A Parent’s Guide to Staying Organized While Working From Home
Working from home continues to rise in popularity for many businesses and industries. Studies have found that employees may see a boost in productivity while working remotely, but many parents who are making the transition may feel like they’re in a messy mixture of their home and work lives. Working around kids, spouse, and home environment is unfamiliar for many, and can be distracting and even stressful.
This is why staying organized as a parent who works from home is crucial to maintaining a healthy work-life balance and reducing work-related stress. Below, you can find some organization tools and tactics that can help you get and stay organized while working from home.
Rethink Your Schedule
One of the benefits of working from home, especially for parents, is that in many cases you don’t have to adhere as strictly to the same working hours you would in an office. If you need certain times off for childcare or family matters, you may be able to negotiate this with your boss and make up this time later in the evening or earlier in the morning.
If your work hours are non-negotiable, there are still ways you can rethink your schedule while you work from home. For example, you can use the time you would’ve taken commuting to and from an office to prep meals, walk pets, or do pressing chores.
Stick to a Routine
Once you’ve made your schedule work for you, stick to it as best as possible. Consistency is key for staying organized, maintaining your work/life balance, and creating healthy habits that everyone in the family can adapt to.
Create a Morning Routine
You can start your workdays off right by having a morning routine. An optimal, reliable morning routine can help gear you up to be in a working mindset, even if it’s just making breakfast or helping kids get ready for school. Other activities that can help kickstart your day might include:
- Dressing in clothes that make you feel good;
- Making a to-do list;
- Doing a short work-out;
- Taking a shower;
- Applying make-up or skincare.
Implementing a consistent wake-up time can also be beneficial to your morning routine, as it can help you sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
Work Consistent Hours
Once you have your schedule settled, try to keep the days you work and the amount of time you work each day consistent. This can benefit you by training your brain to stay focused during working hours, which can help you relax when you’re off the clock too. Additionally, keeping consistent working hours can help your co-workers know when you are available for collaboration in the absence of your physical presence.
You should also keep your work breaks consistent. It can be tempting to have working lunches — or skip breaks all together — but just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you’re not working and don’t deserve a break. Skipping breaks or constantly working overtime simply because your work is constantly accessible can lead to serious work-from-home burnout.
Invest in Organizational Tools
Having the right tools can make a huge difference in keeping your home office organized. When working from home, you may want to invest in some of the tools that would be useful in an office setting. These tools could be:
- Filing cabinets;
- Storage bins;
- External hard drives.
Likewise, it pays to be organized for parenting tasks and other at-home duties. Keeping your caddy organizers close at hand can save you from wasting time searching for what you need to tend to the baby, and allow you to jump between roles more seamlessly.
Even with all the organizational tools in the world, if you’re constantly distracted, you won’t get much done. To limit distractions, you can
- Work in a quiet, low-traffic area;
- Keep non-work-related screens out of your workspace;
- Limit your view of unfinished tasks, like dishes or laundry;
- Limit interactions with pets, children, or other house members if possible.
Communicating with your family about when you need undisturbed focus, or planning projects around nap times can help you dedicate the time you need to get tasks done.
Designate a Separate Room For WorkingIf you can, designate a separate room where you can close the door against noise, pets, and other people in the house for your office. This can help improve your concentration and reinforce those work-life boundaries. Ideally, this should be an entirely dedicated office space. If this isn’t possible, talk with your family about making it the “work” room. This can be a place that you, your spouse, or even your child (if they’re attending school online), can go when they need to focus on work.
If you don’t have a spare room, you can section off “quiet zones” in shared spaces. You can do this by using room partitions, colored tape, or by making a schedule of quiet zones that’s visible for the whole family. You could additionally schedule quiet times during the day, where the whole family can do quiet activities like reading, coloring, or homework. No matter what setup you land on, make sure you use positive discipline to reinforce the rules of the space with your kids, so that they can understand and accept this new routine.