Monthly Archives: June 2020

Parenting, Working, and Teaching: help is here!



The coronavirus outbreak meant that millions of parents across the globe are now facing the impossible task of being a parent, worker, and teacher. Getting through your day is difficult enough when you’re trying to work from home with children. However, when you also have to home school, it can be very challenging. If you’re trying to find the right balance in these unprecedented times, there are some tips you can follow. Here, we’ll look at some of the steps, you can take to accomplish your new role without losing your mind.

Create and work from a schedule
Creating and maintaining a schedule during this time is invaluable. Children need a schedule. You also need one to help you keep up with your increased duties. Start with making one for the kids. You can include educational activities, playtime, and mealtimes. When they know what they are working on, and have a schedule, it makes it so much easier for all involved. Kids need a routine and they’ll be a lot happier when they’re following one.

Make time for physical and physical activities
When you need to get on with an important project, it can help to get the kids immersed in an engaging activity. Craft projects tend to be a popular option. They are fun and take a while to complete. You’ll find hundreds of craft project ideas online. Try and find something which utilizes supplies you already have in the home. Then, they can be getting on with their crafts while you complete your important work tasks. For a comprehensive list of indoor activities, grab your copy of the Ultimate Guide to Indoor Fun. It can be tough trying to work when the kids have bundles of energy. So, why not help them burn off that energy so you can work in peace? Getting them to partake in physical activity helps to wear them out as well as keep them healthy. So, encourage time running around in the back yard. You could create a mini assault course or look online for physical games you could play. Once they’ve finished their physical activity, they will more likely want to play quietly for a period of time.

Don’t try to become a teacher
Now that the kids are off school, you may feel like you have to become a teacher. You really don’t. Some parents chose to intensely research and familiarize themselves with the topics covered at school, and in the process become overwhelmed and frustrated. Instead, focus on educational activities they can do such as reading. You can also set up things such as sensory buckets and let them use educational apps. If the school provided digital work they can follow, don’t forget to utilize that too. If you look online, you might also find free workbooks.

Talk through any issues with your employer
If you are having issues juggling everything, don’t be afraid to talk to your employer. They may give you additional days off, so you can get used to the new arrangement. Remember, there are a lot of people going through the same situation right now. It’s not easy but remind yourself that it is only temporary.

Take advantage of nap times
If your kids are still quite young, make sure you take advantage of nap times. These are the perfect opportunity for you to get a bulk of your work done without having to worry about keeping an eye on them.

Ensure you have a quiet workspace
One thing you’re going to need when you’re working from home with the kids is a quiet workspace. It should be away from all distractions and ideally, space where you won’t be disturbed. Of course, this can be tricky, but if you explain to the kids that you can’t be disturbed and why it’s important, you’ll find they are typically willing to listen.

Utilize technology
In usual times, you try to limit your child’s exposure to technology. However, when you’re trying to work from home, you’ll find technology can be a real help. When you don’t want to be disturbed, let the kids watch a movie or play on a smartphone or tablet device. This will keep them occupied for a longer period of time, allowing you to take that conference call for example. It’s not easy working from home with kids, but it isn’t impossible either. Follow the above tips to make it that little bit easier during these difficult times.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

#isolationchallenge


Several major US blue-chip companies have recently announced employees will continue working from home for the rest of the year.  Last month, several news outlets reported Twitter employees can now do so permanently! Sounds like a dream, right? Living in NYC, on any given day, you share the subway with millions of straphangers. The service operates 24/7 (until a recent temp change, due to COVID), no matter what time of the day or night, commuters ride the trains. I would welcome this transition, but can I do it permanently? I am not sure. So many pros and cons. I recognized working from home will be part of the new normal, as employers scramble to keep their workforce safe while operating. 

If like me, you’ve been working from home for the past several months, you will agree, that one of the pitfalls of working from home, is how isolating it can be. When you’re used to working in an office setting surrounded by colleagues, it can suddenly feel quite lonely working by yourself. That’s why it is important to keep connected to the outside world. So, how can you stay connected when working from home? Consider the following tips.

Host regular group chats with colleagues
As you won’t be seeing your colleagues face to face, it’s important to keep in touch digitally. Hosting regular group chats can really help. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside specific times to do this. Having a group chat first thing in the morning before you start work is a good idea. That way, you’ll be able to get clarification on any projects you’re working on together.

Take advantage of social media
While you’ll want to limit social media while you’re working, it can still prove useful for staying in touch. To ensure you don’t waste time on it, a good idea is to set aside specific social media times. This gives you the opportunity to keep in touch with friends, family, and colleagues without it negatively impacting your productivity. 

