12 Indigo team members offer their best tips for working from home—even with young kids.
At Indigo Marketing Agency, our team has been fully remote for over five years now, so we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for working from home. We’re mostly made up of work-from-home moms with young kids and hectic schedules. Thanks to our already-remote nature, we’ve been able to run at full capacity without any service interruptions—even in the midst of a global pandemic.
If you’re new to remote work and are wondering how to stay productive and maintain balance (especially if you have kiddos), then buckle up! We’ve got some noteworthy tips for working from home.
Here’s what our team members had to say…
Claire, Owner & CEO of Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Focus on hitting a home run only with the single task you’re working on.
Tip #2: Write down the three most important items to get done each day and do those before emails.
Tip #3: Never open an email unless you have the time to respond to or address it.
Tammy Hawkins, Director of Operations at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Use focus music to boost concentration. I recommend Brain.FM, which is a mobile app that uses music waves to encourage focus and remove distractions.
Tip #2: Try the Pomodoro method to set scheduled breaks. This method breaks your work into 25-minute sections with a 5-minute break in between. It helps you maintain focus and feel more relaxed about your workday. Focus Keeper is a free app that uses this technique. It helps!
Tip #3: Set up recurring home and work routines using Home Routines—a paid app that’s worth every penny. It gives me a lot of good routine structure and has a fun little chime sound when you check off the stars as complete.
Lisa Gaines, Content Manager at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Have a set routine for you and your kids that allows you several hours of work time, so you can stay focused. For me it’s during the kids’ nap time (or quiet time for my daughter), and after they’re in bed. We’ve had a strict routine their whole lives that allows me to rely on those specific times during the day.
Tip #2: Leave room for error and give yourself grace. With kids, there are going to be disruptions with even the best-laid plans and routines. Kids have appointments, get sick, just have a bad day, etc.
Tip #3: Set specific yet realistic goals for the day. This can obviously include things other than work. But I try to make mental goals of what I need to get done each day, leaving some things that I can do the next day so I’m not overloading myself.
Lori Koepke, Content Coordinator at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Create time blocks for working. For me, I wake up early to work for a short time before my kids are awake. Then I have a chunk of time in the afternoon when my youngest is napping and my older three are in their rooms for quiet time. I sometimes have a chunk of time at night to work a bit more and answer emails, but I really try to avoid that.
Tip #2: Never delete an email—even if you’ve completed the task. I label each email I get so I can search my inbox more easily and have past information at my fingertips.
Tip #3: Keep organized and detailed logs of the work you’re doing. I have multiple sheets open where I log information about articles and their current status. Everything I do is recorded so if I forget to do a task, it’s there for me!
Anna Hilbish, Writer at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Use a time-blocking schedule instead of a task list when you have certain projects that are hard to get through and you’re tempted to put off.
Tip #2: Depending on your work, give yourself a process or template for all the mundane tasks you have to do in your position. Do them in the exact same order every time for maximum efficiency and accuracy.
Tip #3: Get ready for the day as if you were going to be seen in public. It’s something so small, but it can be so helpful.
Jennifer Farrior, Editor at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Be extremely organized. This sounds obvious, and should be a must in any work environment. But since working from home can be hectic—especially with kids interrupting often—it’s better to “overdo” the organization so nothing falls through the cracks. I have multiple task lists, and use different highlighting to keep track of “in progress” tasks and “completed tasks.” (This goes for billing as well!)
Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to over-communicate. When you’re not face-to-face with coworkers, there can be misinterpretations and confusion. It always helps to communicate even a simple “Got this!” to let someone know you’ve seen their email. If you have questions or need clarification, ask!
Tip #3: Schedule breaks. This can sound obvious as well, but sometimes we can get so comfy on the couch that hours later our legs are numb and we haven’t had a sip of water. I also try to squeeze in some simple stretches and exercises during breaks.
Kelli McLeod, Account Manager at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Maintain a routine. For me, I wake up early and work during my son’s nap time—in addition to any other time I can carve out during the day (especially if he’s playing nicely).
Tip #2: Communication is key. If you can’t get to a task right away, set realistic expectations for when you can complete something.
Tip #3: Enlist help if you have it. My husband is home every other day during this social distancing period, so we have been able to tag-team entertaining our kiddo while the other makes a call, completes a task, etc. Sometimes “help” may also be in the form of screen time! No shame in this mom-game (especially for those of us with little toddlers who can’t seem to sit still for anything but Disney!).
