(Note: These tips can be modified for anyone working remotely.)
Hi, I’m Melanie
I have been working remotely for almost seven years now and thought that I had established some kind of normalcy until the “quarantine” hit. Now I find myself juggling my full-time job while trying to homeschool my almost eight-year-old son. I never thought in a million years that I would become a homeschool teacher while working from home, but here I am. I spend my days trying to simultaneously work on my projects while helping my son with school work . . . well trying to, anyway. Second grade math is tough!
You may ask, “How do you get any work done?” Here are three tips that have helped me:
1. Establish a morning routine and try to stick with it.
Working in your pajamas all day may seem like a dream, but trust me, even that gets old after a while. Try waking up before your child(ren) and get ready for work like you did before you started working from home. I always feel much better once I have had a shower and put on my work clothes for the day. Now, like I said, I’ve been working from home for almost seven years, so my work clothes usually consist of jeans and a comfy t-shirt or sweatshirt. If you had to wear a dress, suit with tie, or some other uniform that was uncomfortable or impractical to work remotely, then by all means put on something more comfortable. The act of getting ready and out of your pajamas into a different outfit is enough to make you feel more ready to conquer the day.
If we are being completely honest though, I chose to sleep in a little bit more this morning, so I rolled right out of bed and went straight to work and instantly regretted my decision. The tiny bit of extra sleep never seems to make me feel any better. When I wake up a little bit earlier, get a shower, and get out of my pajamas and into a different outfit I always feel much better and more productive.
I’m human, though, and have off days too, like today, and that’s OK. What I’ll usually do when this happens is when I take a lunch break, I’ll take a quick shower and switch into my “work clothes” and I’m ready to conquer the second half of my day.
2. Make a to-do list and set some boundaries.
Since I’m homeschooling while working remotely, I find myself with double the amount of work to juggle that I did before the “quarantine.” It helps me if the night before I make a to-do list of everything that needs to get done the following day. Fortunately, my son’s teachers put together a list of school projects and activities that the students should try to work on every day. I print that list out and then create a list for my own work projects. Once my son completes a project, I check it off of his list and do the same for mine. When I receive a new project from either the school or my work, I just add it to the bottom of the list so that I can mark it off when it’s completed. You would be surprised at what you accomplish every day when it’s in a list form and how good it feels to mark it off of your list.
Try to set some boundaries for your child(ren) as well. If possible, have an office area set up where you can close a door so you can have some privacy while you work. If that’s not an option for you, though, and you’re making do with a corner of a room like me, let your child(ren) know that while you are at your desk you are “at work.” I have my son work on his school work in his room so that gives me a little bit of privacy. Once he is done with his work for the day he can play in his room or another room that isn’t my living room office until I get done with work.
3. Communicate and ask for help.
Communicate with your work team as much as possible. Communication is extremely important while working remotely because you can’t just get up and walk to your co-workers’ desk to ask them a quick question or ask how their day is looking. You can’t even gauge if someone is having a bad day and to steer clear because you can’t see them unless you’re on a video call.
Make sure you know what work needs to be done for the day and if you don’t know, communicate that with your team. You can call, text, email or video chat with them. Let your team know if you are having a hard time, feeling distracted, or being less productive than normal because your child has asked for food for the 47th time. Most people will understand and try to work with you, whether it’s moving a deadline or taking some work off of your plate so that you can get other work done. Let them know if you’re just having a bad day as well, so that if you accidently snap at them, they know what is going on. Communicate with your child(ren) and family as well. Let them know what you have going on throughout the day so it’s not a surprise if you can’t do something for them because you’re in the middle of a tight deadline.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, whether it’s asking a spouse to help your child(ren) with math homework (mine is better suited to be a math teacher than I am) or ask them to make lunch for everyone. Small things like having them make lunch may not seem like much, but it gives you more time to get your work done instead of your day constantly being broken up. If you don’t have anyone at home to help, reach out to your work team. Ask them if they can help with a project or give you more time on one.
One last note
I hope some of these tips help. We are all weathering this “quarantine” together and there is no right way to navigate through the waters because everyone is in a different boat. But if you try your best with what tools you already have, you may find that the waters aren’t as rough as you initially thought and there are sunny days ahead.