Utilize video calls
Technology has come a long way over the past decade. You don’t need to be in the same room, to keep in touch with clients and colleagues. Instead, you can utilize video calling software. Whether you use something like Apple’s Facetime or Skype, the ever-popular Zoom, you can feel much more connected to people. The ability to hear and see them can make a big difference in limiting how isolated you feel.

Set reminders for birthdays and events
You can still celebrate special occasions and events such as birthdays, by setting yourself calendar reminders. This will ensure that even when you’re out of the office, you still stay connected with colleagues during these special times. I had a birthday during the lockdown. Since I had to cancel my trip to Central America, I decorated my space with traditional colors from each country, ate like locals do, listened to their music, and watched travel stories. I tried to follow the day’s exact schedule of activities as much as I can, virtually.

Respond to communication quickly
If you receive emails from colleagues and clients, make sure you respond quickly. When you’re working in isolation, waiting hours, or even days, just to get a reply can be tough. So, ensure your colleagues and clients don’t feel ignored by responding as quickly as you can to communication.

Look into networking opportunities. There are meetup groups, business networks, and other opportunities to get together with other like-minded people. You might even grow your business (if self-employed) through these activities. Get out of the house on a regular basis and mingle. Go to meetup.com and get started.

Create a routine. It might not make sense, but having a routine can help to beat feelings of isolation. It’s easy to sit and stare out the window when you work alone. Having a schedule prevents this. You’ll also know when your next dose of human contact is coming. Make a routine and force yourself to stick with it.

Get a pet (if you can). Consider getting a dog. A fish or cat might be more your style, but dogs are more interactive. Your dog will always be happy to see you. The cat might not care. No one will understand just how brilliant you are more than your dog.

These are some of the best ways to stay connected when you’re working from home. It isn’t always easy, but if you make the effort, you’ll feel much less isolated. It can be a real shock to the system moving from office to home working. So, allow yourself a period of adjustment to deal with the changes and adopt a more flexible working approach. Isolation and self-employment, and or working from home, don’t have to go hand-in-hand. With a little planning, you can find plenty of people to share part of your day. You don’t have to suffer just because you work at home. There are options for enjoying regular human contact. Take advantage of them and leave your isolation behind.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan

Distraction-free zone


I had every intention of posting much earlier than today. As a person of color living in NYC, as you can imagine, recent events surrounding the death of George Flloyd in MN, USA,  have captivated our attention. I needed time to step back, reflect, and decide what is next. I know you are bombarded from news all over the world already, but let me just say this, if you have supported the cause and movement in any way, THANK YOU. Now onto my WFH series!

One thing you have to master when you work from home is minimizing distractions. Household chores, TV, social media, and kids are some of the big ones. So, how exactly should you deal with these distractions to ensure you can work more efficiently? Below, you’ll discover some great tips. I hope you find them useful.

Turn distractions into rewards.
Distractions don’t have to be a bad thing. They can be used to reward yourself after completing work tasks. For example, if you love nothing more than to curl up in front of the TV watching your favorite shows, allow yourself the opportunity to watch something after completing a big project. Similarly, you could use social media in the same way. Once you’ve completed a task off your to-do list, reward yourself with a short period of time on your social media channels. Using distractions as a reward can help to keep you stay focused, and boost your motivation to get your work done.

Consider working in various parts of the home
It’s common to set aside just one place to work from. However, did you know you may find it more productive to work in various areas of the home? It’s all about adding variety into your new working environment. Some days, the spare room may be the best place to get work done. Other times, you may find it more beneficial to work on the dining room table, or in the back yard. Don’t limit yourself to where you can work, mix it up, and watch your productivity levels increase.

Add a little background music
This tip might not be useful to everyone, but many professionals claim working with background music, can limit their distractions. You’ll want to focus on calming music, rather than something that makes you want to sing along. Alternatively, listening to podcasts and audiobooks in the background can also work well. So, if you struggle with productivity, try adding a little background noise and see if it makes a difference.

Check emails sparingly
Checking emails is important when you work from home. However, it can also take up a lot of time. Try to limit how many times you check them during the day. Ideally, first thing in the morning, then after you’ve completed each task you’re working on. Some adjustment is required, depending on the type of work project.

Turn off notifications
Finally, a great tip is to turn off those notifications. Social media, news, and app notifications can prove really distracting when you’re working from home. It’s not always easy limiting distractions when you work from home, but it can be done, and with practice, it will become a norm for you.

Until the next post,
Best,
Juan