Ellie Hubbard, Content Scheduler at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: I work before my kids get up, and again during nap time. I’ve found that a lot can get done if the time is dedicated and focused. I try not to work with my kids running around (or while they’re awake) because it takes longer and I’m more prone to make mistakes due to interruptions. As they’ve gotten older and play more independently, I’ve ventured into working a tad while they’re awake, but I try to keep it minimal.
Tip #2: Adjust schedules as necessary. I used to start work at 6:00 a.m. But some days the work wouldn’t be finished when my kids woke up, so I’d power through while my husband did morning snuggles and fed them breakfast. I missed this time and began struggling with what to do. So we decided to adjust the schedule so that I could be present during snuggles and breakfast and resume any tasks afterward before my husband had to leave for work. It’s okay to recognize that a schedule isn’t working for you and adjust it (as many times as necessary) to figure out what works for you and your family.
Tip #3: Ask for help. Some busier seasons I have hired a babysitter one day a week to give me space to catch up. Obviously, that won’t work during a quarantine. But if there’s another adult in the house, ask for dedicated work time If you’re having a hard time getting all the tasks accomplished in the allotted time you have.
Amy Lanci, Writer at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Get up early so you can work before your kids wake up. I usually get up around 4:00 a.m. to get a solid 3 to 4 hours of work in before my five-year-old daughter wakes up.
Tip #2: Come up with activities ahead of time for your child to do so they can keep busy while you work.
Tip #3: If you’re married, coordinate work schedules with your spouse. I usually fit in my business stuff in the afternoon around my husband’s meeting schedule.
Pamela Hubbard, Lead Writer at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: I try not to check my work email unless I’m sitting down to work.
Tip #2: My work time is completely dedicated to work—I don’t try to multitask. I clear distractions, put piano music on my phone (then put my phone across the room), minimize other windows on my computer, and get to work.
Tip #3: If I miraculously get a longer chunk of time to work, I set my timer and take breaks every so often to get up, stretch, and rest my eyes.
Tip #4: At the end of every week, I make a tentative plan for my work time the following week, taking into account what articles will take longer to write, what days I have more time to work, what tasks are priority, and so on.
Tip #5: BE FLEXIBLE! I try not to beat myself up if I can’t get as much done as I wanted or if a babysitter cancels. I know I’ll get the work done eventually and it’ll all work out. In this oh-so-fun time of being home with the kids every minute of every day, my husband and I have been experimenting with staggering our work “shifts” so I still have as much time to work as I did with childcare. We’ve tweaked it these past couple of weeks and I’m sure we’ll tweak it again!
Cassidy Horton, Webinar Manager at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Get ready for work each day. Every morning I wake up at 6:00 a.m., take a shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and then head to my computer desk for work. I keep the same routine as I did in my previous 9-to-5, which helps me get into “work mode” and stay focused.
Tip #2: Leave emails unread until you can respond. If I happen to read an email on my phone, I mark it as “unread” as a reminder to answer it when I have time.
Tip #3: My favorite time management tool is www.marinaratimer.com, which encourages you to be productive with what little time you have. I usually customize the timer to do 45-minute sessions with 5-minute breaks when I’m working on longer writing assignments. I’ve found that I’m much more productive when my brain knows it only has to work hard for a short period of time.
Amy Artiga, Lead Technical Writer at Indigo Marketing Agency
Tip #1: Understand your rhythms and when you work best. I write best in the morning while my brain is fresh, so I do that first thing and save other tasks for later. I also know that checking email scatters my brain, so I make sure to do anything that requires a lot of concentration before opening my email. With kids, I know which of their activities allows me the most uninterrupted time, so I plan my work accordingly. I save my writing for while they’re reading (we’re a family of bookworms), and I don’t even try to do it while they’re doing things that require my input.
Tip #2: Have a schedule, but be flexible. When my kids were in school, I’d plan out my week and block time for everything that needed to get done. But then I would almost always end up moving things around based on my brain power. But the blocks never got deleted, just moved around, so everything got done. Now with the kids we have a “school schedule.” The times on the schedule are just ideas, but it lets the kids know what’s next and what they can look forward to (and it keeps them from getting bored).
Tip #3: Start with the hardest thing first. Then everything else is easier as the day goes on. When I was in college, that meant I did my Spanish classes first thing in the day because everything else is easier when it’s in your native language. Now for both me and my kids it’s writing.
Did you find our tips for working from home helpful? For more helpful information regarding marketing virtually, visit our blog here!