Working for an employer from home is a blissful transition for many. But for some of us, the work-at-home initiative (while homeschooling) was an abrupt life change that most of us weren’t ready for. Back in 2009, I held a full time job while I was a single mom — and I homeschooled. Here are my tips!
18 Tips to Stay Productive While Working (and homeschooling) at Home!
1 – Assign a dollar value to your time // It takes a person an average of 23 minutes to recover from a distraction. How much will this ultimately cost your employer? Or worse yet, your family? It’s worthwhile to understand the impact of being distracted while cleaning, doing laundry or teaching. In the business world, managers are paid to identify and improve inefficient processes. Yet at home, we often succumb to many routines that are often time wasters, or inefficient. It’s a slippery slope. So protect that time! Read: Calculate the Real Cost of Noise (an ROI calculator)
2 – Wear tight pants (really!) // Don’t laugh, but my non-forgiving tight jeans I outgrew quickly when I wore yoga pants all day. Mindless eating is a common trap for stress eaters. Find a place to work away from the fridge if possible. Adopt mindful eating habits. In fact, I suggest getting up and showering and dressing in REAL pants all day. Read: Why Walmart is Seeing an Increase In Tops (Not Bottom) Sales — just don’t do this!
3 – Make lists the old fashioned way // It’s so satisfying to cross things off of a to-do list. It physically demonstrates goal setting for your kids and is an all around healthy habit! Teach them to do this, too! While there are hundreds of apps you can use to get through your to-do’s, giving your eyes (and brain) a rest from technology is highly recommended.
4 – Create mini-rewards for your kids (and you!) // Did you knock out a tough task? Reward yourself! Create a food-free (and tech-free break) with every major accomplishment. It can be a 5 minute walk, doing something artistic, calling a friend, grabbing some water, petting the dog, listening to music or a meditation. Whatever you need to stay motivated and productive.
5 – The arts // I LOVE a creative outlet. Set up a paint station, music station and reading area for the kids so they can explore the arts as part of their mini rewards. Being artistic is a great reward. Do this for you, too! Read: Set Up a Reading Nook for Your Kids
6 – Claim a PRIVATE work area // Just because you’re home, don’t expect your entire family to stop living their life. Refrain from sitting in the middle of the house for important business. For conference calls or tasks that require high concentration, create a private workspace. Read: Transform Your Closet Into a Workspace and How to Repurpose Anything
7 – Create a group work area // Younger kids would like to soak up a little time with you. During group work time, this is where you can perform simple easy tasks while using this time to teach, instruct and homeschool. Make it fun for everyone while they all feel like they’re “at work” with you, too. Read: Studio and Workspace Ideas
8 – Stand up // Sitting all day can cause numerous health problems. In my case, my hips ache as a result of all day sitting. Create a stand up desk or work area. The kitchen island, a basement bar, or any number of desks online can be purchased where you stand and work. (I do leg lifts sometimes while at my kitchen island!) Read: How Your Chair is Hurting You
9 – No TV // The news isn’t so pleasant right now and so distracting, so we have a no-TV policy during the day. Some family members really struggle to concentrate while others can multitask just fine. It’s best to keep it off so everyone can be productive.
10 – Noise cancelling earphones // When I’m writing I need total silence or white noise. AirPods are all the rage, but a less expensive option (and my favorites) are Beats, you can purchase them here (affiliate link included)
11 – Hire a Cleaning Service // Having an organized space makes you more productive. The problem? Your house gets messier even faster when you’re home all the time. If cleaning services are consider “essential” in your area, consider using some of that money you normally spent at restaurants and save yourself a little time. (In my area, $80 pays for 4 hours of cleaning service. Spread that out weekly, and save yourself some time!) — remember what I talked about in tip #1? Don’t waste precious work time cleaning if you can help it.
12 – Meal planning // I try to plan my meals in the morning, get grocery delivery then everything is ready to cook at home for dinner. Telling your kids to eat 3 colors at every meal is something I heard which is a great idea. I love using AllRecipes.com’s app for meal planning.
13 – Curbside Grocery Delivery // I love Instacart, but lately you have to plan ahead to be sure you can get same day delivery. Grocery delivery is so easy. Deciding whether it’s right for you is an exercise of where you’d rather be spending your time. It’s SO worth the hassle of avoiding the grocery store.
14 – Start the day with a quick cleanup & keep a schedule // As my coffee brews, I typically do a quick house cleanup, get my coffee, my shower and dressed. I then make a to-do list and plan meals. If you’re using a crockpot, now is a great time to start dinner. For lunch try to keep things simple and sometimes have a protein shake. I adore this Youtube channel for prepared meals. I’m beginning to eat this way more often now.
15 – Circulate the air // Run a diffuser, light a candle, open a window. We run the overhead fan often just to keep the air in the house fresh. Keep the house smelling good with essential oils and a diffuser. My favorite combo is Thieves and Peppermint with Lemongrass.
16 – Get Out of the House // When you work at home it certainly can be difficult to stay productive. At home –your work is truly never done. There will always be laundry to do, bills piling up, a phone ringing, a dog barking or a neighbor knocking. Working among the chaos is common, having repeated interruptions can impact your ability to re-focus onto your work over time. I have found that changing venues makes me feel like I’m part of humanity again. Being in a home office for so many years definitely has it’s perks. But when you’re inside for long stretches of time simply getting out of the house for a change of scenery can make you much MORE productive and put a spring in your step!
17 – Work in Natural Light // Work in natural light wherever possible. Follow these tips for setting up the best lighting for your home office. We love to work on our porch in the early morning in the summertime.
18 – Create an INSTANT “chalkboard” // Dry erase markers work wonderfully on your windows. I did this for my son who needed to take spelling test and he loved it. Just don’t let them bake in the sun…I used equal parts white vinegar / rubbing alcohol / water to remove it at the end of the day.