids are at home. They know “Mommy is working” when I sit here and are less likely to bother me about silly things. I’m still in the living room and can help them when needed, but there’s a delineation of “I’m working” vs. “I’m home” time.
5. Designate Kid/Relaxation Time
Speaking of delineating time, it is important to separate out kid and relaxation times when you’re a parent working from home. Most days I stop working for a few hours in the afternoon (unless I have a specific project I’m handling that day.) During the school year, this is the time when the kids have their activities, dance and sports. It’s the time when we might relax and watch a movie together, or when we might work on a drawing or craft project together.
I know I can make up the time right after dinner or just after they fall asleep.
Are you an work-from-home parent? What are your top tips for staying organized and on task?
Pin for later!