Mastering Work-Life Balance: Four Hacks to Help Working Parents Enhance Productivity

Work-life balance is a tightrope that many of us struggle to walk each day. Companies seem to be encouraging employees to embrace the concept more and more, with increased flexibility, remote options and “no email after hours” policies. One reason why? Worker burnout increases stress and decreases productivity in the workplace - the problem is also estimated to cost billions in healthcare spending each year.

For employees with kids at home, the balance becomes even more crucial. With priorities pulled in multiple directions at home and in the office, it’s important to set boundaries and make the most of your time in each role - without neglecting either. The best approach? Try to uplevel your productivity and get more done in less time, so you can manage both roles seamlessly. Here are a few of our favorite hacks.

Write everything down, but have a daily “must-do” list

A hundred to-dos floating around in your brain can be a big distraction - it can cause anxiety and limit your ability to get anything done in a timely manner. To help counteract this, jot down everything you need to accomplish (in an app, on your phone or an old-fashioned notepad). Then, prioritize these on a new list. Add only what is feasible and necessary to get done for that day and create a daily “must-do” list.

It can be overwhelming, not to mention defeating, to scan an extensive list of tasks, whether full of work projects or chores at home. You’re more likely to breeze through a realistic, shorter list with confidence and ease - no one has time to tackle everything in a single day. Plus, once you’ve accomplished these tasks, you’ll feel more productive and ready to enjoy quality time with your family, without having unfinished work on your mind.

Reduce clutter and go digital

Clutter is a huge roadblock in increasing productivity. According to Psychology Today, clutter bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on items that aren't necessary or important. It also distracts us by drawing our attention away from what our focus should be on. The best way to eliminate the mess on your desk and at home is to digitize as much as possible and go paperless. Between mail and bills, forms, important files, children’s artwork, report cards and memorabilia, the paper material adds up and can take over your space.

A digital filing system not only reduces clutter, but it eliminates the chances of losing or misfiling important documents. Scanners in our ScanSnap series use OCR (optical character recognition), allowing you to add keywords and create searchable files. Whether you need a set up for a small desk at home or your whole office, the scanners are simple to use and can be easily navigated by the whole family. Scan photos and cards to preserve your memories and digitize important files, storing everything to a cloud-based drive to ensure safety from hacks, natural disasters or a crashed computer.

Try not to multitask

As a busy parent, it can be tempting to try multitasking to increase productivity, but it tends to have the exact opposite

result. Similar to the effects of clutter, trying to focus on too many things at once can hinder you from getting anything done well or in a timely manner. Research shows that very few people can multitask effectively and it can actually be quite detrimental to our productivity - and mental health.

Focus on one task at a time and give it your full attention. If you do get interrupted and need to shift towards something else, complete the new project before returning the former one. This applies to when you’re at home relaxing or spending quality time with your children, too. Don’t check work emails and try to avoid your phone altogether.

Prepare ahead of time whenever you can

Consider how many time-consuming tasks can be prepped (at least partially) ahead of time each week. Meal prep is an obvious one - try to prepare lunches on Sundays, along with dinner ingredients to simplify your evenings. Plan the children’s outfits for the week – and your own – eliminating the decision-making time in the mornings when you may be groggy and slow-moving.

It’s also helpful to keep track of the whole family’s schedule in one place. A tried and true whiteboard in a central area works well. If your family wants to further embrace a digital lifestyle, you can test out a collaborative calendar app like Cozi or Google Calendar that allows you to maintain several calendars, manage to-dos and lists, set reminders and more.

What other tips do you use to help tackle your tasks and increase productivity?