If you have found yourself working from home during the “shelter in place” or “stay at home” orders, you may find yourself in uncharted territory. If you have found yourself working from home while your kids are home from school, you may feel like you are in an impossible situation. Every possible distraction is there to keep you from being productive at work.
In fact, while the following information is helpful to all people working from home, this is especially important for working parents of small children. Even if they are old enough to keep themselves entertained for hours, kids don’t understand why you are not able to play with them or take them to do things since you are home.
Below are some helpful tools and tricks that will help you be more productive at work as you continue down your new path.
1. If you haven’t read our blog post about managing your day while working at home, then you may want to start there. However the following tips for productivity are in addition to what is mentioned in our previous post.
2. Keeping your routine when starting your day. Wake up at your normal time and go through your normal activities you were doing when you had to commute to the office. If you have small kids at home, wake up a little earlier than normal so that you can get your routine done before the kids wake up.
3. Plan your work, then work your plan. If you don’t have a tool to do that, I recommend you use a spreadsheet or calendar to plan out your day. Our team uses the My Perfect Week scheduler, but you can create something specific to your needs. You may also want to just use a calendar or to-do list. Whatever you do, make sure to time block your day so you can know what you need to be doing and when. Over the weekend, spend about 15 minutes planning out the upcoming week. You will be surprised how much more effectively you can work when you have a plan.
4. Work split shift – If you have young kids at home you may need to break your 8-hour work day into shifts. Try working for a few hours in the morning, then plan to spend some time with your kids. Tell them in advance that you need to work a few more hours during nap time, and when they wake up spend time with the kids. Then work a few hours in the evening after dinner, or maybe even after the kids go to bed.
5. Use an alarm (or timer) throughout the day. Setting an alarm or timer is a great way to not only keep yourself on track, but it’s also a great way to teach your kids about time and/or time management. You can use these throughout the day to keep yourself on track.
6. Technology is an awesome tool for working from home. Take advantage of these tips to manage your workflow.
Schedule Email – most email programs have the ability to write an email and schedule it to send later. This is a great way to be productive at night after the kids are asleep. Just work on items for the following day and schedule your emails to go out in the morning. Personally, I use GMAIL which has a schedule send function, but you could also try a Chrome add-on like Boomerang.
Schedule Text Messages – If you are an Android user like me, you will be excited to know that you can do the same thing with your text messages. Write them now, and schedule that text to send later. (Sorry iPhone users, this one is not for you). Here is how it works: Compose the text, click the plus (+) sign to the left of your message (if you don’t see it, you may have an arrow (>) to open the menu), once you click the plus (+) sign, you get several options and one of them should say “schedule message”. Click that and then choose the day/time you want the text to be sent.
Text from your laptop – Again, this is for my Adroid users (sorry iPhone users). If you are doing a lot of texting, you may want to look into using a program like MightyText. They have a free version and a paid version with more options. You can sync your texts from your phone to your laptop, you can easily print a text message conversation, and if you type faster on a keyboard than on a phone this product could make multiple texts much faster for you.
Zoom video calls – If you need to have meetings but can’t leave your house, consider using Zoom. You can set up a free account which works well for small groups and short meetings. If you will need a lot of people or longer meetings, you may want to upgrade to their paid plans.
Evernote – Using a note pad and pen are great when you are going into the office everyday. However, using Evernote let’s you have access to your note pad all day, every day, no matter where you are. You can set up a free account that works on 2 devices. If you want to sync your notes across more devices, you can upgrade to their paid plan.
During your time at home – your work doesn’t have to suffer. Be thankful that you have a job that allows for you to work from home. Use technology and time blocking to ensure that you can keep things moving. You might just find that you want to keep using these tools even after you are able to go back to the office again.
About the author:
Melissa Hailey is the Broker-Owner of North Texas Top Team, REALTORS in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. Our Team helps home buyers, sellers, landlords, and tenants move across North Texas and we connect clients to other great REALTORS across the country. She is a real estate instructor and coach who loves to see others succeed. She is a serial volunteer helping others in her community and in her industry. Connect with her at https://www.northtexastopteam.com/melissa-hailey/