Attorney Heather Trick Walks You Through Her Process
As people settle into their new work-from-home situations, everyone is starting to realize that no amount of color coded charts, live streamed baby zoo animals, or bribery can keep a child occupied for a solid 8 hours while you dive into your work obligations. For the past 2 years I have been working from home while simultaneously parenting a young child somewhere between 1 and 4 days every week, so here are some of my tips to achieving some work productivity while keeping the wildlings happy.
1. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
We keep saying, it’s “business as usual.” We want that sense of normalcy in our routine, and more importantly, in our bank accounts. But nothing about this current situation, or trying to accomplish 8 hours of work while also feeding the stomachs, brains, and hearts of your children is normal. Expect that try as you might, you will not get the hours in or all of the tasks accomplished, and the multitude of interruptions will mean that you are spending a lot of your work time just getting back in focus.
Prioritize your tasks. Figure out what projects have deadlines, which tasks are most likely to generate income, or what needs to be accomplished to meet your basic job functions. If you can delegate tasks to other staff working remotely, do it. Now is not the time be picky about how your assistant signs the emails or indents the margins. Let it go, it is a waste of precious time.
3. MODIFY YOUR SCHEDULE
Do you want to know when your most productive hours are with children at home? When they are sleeping. I am usually able to accomplish about 80% of my work during my child’s 2.5 hour nap, purely out of necessity. Now that I am full time at home, I am also working for the 2 hours after my child falls asleep and sometimes even those glorious morning moments before he runs screaming through my house with bounding energy and hanger.
4. TAKE BREAKS FOR 100% KID TIME
My little blessing wants my attention most when he can’t have it. So, I started putting the phone down, stepping away from the computer, and playing with my kid for 15-20 minutes at a time. Even those little moments help relieve so much parent guilt about focusing on work otherwise, and 15 minutes is about all that my kid needs to grow bored with me and return to his mom-free activities.
5. MAKE TOYS EXCITING AGAIN
Remember those toys you packed away? Swap them out for the toys they are currently playing with. Then they are just like new toys! Rotate in a new (old) toy once a day. I got a solid hour of work time out of one toy today, and when he becomes bored with it tomorrow, it will disappear for a week or so.
6. GET CREATIVE
Scavenger hunts (using pictures for little ones), obstacle courses, craft projects–they take a little time and creativity on your part, but may pay off in huge dividends time-wise. Your kids may even enjoy doing craft projects next to your work station to feel just as productive as you. As long as we are permitted to be in parks/playgrounds, these are also great locations for work calls. I have closed some of my biggest deals while pushing my kid in a swing or watching him climb the jungle gym.
7. NORMALIZE THE SCREAMING CHILD
I can’t tell you how many business calls I have conducted with a wailing banshee in the background. I address it at the beginning, apologize for the noise, and move on with business. Most people were understanding before, they are all in the same boat now.
8. IF ALL ELSE FAILS, IPAD
There is no shame in using a little screen time to give us that moment to settle a case, close a deal, or address serious news with a client. Let it happen and move on. If your kid is still alive at the end of the day, 90% of your job as a parent is a success.