Here's a Method for Working From Home When You Have Kids

I have Fridays off in the Summer and it's terrific.  No waking up at 5.  The ability to stay up late the night before.  Planning something special with the kids.  Oh and there's one more thing-

Getting a bit of work done.

While I have three day weekends in the Summer, there are still pieces of work projects that I take home with me.  And guess what?  I enjoy doing work from home, even though it's hard to do so.

Kids make life amazing, contemplative and something holy.

It's the kids, I keep telling Cary.  These short people who live in our home and demand so much attention, backpacks, food, errands, playdates- the list goes on.  Sometimes we'll laugh after the kids go to bed and say, "It's those darn kids! Our house would be cleaner and our bank account fatter without them."  And of course, we wouldn't trade them for the world. 

A sentiment that every parent feels I'm sure.  Kids make life amazing, contemplative and something holy.  

So back to the issue of work.  You have these amazing rugrats at home and still need to get an hour or two of work done.  This isn't a post for HomeWorkers like Aaron or Dave or my friend Gene. It's for the rest of us who just need a bit of focus on a random Friday in August.  

Here's a simple method for getting stuff done when you need to at home.  All it takes is a bit of courage and the ability to communicate your needs.  Are you ready for it? Wait for it, wait for it...

Tell your family that you need to work.  Then go and do it.  

This may sound overly simple but it's not.  The steps are simple.  

  1. Tell your wife and kids that you have some important work that needs to get done.  Tell them the time when you have to do it.  Be specific and realistic.  
  2. Build in a visual prompt for the space and time in which you are working.

Want to see it in action?  

  • "Kids, Dad has to get some important work done today.  I plan to do it just after lunch and it will only take about an hour. Once Dad gets it done, I'm all yours and we can do some cool stuff."
  • After lunch, announce that you're going to a particular place where you can focus and do your work.  
  • If you have a dedicated space (I have a study in my basement), close the door to signal the reminder to the kids that you are working. If you don't have a dedicated space, find one.  Few people can work out in the open like on the couch when Cartoon Network is blaring in the background.  

Here's the catch- you can't abuse this protocol.  Let's say you finished your hour of work.  Don't let that carry into another hour.  Before you know it, the door banging will be deafening, followed by notes under the door and then someone will lose an eye.  If you can get up early and get your work done before the kids wake up, even better. The whole point of this is to focus your energy and attention on the things that you need to when you need to.  This works for me and my Fridays have been productive as a result.

What works for you when you have to work from home?

Photo courtesy of TB