Wunmi is an experienced finance specialist with outstanding academic and professional achievements. She is a mom of two boys. Currently, she works in the Financial Services Industry. Spurred by the desire to inspire young professionals, she started an online community of millennial employees where she shares relevant information aimed at building, empowering, inspiring, supporting and promoting employees to thrive in their careers. She writes from Abuja.
At the beginning of the lockdown, I, as a mum of two toddler boys, was excited to keep my children at home and experience home-schooling. The lockdown has lasted longer than anyone had thought, and it has gradually gotten a bit overwhelming to juggle working remotely with home-schooling with household demands. Over time, I am getting better at maintaining a balance of what matters. I can listen to relevant webinars as I make dinner, incorporate the things that matter to me on my daily schedule, which for me amounts to productivity.
Why is it important to stay productive?
Undoubtedly, a lot of things are calling for your attention at this time from husband, to children, to running the home front to career development to your 9 to 5 job tasks, to keeping up with friends, and honestly, the list can be endless. Staying productive will help you ensure you do the things that really matter and are essential in a timely manner. Working remotely makes it easy to be busy like one seating in a rolling chair but no motion. Staying productive is what gives the motion for progress.
So, how can I be productive as a mum working remotely?
Write A To-Do List
Without to-do lists, everything often seems essential and must be done. However, we do not have more than 24 hours in a day so we cannot take on all tasks. Having a to-do list helps you prioritise what is urgent and vital. As Mrs Ibukun Awosika said, which I agree with, sometimes you need to pick important over urgent. Tendencies are if those urgent things were truly important, it should have been carried out at an important stage. The point of to-dos is to help you visualise the things you must do and prioritise them by assigning timelines to them. At the start of my day, I scribble out what I need to do, and I make it all-inclusive. From Office report, submit an article, home-school, bake cake, etc. this to-do list also gives me a sense of accomplishment each time I get to tick-off tasks. It provides some structure to my day.
If you are like me that can get “lost” in what you are doing per time, then you need to set reminders to keep you more accountable. Thankfully, mobile devices just made that comfortable with the in-built calendars. Maximise your device to remind you, the shortest pencil is better than the best memory. Sometimes you forget somethings you need to do at the time of making your to-do list however if you set reminders on the spot, you are not likely to forget to do them on both a to-do list and reminder. Reminders have got to be one of my favourite apps, I get to put the tiniest of things, like call a friend, birthdays/anniversary celebrations, live class for my boys on there.
Give Your Children Me-Time
We often hear about giving ourselves me-time, your children deserve me-time too. Be comfortable with them being in their own company, in a child-proof environment. Sometimes when I hear my boys having squabbles, I get tempted to find what is going on, and upon reaching there, it turns out they were just playing. For that moment, I have lost my focus which can be challenging to get back. So, I have learnt to let them enjoy their me-time while I also get some work done. As a mum, I have been able to identify the different modulations of their cries, when it’s fake, not so severe and dire. That tells me if I need to be there or not.
Have Break-Time Often
While working for long hours at a stretch could be a sign of self-discipline, it could be counterproductive. Research shows that those who take breaks are more productive than those who don’t. Researchers established that the ideal work rhythm is 52 minutes of work, followed by a 17-minute break. Taking a break is that short time you dissociate yourself from work, get refreshed and go back to work. My break times are sometimes looking at pictures in my gallery, a game on my phone or even going to my garden. Amidst you working remotely, find time to rejuvenate.
Involve your children in house activities
Children can be “gum-bodies”, and they enjoy their parents’ company. Involving them in the little chores around the house is a great way to spend time together, my boys look forward to it. It gives them something to hope for while I quickly get some of my office work done. How do I know this works? On several occasions after our activity time, I have had my boys give me lots of random hugs and say things like “you are my best friend mummy”. Do activities with your little ones, my all-time favourite is baking, it could get messy but its well worth it. Other times it could be blowing bubbles, find something they love joining you in, and involve them.