How To Manage Working From Home While Being A Parent this Back to School Season

As Back to School Season 2020 arrives, new challenges of time management and scheduling await

The end of summer is typically an exciting time with which we are all familiar.  New clothes, new backpacks, new school supplies.  This time of year reminds us of a fresh start and all new schedules and activities.  This year, however, is something we have never experienced.  There is uncertainty and caution surrounding the new school year as we all try to keep our kids as safe as possible.  For many students, that means returning completely to virtual learning and for others it may mean a combination of in-person and virtual learning.  For many parents, these new routines will threaten productivity levels and demand a new focus on time management.  Here are a few tips on how to manage working from home while being a parent this back to school season.

  1. Create a routine.

We have all heard it before, create a routine and stick to it.  Maintaining a consistent schedule for waking up, meal times, and bedtimes will not only allow you to be more productive as your mind is set to focus on each part of your day, but it will also reduce stress and encourage family bonding.  For example, setting the time to eat dinner as a family will insure that no one schedules anything else for that time.  You will know to keep that time open and dedicated to having a meal together and spending time with one another.

In addition to having a set routine, take some time on Sunday evenings to plan out your week.  Decide which tasks for the week are assigned to which family member and put that on your calendar.

  1. Add non-negotiables to your calendar.

When you create your calendar for the week on Sunday nights, be sure to put your top priorities, or non-negotiables, on the calendar first.  Schedule time with your family or schedule meetings with friends.  As for your weekly work responsibilities, limit yourself to no more than three priority tasks per day.  Remember that the best way to increase productivity is to prioritize your tasks and fully focus on each project one at a time.  

  1. Separate your roles.

Working from home tends to blend together your work-life and your home-life, making it difficult to take your mind off of one when you are supposed to be focusing on the other.  One solution is to separate home and work zones by creating a dedicated workspace that’s separate from the rest of your home.  If that is not possible, try to find a quiet space where you can focus on your work and take it one task at a time.  Establish a transition routine from role to role. It could be something as simple as powering off your computer or changing your clothes. It signals that it’s time to switch from work mode to parent mode, or vice versa.

  1. Plan what you can in advance.

Try to take some time to plan out the things that are in your control.  Decide the menu for the week or the chores around the house that need to get done as well as what your tasks at work will be and where your kids will need to be throughout the week.  Having a plan will set you up for greater productivity each week.

Remember that this back to school season will be unlike any we have ever seen, so go easy on yourself if things are not perfect.  Be realistic and be sure to keep a focus on your top priorities both at work and at home.

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