Working from home with children – my advice

CQUni alumnus Jessica Dennien is a Design Engineer at Gladstone Regional Council. She manages consultants and completes in-house designs for parks, roads and drainage infrastructure projects. In this week’s alumni blog, Jessica discuses her tips for working from home.

As a wife and mum of a two-year-old girl, working from home can be a challenge, but reflecting on my time working from home, I have actually enjoyed working from home very much and have found that I have been just as productive, if not more!

My top three tips for productivity!

1.    Don’t have distractions caused by people in the office

2.    Receive questions and requests in email rather than in person. This allows me to prioritise my time to respond; and

3.    Focus on completing set tasks rather than working specific hours.

How to get the most out of each day

To ensure I got the most out of my day, I made sure that I left my alarm set at the normal time and I followed the same morning routine. The only difference was, instead of driving to work, I would just turn my computer on and start 30mins early.  This helped me get into “work mode”.

Each morning, I try to start work before my daughter gets out of bed, this means I can plan my day and get everything underway without distraction. It is easy to get distracted with a child around the house. Getting snacks, cleaning up and setting up activities all takes time away from work. This is why starting early can be helpful and can make up for the lost time helping children.

I think the biggest thing that has helped me to productively work from home has been changing my focus from working 8 hours a day to completing set tasks. This may mean that some days I work 6:30am-5:30pm, while other days I have all my tasks finished by lunchtime. As long as your work is being completed, that should be the priority for you and your employer. The hours end up balancing over a week or a fortnight anyway.

How can I stay focused with so many distractions?

To help stay focused, I write a list of tasks that need to be completed each week. I then break those down to no more than three prioritised tasks each day. If I get my day’s tasks done early, then I can move on and get a head start for the next day’s tasks. I also try to structure my day so that I can get the bulk of my work done while my daughter is napping or after my husband gets home at 3:30pm.

If my daughter is having a day where she is finding it hard to amuse herself, I set up activities that will take her at least 20mins to complete. This gives me some time to get things done between helping her.

The good part about working from home is that you can control when you work. If my daughter is having a bad day, I simply won’t work while she is awake and will cram down once she is napping.

Your mindset matters!

To get out of “work mode” I turn my computer completely off and wind down by cooking dinner or watching some TV, just as I would a normal workday.

It’s important to remember that everyone is in the same boat at the moment and to not put too much pressure on yourself; if you’re finding it particularly difficult, talk to your boss about strategies to make working from home easier.

Want to give your advice to incoming students? Alumni can sign up to the 30 Minutes a Month program and complete monthly tasks to earn rewards while assisting future students in preparing for the learning journey ahead.

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