Working from home and childcare (or other family care!) - summer challenges part 2
5 tips to get work done at home in the holidays
Is it deeply ironic that my post on childcare and working from home is late? I’m going to say that it really proves that point one (roll with it) is key!
I asked you about your challenges for the summer and you responded in 4 broad categories:
· Moving more and losing weight
· Childcare and working from home
· Building momentum in business and increasing in efficiency
· Switching off, relaxing, finding time for specific activities and balance.
Last week I talked about moving more and losing weight and set up the Facebook Group Move More. It’s a friendly group with lots of people eager to move just a little more and feel better. My awesome Personal Trainer friend, Beatrice Pattenden, has also created a cool video about 5 moves you can do in 5 minutes especially for the group. Why don’t you come on over and see how you like it?
Childcare and working from home were topics that came up particularly from parents that usually work from home BUT the following points will also be valuable to work from home folks without kids but with other people at home (ie partners off work, family staying) and to parents that usually work from an office but are now off with the kids.
1. Roll with it.
Remember that holidays are about fun. Sometimes the rest of this list will go out of the window and you’ll be camping without your laptop charger and with a dodgy phone battery and you’ll realise you forgot a blog post. (Too specific an example….?) And that’s ok. If nobody dies or is seriously injured as a result of you not being able to do something, then it’s ok.
2. Ruthlessly prioritise.
What do you really have or want to get done? Even if you don’t usually work from home, there may well be work around the home that you want/need to attend to (decluttering a wardrobe, ironing back to school name labels on uniform, filing that stack of papers that has accumulated in the study). That can all feel difficult if you are either looking after kids or trying to spend time with family. Be ruthless in your prioritisation. Determine how many hours you feel it is ok to spend on these things or other work and complete as much as you can within those hours on the basis of that prioritisation. Don’t be swayed into doing the small things down at the bottom of the list just because they are easy and only take a few minutes. The big bad tasks may take longer but consider how much more satisfied you will feel once they are done. Break the really big tasks down into smaller pieces and remember not to get stressed if you get interrupted. (See point one). You’ll get it done another day.
In my experience, even from quite a young age, my daughter could easily understand the concept of having to wait for an activity while something else was done. (She didn’t always like it, that’s true, but she did understand). Now I find that if I’m feeling pre-emptively guilty about something (like spending an hour doing some work on a holiday day), I talk to her about it. Often, she is fine with it. As long as she knows that we are going to do something together later, she’s fine doing her own thing. The same goes for partners. Yesterday, my daughter was at a drama workshop and the original intent was that my husband and I would spend the day together. However, due to forgetting to put my Etsy shop (Vanilla Monkey Creates) on holiday, I had an order to complete which meant that I was going to be working for a few hours in the morning. I was open about the need to do that and suggested we go out for lunch. He was fine with that and then unexpectedly got a message from a friend asking if he was around for coffee. He was happy to go off and do that and I had the house to myself to get on with my work. There’s no downside to communicating what your commitments are. If the other party objects to your commitments, that’s when you have to compromise. Really listen to what the objections are and do your best to work around them.
4. Make good use of time.
Early mornings, especially if you have family that don’t get up early, can be a great time for some uninterrupted work. You may establish a completely new routine. I realise that I am back to doing some of my best work in the early morning, often before breakfast. I’m going to continue that through into the school term so I can do an hour of work before taking over getting my daughter ready for school and doing the school run. (Quite often a run by the way, but sometimes a cycle or a walk!) If you work better at night, perhaps there is a dedicated hour that you can agree on with your family where you get to settle down and get on with things.
5. Don’t work all the time.
All of the above tips are really about how to squeeze in bits of work here and there. If you run your own business and are the person solely responsible for everything, it is difficult to take a large period of time off without having to do at least some social media catch up, blogs, customer relation management, etc. But you do need some time off. Think about what you can automate or even outsource on a one-off basis. Accept that you can’t do everything, all the time. And even if you could, that’s often not the best thing for your overall health and wellbeing. Set aside time where you are definitely not going to work and enjoy that time, guilt free. Your family and your health will thank you for it.