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In this era where working from home and freelancing from a home office is common, there’s a new challenge to overcome. While working from home can help with the work/life balance, there are times when the kids can tip the scales away from work at exactly the wrong moment. After almost a decade of working from home with kids around, and after speaking with a few similarly challenged friends and colleagues, here are some of our favourite tips.
Establish some ground rules
Set some ground rules and stick to them. For example, if the kids see you with headphones on, they need to know that means you’re on a call and can’t be disturbed unless it’s urgent.
Firm communication that teaches them about your work day and commitments is key. For example, while I was working yesterday, both my step-sons were home from school. I explained to them that I had an important call and that for those 30 minutes I needed them to keep a little quieter than usual.
Schedule time for work and kids
It may be a work day but if the kids are around you need to make time for them. Plan your day so there’s a mix between work, play and other activities. For example, schedule meal breaks and allow for time every hour to chat, organise an activity or to join in with play time.
If you’re planning to work from home, have a list of different activities you can use to keep the kids busy. Mix up the indoor and outdoor play – six hours of iPad time is not a good way to encourage healthy life habits.
On the work side, if you need an escape hatch with some quiet, why not take calls and process email in the car, where it’s quiet, while it’s parked in the driveway and the kids are playing outside.
Involve the kids in your work
When you plan your work day, look for opportunities to involve kids in your work. For example, when I think about story ideas I sometimes ask the kids what stories they think are most interesting and why. I get them to read some of my work and ask them to write about things that interest them. That way, we’re working together.
Not all “workations” are created equal. A productive one takes planning and balance: Too much work and too little vacation (or vice versa) can defeat the purpose. But done correctly, working vacations are an opportunity to experience the world without having to worry about falling behind.
Ready to try a working vacation? Before you book:
1. Get your team on board.
Remote work may be a staple at many companies, but not all of them are used to team members taking working vacations. Make sure everyone knows you’re not totally unplugging; you’re working intermittently.
Once your team knows you’re not going AWOL, determine your priorities together. Outline what you want to accomplish while you’re gone. Even if you’ll have access to phone and email the whole time, account for times when you won’t be strictly available, such as on flights.
2. Choose the right destination.
Your working vacation should be somewhere you actually want to go, of course, but that shouldn’t be your only consideration. Think about the factors that might influence the work you’re doing and how productively you’re able to do it.
Wherever you go, make sure the place you stay at has internet, phone service, and anything else you need to get work done. Get an international cell phone if you frequently take calls. Pay for a hotspot if you’re worried about Wi-Fi reliability.
3. Plan your workplaces.
Cafes and libraries aren’t always what they appear from online photos. That coffee shop might be so busy you can’t find a seat. The library might only offer Wi-Fi to library card holders, and you may need a local address to get a card.
Plan for those moments by creating “always,” “sometimes,” and “never” lists. You might have a nearby friend, for instance, whose house has Wi-Fi you can always use. Starbucks is another good option for your “always” list. Local coffee shops and grocery stores should be “sometimes” choices.
4. Give yourself some breathing room.
A working vacation should still be a vacation. Give yourself at least three free hours during each workday, and plan at least one day when you don’t work at all. To give yourself stress-free time away, productivity site Calendar suggests communicating those hours to your second-in-command.
We all need vacations to feel relaxed and satisfied with our lives. When we overwork, we steal from our future for the sake of the present. Taking a working vacation is the best way to balance the two.
Getting a side hustle becomes a necessity from time to time. With no guarantee of a paycheck if you are freelance, you have to keep money flowing in. The key is finding something that works with your schedule, and is lucrative enough to shore up your income when you need it. As you start exploring your options, consider the following eight side hustles.
With consulting, you take your existing skills and use them to help other businesses. There’s a great market for this as so many businesses need help, but aren’t able to bring on full-time staff. So no wonder that consulting is a $250 billion industry.
2. Running an ecommerce store
E-commerce is a low-cost, low-barrier way of starting your own business. You can set up shop online, and sell products from all over the world. Thanks to dropshipping and other schemes like Amazon FBA, you don’t even have to purchase stock or manage inventory/logistics. Even better, you set up your online store quickly and easily with the help of Shopify marketing experts.
3. Teaching and tutoring online
There’s a growing market for online education. Students and their parents need help from skilled tutors. Others are seeking alternatives to formal education when it comes to developing skills they need to get ahead. If you already have the in-demand expertise, and an ability to break concepts down so they are easy to master, teaching and/or tutoring online might be for you.
4. Flipping websites
Not every entrepreneur wants to build a website from scratch. Others prefer to take existing sites, and turn them into profitable ventures. You can get in on this by flipping websites on the side. There are loads of websites that no longer serve their owner’s interests, or have been abandoned altogether. As a website flipper, you find these pages, purchase them, and sell them at a profit.
