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Remote workers, how do you handle at home distractions?

steveemmerich profile image Steve Emmerich ・1 min read

I work remotely and juggle two kids (6mo, 3yr). I am basically a stay at home dad that moonlights as a tech lead. I am curious how others manage their remote work vs family life?

To start things off I have two workstations one in my kitchen, and one in my office. My general day consists of many meetings; I mostly float between the two depending on what the noise level is like plus what the kids are doing. Trying to split my concentration between the two. (FYI not a good idea.)

What about you?

Discussion

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It's not clear to me if you're simultaneously taking care of the kids and working or if your spouse (or other care taker) is also there. I'm going to address the second scenario, because I simply don't have any idea on how to handle the former.

FWIW, I've been working 100% remote for 12 years. My boys are now 12 and 14. My wife stays at home.

  • Set work hours. They don't need to be absolutely rigid, but 8ish to 5ish or whatever works for you and try to stick to it. This will help set the boundaries you need to get work done and help you "leave" the office when it's time to quit.

  • Dedicated office. Maybe you can do it, but I simply have to have my own space. I also have a sign I can hang over my door handle letting the family know they can't interrupt. Most of the times it's off, but when it's there they know something better be on fire if they come in.

  • Noise cancelling headphones. Bose QC 35. Yes they are crazy expensive. Yes, they are worth every penny. I can't hear the vacuum cleaner outside my door when I have them on. Well, I can just barely hear it. I can't hear my neighbor mowing his lawn at all.

  • Remember that one of the amazing perks of working at home is that you can step out for a break and play with the kids, go for a walk, get that thing on that top shelf no one else can reach, etc.

  • Recognize that the transition to working from home takes time. My wife and I were surprised to realize it took us about a year to figure out our groove. Figure out when it's okay for her to interrupt me and/or ask for help and/or take me on errand and for me to remember they all live here too.

 

I have my fourth kid on the way and it is a huge challenge especially during the summer vacation. I can resonate with what you said about floating between rooms. My office is upstairs (above the dining room and diagonally above the kitchen). The challenges that I face come in so many forms (kids, animals, tv, door-bell/delivery, kids wanting to play, etc.).

At first, I was just working from home some days or for a few hours. Then, I worked mostly from home for a few years (to a point where my kids would not understand why I would need to go somewhere outside to work).

I tried bouncing between rooms with my laptop. However, it was irritating because I was constantly on the move and you never know when you might need to find another spot. I tried going to the library and sometimes to coffee shops (which was yet another distraction).

I tried working in the yard (but it was not ideal). I tried the car (bad idea!).

The thing that has always worked for me is working later in the evenings and into the quiet hours or the night. I end up being more tired during the day as I hardly get to sleep. However, that's the only thing that works for me. Other than that, I have been thinking about renting a spot at WeWork, but that isn't exactly quiet.

It takes a lot of effort to be disciplined and ensure that I get stuff done on time. I have started to appreciate the benefits of working out of an office.

In the future, I plan to build an office space outside our house so that it is isolated from all the fun that goes on around here.