Having just come back from half term I thought it was timely to talk about working from home when it’s the school holidays. I have no memory as a child of there being SO many holidays, but when you’re a parent the opposite is true – sometimes it feels like they are rarely at school!
I’ve worked from home since the children started school (4 years ago now) so I’ve learnt a few things as well as made some mistakes which I thought I’d share with you as sometimes it can be not to feel like you’re losing your mind in the holidays! I was a productivity ninja on Monday, but it wasn’t always that way!
So, my top tips…….
- PLAN, PLAN, PLAN – This is my biggest tip – as the saying goes, if you don’t plan, you plan to fail! Let’s start by breaking this down.
- Put all of the school holiday dates for the year in your calendar. This may sound obvious but last minute panics are very stressful! It also means that you can visualise your year much better. Terms tend to be 5 or 6 weeks, which is not very long, so plan your year in these blocks.
- Consider workload. If you manage your own workload then plan for your busiest times to be during term time. Don’t plan any launches or new projects when it’s going to be holiday time.
- Communicate – tell your clients that the children will be around and it may be that you won’t be contactable at all times. Reassure them however that everything will be completed to the usual standard just at more unusual times!
- Consider childcare – you may be lucky enough to have family or friends that can help. Take up any offers of help, or share the care with a friend that runs their own business too. You can reciprocate looking after each other’s children. There are lots of clubs which are run during the longer holidays. They do however get booked up quickly, so make sure you plan in advance! They can be a great way for children to learn new skills too and have some independence so a win win situation for everyone!
- Work in chunks. No one is happy if you keep glancing at your phone/laptop in-between trying to do everything else. The children don’t receive your full attention and neither does work. Carve out a chunk of time where you can focus, even if it’s only 30mins, you will get so much more done in that time than if you are constantly chopping and changing.
- After lots of experimenting, I tend to find the hour we’ve had breakfast tends to work well. The kids are fed and can generally occupy themselves for an hour. I take myself into the office and get through as much as I can. I then make a list of anything outstanding for that day and will then come back to it in the evening. Evenings are my least productive time so if I have a list I can systematically work through things and ensure everything is done.
- Maximise every quiet period! Whether it be a sports match, waiting at soft play, in the car (if you’re the passenger!) take the opportunity to blitz emails and catch up.
- Utilise the Out of Office facility. I pride myself on getting back to people quickly and therefore that is their expectation of me. On holidays I put my out of office on and explain I will get back to them but it will take longer than normal. Write whatever you feel most comfortable with but I feel more relaxed knowing the expectations I have on myself are relaxed during this period.
- Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. It’s also a time that I want to enjoy with the children. They won’t want to spend their holidays with me forever so I want to have fun with them while I can and not feel overwhelmed with the kids and work which equals no fun!
- The evening before they go back – sit down and go through your emails, projects and workload in general. Prioritse, make to-do lists for each day that week. Plan the work in to highlight it is achievable and everything will be covered. This is key because it stops you feeling overwhelmed on the first day back which leads to procrastination which then leads to stress!
- Most of all enjoy the break, enjoy the time off, enjoy the children. You will feel re-energised and ready to take on the world.
If you have any top tips I’d love to hear them!