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Time Management in the Next Normal (for Parents Working from Home)

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Brigette Rahming is SaintA’s Leadership & Talent Development Coordinator, she presented a training to foster parents on improving time management skills while working from home with their kids and family living under the same roof. If you’d like to watch the full training, the previously-recorded video is available on youtube.

Before we discuss ways to manage our time, we need to identify distractions that may pop up during our workday. These distractions could include your family (pets, kids, significant other), chores, media (news and social media), and for those living alone – loneliness.

How to Overcome Distractions

  • Family: Summer vacation may be particularly unstructured now that your kids have more free time, but you can work in time for them to read or learn about things they enjoy.
    • Make sure you have a routine in place (not just for yourself, but for your family – especially the kids)
    • Meal prepping (if your kids are old enough, prepped meals will make it easier for them to feed themselves breakfast and lunch – this also helps them build some independence)
    • Plan activities (structure this with an accompanying rewards system)
    • Make breaks intentional (include your kids in your break – you can do a quick 5-minute kids yoga routine)
    • Have a set workspace (think about how you can maximize your space, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra room for a workspace. Can you rearrange your bedroom?)
  • Chores: Now that we’re spending more time at home, you’re likely seeing your chores list increase!
    • Schedule a cleaning routine (perhaps you do light cleaning during the week and a deep clean on Saturday mornings with the whole family)
    • Meal prep (your kids can help with this!)
    • Clean your workspace at the end of your workday (seeing clutter when you’re “off the clock” can make you anxious or want to get the work done).
  • Media: it can be tempting to check social media for a few minutes and not realize how much time has passed.
    • Turn it off!
    • Put your phone on ‘do not disturb’
    • Set your DVR to record shows to watch later
    • Don’t be tempted with social media
  • Loneliness: if you have a friend that lives alone or find yourself feeling lonely, here are some tips.
    • Create some background noise (Noisli.com)
    • Have a solid schedule
    • Get outside (go for a walk around your neighborhood)
    • Plan interactive time with family and friends
  • Anything Else: we’re sure there are other distractions that will pop up, so here are some suggestions for everything else
    • Get dressed!
    • Have a routine
    • Prioritize your task
    • Set reasonable deadlines
    • Create a schedule
    • Create a schedule
    • Take breaks!
    • White noise

2 Techniques to Consider

1) Parkinson’s Law – work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If you give yourself a week to complete a task, it will take a week. But if you know you can get it done within a few hours, set a time limit for that task and get it done faster. Take the time to set realistic deadlines.

2) Pomodoro Technique – focus on 1 task for 25 minutes (don’t multitask) then take a 5-minute break (this goes back to intentional breaks… like kids yoga). After four Pomodoros take a 15-30 minute break (repeat as needed). If you can handle 45 minutes, try it with a 5 minute break at the end.

You can also try this with your kids and their homework/studies! This structure can really help them to stay productive.

Building a Schedule

Start by prioritizing your tasks, make a schedule that includes each area of your life, plan your breaks (after each Pomodoro) and finally, schedule time with your family.

The To-Done List

Tim Grove, a Senior Trainer for SaintA suggests to keep track of what you have accomplished instead of what you need to do. The traditional to-do list can be intimidating as tasks continue to pile up. The To-Done list can be very empowering, even on the days where you feel like you haven’t done much. Share this with your supervisors during your 1:1 and make sure to pat yourself on the back!

Give Yourself Grace

Regardless how your day or week goes, remember to be kind to yourself and do the best that you can! Your kids love you, your spouse loves you, your boss knows how difficult this situation is and knows you’re working hard.

If you’d like to watch Brigette’s full training, the previously-recorded video is available on youtube.

Are you interested in becoming a foster parent (if you’re not already)? Learn more now or fill out an information request.