When I first began working from home decades ago, people were envious and said they wanted to do the same. They often asked me for advice, and there were two things I told them:
1. You cannot work with kids underfoot.
2. Be disciplined and set a schedule.
Now with the pandemic, I think a lot of people know that I wasn't kidding. The biggest problem is that while I arranged babysitters and day care for my kids when they were still too young for school, now parents are faced with their kids of all ages being at home more.
So, while I know that it's really difficult to work with kids underfoot, millions of parents are doing it. I take my hat off to them -- they are superhero parents.
As for the second bit of advice I offered, "be disciplined and set a schedule," -- I think is tougher.
A survey finds that people say "scrolling aimlessly on a device" is the second biggest reason (behind distractions from kids) that takes them away from work the most. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, dating apps, news alerts -- all these are a rabbit hole that you fall into and end up wasting hours of time.
Another big time waster, according to the survey: messaging, video games and job searching.
If you're tired of feeling frazzled, overworked and unorganized, here are some things to try:
1. Log off all social media. Delete them from your phone or your browser.
2. Get help. Apps like Facebook Nanny and Checky can help you control online habits.
3. Schedule time. Just like in school, you knew recess was coming at a certain time, so you were able to hang in there and complete your math work. Have set times you will check your phone or scroll Instagram. Put on a timer and when time is up, get back to work.
4. Block the noise. If dinging texts and notifications are a problem, simply turn your phone off, use airplane mode or even put the phone in another room. This may be difficult to do if messages are work-related, but your boss may support you checking texts only every couple of hours so that you can stay focused.
I think many of us have picked up bad habits during the pandemic and tell ourselves it's OK. But consider how these bad habits -- such as checking Instagram every minute -- are actually hurting you and very possibly, your career. Are photos of birds with arms really that important?
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