We all may feel like we’ve been wearing more hats than usual while working from home. Trying to be the present parent, the helpful spouse, and the hard worker. While you will burn out quickly this way, what are the other options? Here are some actionable tips to get your WFH life well-balanced and productive.

Make Work Flexible

If your company wasn’t previously remote, the new transition could have you pulling your hair out over keeping phone calls and Zoom meetings punctual and professional. Many of us doctors have fortunately been previously invested in Telehealth and digital tools, we’re just using them more often. You may need to request or implement some flexibility to accomplish your work when you are best able and most productive. Traditional organizations may prefer set hours regardless of your home life. 

While perhaps few people have the luxury to leave a job or choose a new job, to begin with, if you’re struggling to keep pace and juggling childcare, it’s a good time to consider your options. 

Chronic stress can cause disease, reduce cognition and memory, and even cause structural changes to your brain. The effects of stress on our nervous systems has been researched for over 50 years. I always recommend a variety of natural ways to manage stress.

Balancing Kids and WFH Life

There has been a resurgence of freelancers during the COVID-19 pandemic as more people opt for the independent contractor or gig-economy position. I understand the allure, but be wary as many of the websites and platforms offering flexible job opportunities are highly competitive and extremely difficult to make a livable wage with. 

Try newer flex and family-friendly options for jobseekers. One platform that caught my attention, Creatives Scale, offers freelancers the ability to consistently assign themselves work, at their own pace, without a bidding process. 

Be Here Now

I realize it is unrealistic to believe that busy professionals will have the energy or time to develop the habit and skill of meditation. 

The next best thing? Mindfulness, which is a form of meditation that you take with you throughout your day. 

Refocus on the present moment when you notice your thoughts are taking you for a ride. Try looking out a window and find something in nature. A bird, a tree, or even a clock ticking to look and focus upon for 10-15 seconds every so often.  

Routines and Sacred Spaces

Anyone who has had their child crash a virtual business meeting knows that sacred space doesn’t exist in most households. However, you can find ways to be productive when you know your kids will be preoccupied. 

By starting your workday with a certain routine, you not only prepare yourself and your body for focused work but are also subtly training your family members to adjust and allow you to work. If you start working at random times, the flexibility will make you seem always available. 

If you have the option, pick a 9-5 equivalent that works for you. Try waking up extra early and accomplishing important projects before your kids are awake, perhaps a 5 am-1 pm shift. Once you get into a rhythm, you’ll better adjust to working from home. 

The Reward System

Communicate and set your boundaries with your children. Let them know that it is important for you to speak with your co-workers uninterrupted. Next time they barge into your “office” and see you’re on the phone or a video call, see if they react and respond accordingly, ie: quietly backing away, and offer some sort of reward. 

Keeping kids entertained and your boss happy may feel like a paradox at first, but as you learn to stress less and become more flexible (and self-forgiving) you will keep stress at bay. Don’t forget to reward yourself too, take short breaks every so often and breathe deeply into the present moment.