How To Manage Virtual Work And Restless Children

With our workplaces and communities changing faster than I can write blogs, I thought it would be helpful to address working virtually when you have young children whose needs you are balancing while trying to work.  

Get Real

One thing that hasn’t changed is the number of hours in a day. You still need to eat, sleep, and bathe. I hope that you will find time for exercise, and at least a little time for quiet, whether that means meditation, journaling, or prayer. At times of change, exercise and peace of mind are critical.

Literally write down the hours in a day and figure out (with your spouse or partner if you have one) how you will spend those hours. It is definitely better to get in a solid 4 hours of focused work than to try to work 8 hours with perpetual interruptions, and then end the day feeling like you were unproductive with your work and unloving to your family.

My colleague Joe has started the process smoothly. He and his wife have taken the time to plan and create a schedule for themselves, their work, and their children. I suspect it won’t work perfectly, but I know that it will work better than no schedule or plan at all!

Get Organized 

Talk to your manager about what is realistic, and anticipate what disruptions there might be to your plans. What can you actually do from home? Do both you and your partner need to be on a conference call at 10am, which is when the baby naps? Great, cross your fingers and hope it works! If it doesn’t, and the baby wakes up, who’s getting off their call?

See last week’s blog for some suggestions about setting up your workspace.

Get Talking

Can you get the quarterly newsletter done at night after the kids are asleep? If not, can it be delayed a few days? Talk to your manager and revise priorities now.

Talk more often. Let your manager know each day via a brief email what projects are still on track and what’s going to have to be delayed. It is better to stay in frequent contact with your manager and to set realistic expectations than to drop the ball on important deadlines. Host a virtual check-in with colleagues using your company’s platform so nothing falls through the cracks.

Get Clear

The reason so many of us are quarantined is to protect our communities, our loved ones, and ourselves. In order to take care of our loved ones and do our jobs, we must pace ourselves. You can only do what you can do. Love yourself for what you are able to accomplish each day and practice self-compassion.

Take the time to give yourself and the folks on your team grace. As leaders, it’s important to model the behavior that we want others to follow. Be intentional about taking time out of your day to breathe and check in with yourself. Consider getting up from your workspace. Take a walk outside. Notice that the birds are chirping.  

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