How to Work From Home with Twins
Today I’m going to cover working from home with my infant twins. I work remotely 80% of the time, but I also have a place where I can go to work in a co-working space, and a small office provided by the company I work for. I also have the freedom to work anywhere I’d like during the week. Sometimes that’s at a coffee shop. Sometimes that’s at a restaurant. Other times it’s just at a library or in a park with a hotspot. I really enjoy that I could work anywhere.
But now with things going on in the world that prevent us from leaving our house, I am working from home all the time.
This has been a big change for me because I no longer can get up and go to a place that is quiet or distraction-free. I also turned my old office in our apartment into the twin’s nursery. So I no longer have a dedicated workspace either. I got rid of my desk because I was working at tables in other places and there was no space in the nursery for one. We also don’t have a kitchen table because we turned our living room/kitchen into a massive open-concept space, and never put a dining area in there.
So what am I doing to make sure that I have a productive workspace, while being able to only work from home at this time?
Find a Dedicated Spot
The first thing I’m doing is finding a new spot, even if it isn’t an office or a place that’s truly a workstation. Because the twins and my husband are in the nursery and in the living room throughout the day, I decided that the best place to work for me is going to be from my bedroom.
I can close the door and I have a bathroom that I don’t have to walk through the main house to get to. This minimizes the distractions I have, and also gives me a quieter space to work in. Having a door to shut has been key to being able to block out a little bit of the distractions at home.
No door? Try Headphones!
So many of us won’t have a room that we can go into and shut the door. Maybe it’s because there are too many family members trying to all find space to work, or maybe your house just doesn’t have that many rooms where you can find a place that no one else is in.
Either way, one of the ways to create a small, less distracting space is to put on headphones. This can help block out some of the background noise. It’s still good to find a space to work in, even if it’s a small chair facing a corner and a small table, a space on your back patio or even a tiny nook in a bedroom.
Having your headphones can turn any spot that you are in, into a quieter space where you can focus. I recommend doing the large over the ear headphones because they tend to block out noise a lot better than earbuds.
Limit Visual Distractions
I also think that keeping as much distraction out of your eyesight as possible is another great way to stay focused. If I’m staring at a pile of laundry in my room, it’s really hard for me to answer emails. Instead, I make sure that wherever I’m setting myself up doesn’t face a lot of things that are going to stress me out because I think I should be attending to them. This includes not staring at a pile of laundry or staring into the refrigerator, because we both know that’s where I’ll end up half of the day.
I decided on working from my bed. I will say this isn’t the ideal option because it can make it harder to relax when it’s time to go to bed in your new “workspace.” It is, in my case, the quietest area in my house. So in order to differentiate my work bed from my sleep bed, I throw a bright blanket over the bed while working to rest my computer and work stuff on and put it all away and out of sight when I’m done with the workday.
Take Regular Breaks
Once you have a good pair of headphones and a small space to work in, another great way to stay on task is to make sure you’re taking regular breaks. This might seem counterproductive, but sitting in one place, and becoming restless can actually distract you from staying on the task. If you take regular breaks to get blood flowing, get a change of scenery and give yourself mental breaks to recharge, you’re more likely to stay focused when you go back to a task and be able to finish it.
Using free desktop timers to schedule in a 10-minute break every 90 minutes or notifications on your calendar to take breaks is a good way to break up your day and be more productive during your work time.
Use a Website Blocker
Just like always, in an environment with lots of distractions, don’t be your own distraction. Put things like website blockers and timing tools on your computer to prevent you from getting lost on websites that might be distracting to you. For example, I blocked things like news websites and social media websites that I don’t regularly use for my job. This means that if I was to type in a web address that was on a restricted website for the time of 9am to 5pm, I would be redirected and told that the website had been blocked. This helps me not become a distraction to myself.
Don’t Forget to Eat!
When you are working from home, it’s easy to skip a lunch break. I find that the more often I work from home, the less often I’m having a real meal. I’m more likely to graze all day long, in and out of the pantry and in and out of the refrigerator.
I still need to make time to sit down and eat lunch and decompress, as well. Having regular meals helps fuel your brain and keep you focused for when you’re working. It’s more distracting for me to be constantly hungry and nibbling and going to the kitchen than it would be for me to just set aside 30 minutes to make a real meal, and then eat it.
Set Quiet Times
Be honest with your family. If they’re being too loud while you’re on a call, and they can find a way to do a quieter activity for 20 minutes – don’t be afraid to ask for that quiet time. Don’t be afraid to talk to them about important times to be quiet during the day, if you have a schedule and you know when you need to be on video calls. Plan things like going on a walk outside or play in the yard or even find quiet activities that won’t result in shrieking or banging noises while someone else is on a call.
My twins love to play peek-a-boo and shriek and yell in excitement during the game. That’s probably not a great game for them to play while I’m on a conference call. But reading books with their dad is something they love to do and they like to sit and quietly turn pages. I try to make sure that I am sharing if I need to take a call so he can more easily plan for what to do with the babies. The weather is nice here so going on walks is another way for him to get the babies out of the house for short amounts of time and still entertain them if I was to need a very quiet 20 minutes.
Set Reasonable Expectations
Be sure to be realistic about how long your family can stay quiet. If from 9am to 5pm you need absolute silence, you may have to find a way to become very separated from the rest of your family and make sure they’re on one end of the house, and you are on the other. On the other hand, if you only need quiet time for an hour a day for calls it’s much easier for people to set aside time for quiet activities in that shorter amount of time.
Part of working from home successfully is working together with the people you live with. It’s also making sure you’re setting yourself up for success, cutting out distractions, and just doing your best during these times where we’re working in unconventional ways. It calls for a little bit of forgiveness for both you and the occasional interruption from your children on a work call. Having twins means we have a busy and loud household sometimes but that doesn’t mean I can’t work productively at home with a little bit of creativity and of course flexibility.