5. Affiliate marketing
If you have an active blog or website, affiliate marketing is a natural next step towards building a passive income stream. With just a little effort, you can market the products and services you like to others on your website.
6. Writing an ebook or creating other digital assets
With digital products you create something once, then sell it multiple times. You can share your expertise with an eBook, provide your target customers with templates, even use your own photographs to sell as stock images.
7. Real estate
Real estate is both the most popular and most lucrative side gig that can pay up to $90/per hour. This could be due to the fact that you have so many options for entering this niche. You can take a course and obtain your real estate license, and work selling properties on the side. You can pool your money with other investors to purchase and sell properties.
8. Working as a translator/interpreter or voice tester
If you’re proficient in two or more international languages, you can make good money off of that. You can offer translations services on freelancing websites or join a company like Para Plus Translations where you get the opportunity to work on exciting projects involving translation or interpretation services.
There’s no need to enter the world of full-time employment to enjoy the benefits of good wages. Instead leverage your skills and flexibility to land a side gig.
It’s easy to assume working from home leads to less productivity, but in reality, it’s usually quite the opposite. Keeping remote employees engaged and on track isn’t impossible. In fact, it can help boost productivity. As 52% of employees work from home at least once per week, remote work is beneficial for a reboot and recharge while maintaining a strong work ethic away from the office.
To help you with time management and remain optimally productive, we’ve compiled this list of 9 ways to stay focused when you’re working from home.
1. Find an optimal space to remain productive
It’s important you have a space that signals to your brain that it’s time to focus. Plus, it’s equally critical you save spaces like your bedroom for relaxation, so you can continue to have good work-life balance. Otherwise, you might find yourself checking your email from your bed at 9 p.m. because you haven’t mentally left the office.
2. Keep a consistent routine
To ensure productivity, a time management tip is to kick off your day with the same routine you’d use if you were heading to the office. Make some coffee, take a shower, and put on a pair of jeans rather than staying in your bathrobe and slippers. Maintaining a morning routine helps you to mentally prepare for the day and get in a productive state-of-mind.
3. Stick to a schedule
When you’re working from home, there are often other demands you need to pay attention to: cooking, taking your dog for a walk, picking a child up from daycare, or switching laundry from the washer to the dryer, to name a few. To maintain focus throughout the day, it’s crucial to set a schedule and stick to it.
For instance, if you’re most productive first thing in the morning, try tackling your most difficult tasks right when you wake up. Later in the day you can complete easier tasks, like responding to emails or editing a blog post while you multitask on some of those other non-office-related responsibilities.
4. Eliminate distractions
If you think casually checking email or quickly opening Facebook isn’t a big deal, consider this: research from the University of California, Irvine found that the typical office worker spends only 11 minutes on a task before getting interrupted, but once interrupted, it takes them about 23 minutes to get back on track. To ensure long-term productivity, implement strategies to ensure you don’t get interrupted in the first place.
5. Take breaks
To ensure you’re consistently making wise professional decisions, take breaks to mentally refresh. While it might seem counter intuitive, regular breaks can actually make you more productive, particularly if your breaks include a form of exercise.
Additionally, breaks can help prevent decision fatigue. A study found Israeli judges were more likely to grant parole to prisoners after their two daily breaks. As decision fatigue sets in, however, the rate of granting parole dropped to nearly zero percent because judges resorted to the easiest option – just saying no.
6. Be transparent about when you’re online and offline
You’ll be more productive if you set clear online and offline boundaries. If you need to take your dog for a walk, set an “Away” status on your Slack. At 5 p.m. (or whenever you choose to be done working for the day), don’t respond to any more emails, so coworkers know you’re unreachable until tomorrow. If possible, incorporate those times into your Gmail calendar so when you’re offline, your coworkers will know why.
7. Make a to-do list
Checking off a to-do list is one of the simplest pleasures of a work day. When working from home, it’s necessary to have specific goals you need to meet to ensure you stay on track when Netflix or your bed is calling your name.
8. Have a set end time
To ensure proper balance, try setting up a logoff routine at a reasonable end time each day, regardless of how much you’ve finished. Jot down a to-do list of tasks you want to tackle the next day, set an away status on your messaging apps, and put your work supplies back away until the morning.
9. Maintain relationships with coworkers via messaging or video conferencing software
Working from home could hinder your ability to catch up with coworkers and form those deeper bonds like you would if you ran into them in the office kitchen. To combat this, it’s vital to maintain connections with them through internal communication tools like Slack or video conferencing software tools like Zoom. Set up regular 1:1 virtual meetings simply for the purpose of catching up so you’re never out of the loop.
Remote work is hard work
Even though you might have the luxury of sitting on your sofa while working from home, it doesn’t mean you’re not working. The work you do from home can be as productive – if not more productive than your time in the office. Don’t second guess yourself!