As schools and offices close in response to the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are working from home while looking after our kids. It’s wonderful to have so much time together, but it's important to make sure that the whole family's needs are met - otherwise things are going to get stressful! Realistically, balancing these needs requires organisation and discipline, so here are some of our expert tips…
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1.Establish a routine
Working from home might not require heels and makeup, but that doesn't necessarily mean skipping the shower and working in your PJs. Your hours might be flexible, but your daily routine shouldn't be taken lightly. Create your own 'getting ready for work' ritual (take a shower, have a coffee, and catch up the news) whilst always trying to start working at a similar time to your office hours.
2.Claim a workspace
Forget working from your laptop at the kitchen table or even in bed: it’s important that you find a space, however small, that you can call your office. Not only does this help your children to know that 'mummy’s things' are for work and not part of a game, but it also helps you to take your eyes (and attention) off the housework.
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3.Stick to your deadlines
If a project has to be ready in two weeks, act like it has to be in for tomorrow and never leave it until the last minute! When there are children about, interruptions are going to happen, so prepare to feel at times as though you are taking one step forward and two steps back.
4.Don't prioritise chores over work
Putting the washing machine on, hoovering and stacking the dishes are tasks that should be shared with the whole family, and even the little ones can help with some household chores. Remember not to put domestic tasks before your professional commitments. If you worked in an office, you wouldn’t come home just to hang the sheets out to dry, would you?
5.A schedule is essential
There will be times when you can work with your children nearby, and other times when you must lock yourself away to concentrate on more complicated projects. For this reason, your daily agenda should not only include your work timetable, but also your children’s timetables. When you work at home, it isn’t the number of hours you dedicate to your work that’s important, but your ability to maximise every minute of your time.
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One of the great things about working remotely is that you can organise your own agenda. It’s up to you whether you get up two hours early and get a head start, or take some extra time at night. Either way, try to establish a super-effective schedule.
Establish rules with your children so that they understand when they must not disturb you for anything short of an emergency. Create a series of signs and signals with them so that they know when to be quiet or to leave your office without you having to explain why.
7.Talk to your family
Not everyone realises that even though you are at home, you are not available and are just as tied up as you would be at the office. It’s important that everyone understands that phone calls, messages and non-urgent errands must be left until the end of the working day.
8.Downtime is sacred
Although it’s important to set time and space aside for work, it’s vital not to let work bleed into your every waking hour. When you’re playing with the children or eating dinner with your partner, turn the phone off. Decide at what time you start and stop reading emails each day. You’ll all be happier for it.
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