One of the most common sources of stress and fear for working mums is failing to balance work and family life. To most of us, fulfilling both roles is quite hard to pull off and often, giving one side more priority becomes unavoidable.
With this at hand, nowadays, more and more people prefer to work from home because of its long list of benefits and convenience perks. In such a conducive setup, working mums are given the opportunity to spend more time with their kids and family while taking their work with them freely.
Working from home entitles mums to freedom and flexibility. However, with this and other distractions, the job may still be challenging from time to time and focus might become hardly attainable. Also, the reality of working and living in the same space can lead to an overall lack of motivation and this can be hard to deal with.
Many work the usual 9am to 5am shift, don’t skipping their meals, and get ready even before they face the computer just like what regular professionals do. For most of them, this is one of the common tactics to fuel them up, keep their focus and drive them to work effectively. However, as much as it seems like a solution, it does not entirely eliminate interruptions.
How can we work from effectively?
Without an effort to set a schedule, interact with others, and lay out planned activities for a day to keep your kids busy, your productivity will likely be affected negatively. Thus, being mindful and prepared for this reality about home-based work is one of entrepreneurs’ and successful working mums’ topmost secrets to balance the responsibilities of their businesses with the isolation of working from home.
To guide you further, below are specific steps to achieve that work and life balance at home:
- Set a clear to-do list for a day or a week. Planning is an imperative factor towards excellent productivity. Regardless of if you are an entrepreneur or a virtual employee, it is important to be very clear about what you need to work on. This is true especially if you have kids who constantly interrupt you. The aim here is to stay focused in getting these things done fast whilst maintaining the necessary level of quality.
One good way to keep track of your performance is by keeping a planner, a Gantt chart, or a calendar of your to-dos. In there, you should be able to highlight the tasks that need the highest priority even before your week starts. A lot of experts, for this matter, usually mark off the unimportant tasks first as these tend to be accomplished easily. You can do that too.
- Set a plan to handle interruptions like a pro. Unlike work interruptions in the corporate world where most are still work-related, working from home needs a whole different approach to handling interruptions as these are usually from your kids, house chores, and other things that need immediate attention. If not managed well, things can get very chaotic. Hence, it is important to have a plan ready.
One of the effective techniques for managing interruptions is using the Pomodoro Technique through apps like the Tomato Timer. It is a stopwatch application which lets you consciously work 20 to 25 minutes straight. In between periods, you can reserve a couple of minutes to check on your kids. The goal here is to make sure that you have set boundaries for work time. A lot of 25-minute work bursts can actually lead you farther than you might think.
- Be prepared to manage distractions. Distractions differ from interruptions in a sense that they can come in other forms like social media, mobile games, and emails. They are not necessarily caused by another person inside your house which makes it differently challenging. Since you are dealing more with yourself here, outsmarting yourself is a wise plan. This can be achieved even through minor gestures like closing all your browser windows except the ones you are working with. You can also keep your mobile gadget away from your reach and wait until your scheduled break. Trust me, it helps!
If you have that artistic ego within, maybe listening to classical music will work great to minimise distractions. In any case, many also do this nowadays to stimulate their thinking!
- Formulate techniques and procedures to save time from other things. For instance, if your work involves calling hotlines or logging in to different accounts, instead of looking at your manual list which will waste quite a lot of your time, you can instead make use of free project management tools on the web like Trello. These programs are designed to make things easier for you. They manage all the information you save and some may suggest a plan alongside reminding you of your pending to-dos.
- Keep the fun, have a balanced schedule. There is no room to feel deprived of other things or to make your kids feel like they are ignored if you want to be productive in your work as this only tends to dissuade you from working further. As much as possible, you have to keep the balance and not drown yourself with all those tasks. Give time for your kids, meals and exercise. You do not necessarily have to go to the park or the nearest gym, though. You can simply do some curl ups on your couch with your toddler. All you need is a little fun and unwinding.
With proper management approaches, working from home can really be a blessing to many working mums. But with it, it is vital that we create meaningful boundaries between work and family. With clear boundaries, you will be able recognize whether what you do should be maintained or avoided the next time.