As freelancers, most of us are used to working from home. Years of doing business in our pyjamas and conducting all our meetings over video chat has prepared us well for these strange times.
However, the one aspect that has changed is the extra bodies at home with us. It’s not as easy to get stuff done when your kids barge into the room during an important meeting or your partner tries to convince you to put off an assignment so you can watch your favourite Netflix show together.
So, how can you maintain your productivity while working in a full house? Here are a few tips to help you out.
Communicate Your Situation to Your Clients
Most of your clients are probably used to you always being available for tasks and meetings during business hours. But this may not be the case anymore now that your kids are home with you.
This is why you need to communicate with your clients and make sure they understand that your situation has changed. Sometimes you’re going to be busy breaking up arguments or you may have to leave a meeting unexpectedly to tend to a crying toddler.
Luckily, many of your clients will be in the same situation or have experienced a similar situation in the past. As long as you give them a heads up, most of them will be understanding.
Make Your Expectations Clear to Your Family
After you speak with your clients, it’s time to speak to your family. You need to make sure that everyone in the house knows that when you’re working at home you’re really WORKING.
This means you’re not free to make snacks or settle debates or play video games. Make it clear that during business hours you’re not to be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. And if you’re in a meeting the rest of the house needs to be respectful and stay as quiet as possible.
It’s not just your kids you have to worry about. Anyone who’s worked from home knows that people tend not to take your work time as seriously as they would if you were working in an office. Make sure your partner knows that as much as you’d love to hang out with them, it will have to wait until your work is finished.
Set a Schedule for Yourself
It’s easier to motivate yourself to work when there are no distractions around. But now that your family is there with you, it’s going to take a lot more focus.
Instead of starting your work early in the day, you may decide to play with your kids for a little while. Or maybe you want to spend some quality time with your partner. Then before you know it, it’s lunchtime and you haven’t even touched your laptop yet.
To counteract this, it’s a good idea to create a schedule for yourself. Commit to a time that you’ll start your work and plan out what you’re going to accomplish every day. By writing all this down it will help you hold yourself accountable and you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.
Create a Home Office
You can tell — or ask — your family not to bother you but, if you don’t set up a physical space for work, you’ll never get the real space you need to get your work done.
That’s why it’s so important to set up a home office — ideally one that has a door that can be closed. This way you can create a space that’s just for work which will help you stay more focused on the task at hand.
It’s also good to have a workspace you can go to so your family knows when not to disturb you. If you’re in your office with the door closed the other people in your house will likely be more respectful of your work hours.
Plan Activities for Your Kids
One thing that’s sure to derail your work is hearing those dreaded words from your kids: “I’m BORED.”
It doesn’t matter how many warnings you give your kids. If they start running out of things to do, they’re going to come find you. It’s just an unfortunate fact of life.
Make sure to have some shows and movies you can put on for your kids during business hours. You can also stock up on toys and board games that they can play throughout the day, or plan some arts and crafts projects to keep them busy.
Try to think ahead so when your kids tell you they’re bored you always have an answer.
Prepare for Interruptions
All the planning in the world isn’t going to prevent you from experiencing interruptions while you’re trying to work. So, it’s best to just prepare for it and try to roll with it.
It’s easy to get upset when your concentration is broken by a toy flying across the room or your partner trying to show you a funny video. Simply remind everyone that you’re working and give your kids (or partner) a stern warning if it happens repeatedly.
If you plan to be interrupted a few times throughout the day then it won’t be as disruptive when it actually happens.
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